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In Dining Commentary

Julie Pandl's "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" will be republished and given national distribution by Algonquin Books in November.

In Dining Commentary

George Pandl and his nine children all worked the Sunday brunch at Pandl's. Julie is on the far right.

Pandl's brunch memoir gets national publisher

(page 2)

Writing a book was certainly a leap. "I've known since I was in college that I wanted to do this," Julie said during a chat in her Shorewood flat. "I was itching to do it.

"I knew my dad was a character, and I thought the whole experience about growing up in a restaurant was readable material."

After the deaths of her parents, she began the project, taking a 10-month leave from work to devote full time to writing. "I was hell bent on going the traditional route," Pandl said, meaning she would search for a publisher.

But that is a daunting task for an unknown writer, and she eventually changed course, deciding to self-publish with the assistance of CreateSpace, a division of Amazon. The plan was to sell 5,000 copies and then pitch the book to agents, pointing to the sales figures.

Julie tirelessly plugged her book last year, doing readings and signings for North Shore book clubs; at her cousin's restaurant, Jack Pandl's Whitefish Bay Inn; at independent book stores in the Midwest, and even at several family-owned restaurants similar to Pandl's out in the state.

"Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" was the best selling non-fiction book at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon for 16 weeks last year, and before Pandl went looking for an agent, an agent found her. He was trolling websites of independent book sellers around the country and noticed how well Julie's book was doing at Next Chapter.

A deal was done with the agent, and the memoir was sold to Algonquin Press within 24 hours of the book being offered to publishers. "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" is now off the market until November, when Algonquin will publish and nationally distribute it. A new cover and some small changes will distinguish it from the original edition.

Pandl's success is not surprising. She is a funny and irreverent writer with a consistent smart voice. You don't have to have ever eaten brunch at her family's restaurant to be thoroughly engaged by the book.

While the tales of cleaning smelly smoked trout through a nasty hangover and being scorched by a grease-spewing breakfast sausage hidden in a pocket are plenty amusing, the memoir is really a coming of age story that reflects a deep love for parents. Even if they were at times a bit wacky.

Julie will do 10 to 12 minutes of standup at an American Library Association annual conference program in Anaheim next Sunday. The Pandl's brunch will be her topic. She will appear with a group of humor writers that includes comedian Paula Poundstone and Lizz Winstead, a co-creator and former head writer of "The Daily Show."

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