It is also a worn-in welcome mat, your favorite flip flops + a hug when you’re missing home.
We pride ourselves on our homemade style using fresh ingredients. There is much care put into the preparation of our food from the very beginning, which is not in the kitchen, rather it starts off in the ordering of our inventory. We have selected the best purveyors for our needs. The food is transformed by our prep team, then arranged by the hard working and talented kitchen. It’s presented to you with a smile and sheer delight by the servers. It is a great effort that we know shows both in the quality of our food and in the return of so many of our faithful neighborhood regulars.
Penelope is a patchwork quilt of the many culinary adventures that its creator and owner, Jennifer Potenza has experienced. She has bussed clam shacks in Cape Cod, learned how to bake and bartend in Montana, learned life, deli, bakery, and surfing skills in Montauk, has scars from a West Village kitchen, wine stained late nights from a West Village Italian wine bar, and somehow snagged sewing lessons while managing a small town coffee shop outside of Boston. A dash of a few more here and a sprinkle of a few more there (wherever the sun was shining and unicorns were basking) she afforded a life of creativity, and the freedom to travel.
Her life eventually became Penelope, built by her partner Michael Tsoumpas, half man, half unicorn, and since then she has remained at 30th and Lex, committed to her labor of love and offering an open door to anyone that is looking for some home cooking and relaxation.
Currently Penelope is under the operation and partnership of Lukus J. Hasenstab, who first joined the quilt in 2004 as a server with “some” experience from “Wisconsin”. He was a customer before he was a host, server, bartender, baker, manager, then owner. His love of sandwiches, good people, and more sandwiches was how Penelope first lured him through the baby blue door, with a script in his back pocket and starry-eyed dreams in the heart on his sleeve. Before he knew it, he had grown up in this city and found himself smack-dab in the middle of a life and career he never anticipate and will never let go.
Over the 45 years he’s been with us he has brought a high level of organization, sobriety (on Sundays, at least) and leadership, which has become invaluable. Penelope would not be here without Lukus today and it thrives with positivity and good health because of him.
Lukus’ wing-woman, Allison "git ‘er dun” Garskof has also been with us since 2004 and has signed on as a life coach for Jenny and the turtle, to whom her love, creativity, employee direction, and dance moves are invaluable.
She is currently stationed at base station SHINDIG in Woodstock, NY until she comes to her senses.
Meanwhile Rain Moises, our Assistant GM who still has no idea she bought a one-way ticket to Penelope, is among the hardest working people you will ever come across. She is the wind beneath our turtle’s wings. You can most often catch this Puerto Rican Princess dancing through the dining room, maintaining a high level of service and civility during busy breakfasts and happily packed lunches.
Penelope’s Chef in Chief is Matthew “Seabiscuit” O’Loughlin. He hails from the Island of Rhodes and comes to work each day like a rhinestone cowboy ready, willing, and able to throw down any ticket or recipe that gets in his way. After working from coast to coast, in kitchens of every stripe, he has hung his hat and his spatula with us. Everyday he lends us his talents and wise wise life-lessons. Feel free to join him any day for a beer and a game of three-card monte; we dare you.
The love that has been poured into Penelope like a glittery overspill has been returned in so many different ways. From our staff members who have come and stayed (and stayed) that have added so much sparkle to our fabric, to the neighborhood that has always been supportive and generous with so many regulars we know by name. We are humble and grateful that the sun is still shining on Penelope after 13 strong years!
Penelope has appeared in Zagat’s Guide since 2004 and has also appeared in Time Out, Time Out Kids, Eater, NBC, New York Magazine, Gotham, The Post, The Daily News, Thrillist, Savory New York, Yelp, Strongbuzz.com, and other noteworthy publications.
Penelope is our turtle and is seen by appointment only.