Glenn Repinski has been cooking since he was 15. “It’s all I’ve ever done, and I still really enjoy it,” he says. Together with his wife, Brenda, he owns and operates Glenda’s Cafe in Okauchee, where the couple dishes up American classics, homemade pie and weekly specials customers can’t resist.
What’s in a name? As you might have guessed, the cafe name is a mish-mash of “Glenn” and “Brenda.”
Before moving to Okauchee 15 years ago, the pair ran a large, bustling restaurant in Milwaukee, where “People would try to get our attention and call out ‘Glenda,’” Glenn explains. When they decided to downsize and open the cafe, the name was a no-brainer.
A cozy neighborhood spot, Glenda’s has just nine tables, eight diner stools, and plenty of regulars. “It fills up fast at 36 people,” says Glenn. The biggest crowd comes for breakfast, served only on weekends. Glenn and Brenda see a rush of patrons following church services on Sunday, the only day they take reservations.
“Our customers can go anywhere they want to eat, and they choose to come to us, and we’re very grateful,” says Brenda.
Glenn’s adventurous palate and skill in the kitchen mixed with Brenda’s inspiration looks to be a recipe for success. Many customers bypass the regular menu in favor of trying something new each week.
Case in point, Brenda had an idea to marry a corn muffin with steak and eggs. Glenn ran with it, adding hollandaise and steak sauces, Monterey Jack cheese, grilled tomatoes, beans and American fries to create a Cowboy Eggs Benedict.
In a surprising twist, Brenda is not a foodie. “I’m a peanut-butter-and-jelly girl,” she says, adding a story about a Mexican salsa quiche with chorizo and peppers that Glenn whipped up.
“I said, ‘Glenn, it doesn’t even sound good.’ But everybody ordered it, and everybody loved it -- that’s how wrong I was,” she says, laughing.
In contrast, Glenn eats everything with gusto from hot-and-spicy Thai to Italian. “I love all food. I love yuppie, new, goofy creations, but I still like a pot roast,” he says. As for the cafe menu, “You have to have enough in the middle to keep everybody happy,” he explains.
Just like home
“Almost everything that comes out of here is handmade. I start at four in the morning to get ready for lunch and dinner,” Glenn says. His dedication to using fresh, top-quality ingredients and making dishes from scratch has garnered a loyal following.
“We have a lot of return customers. We have customers who come three times a week -- for years,” says Glenn.
Despite never advertising, they also see new customers each week. Word of mouth about the good food and friendly service attract people.
The homey atmosphere is no joke; Brenda and Glenn live in the attached house and are available 24/5, they say. “The restaurant phone rings in the whole house,” Brenda explains. The restaurant is not 24/7; it's closed Monday and Tuesday. Those days, Glenn and Brenda dote on their grandkids, including newborn twins, and cook dinner for their own family.
Pumpkin Chili with Black Beans
½ cup diced onion
1 diced yellow pepper
1 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 cups diced fresh tomato with juice
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 t chopped parsley
1 t oregano
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
Sauté the onion, yellow pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Add all of the ingredients except the black beans, and simmer for 1 hour. Add the black beans; cook another 30 minutes. Makes about 2 quarts.
Visit Glenda’s Cafe
N51 W34975 Wisconsin Avenue, Okauchee
11a.m.-2p.m. and 4:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday-Friday
7 a.m.-2p.m. and 4:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday
7 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday
Closed Monday & Tuesday