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Cranky Al's: Hand-cranked food served with a side of community

Susie and Al Brkich are the forces behind popular pizza and bakery restaurant Cranky Al’s.

Susie and Al Brkich are the forces behind popular pizza and bakery restaurant Cranky Al’s. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Nov. 29, 2011

It is rare to find as true a sense of community as that at Cranky Al's in Wauwatosa.

The atmosphere is warm and eclectic, and everything is served with a slice of Al's trademark wit. Let's just say you'll feel right at home, which might mean Al will yell at you - but only a little.

Opened in 2006, Cranky Al's is owned by Susie Brkich who, along with her husband "Cranky" Al, creates and serves homemade food six days a week. Both of them are hands-on in the business and are there almost constantly, which is, no doubt, part of the secret of their success.

A popular breakfast spot on Tosa's east side, you'll have to wait in line with the regulars (there are many), but it's worth it for the hand-cut, handmade baked goods and coffee. The crullers ($0.99) are one of the most popular items, followed closely by the fritters ($1.95) that Susie describes as "as big as your head." And, of course, there are the donuts, which are sublime, along with a butter-cream filled cupcake called The Mostess Fupcake ($2.25).

Wednesdays through Saturdays, Cranky Al's serves pizza in three sizes: personal, 14-inch and 16-inch. Extremely popular are the Cranky with sausage and pepperoni ($10.50/$15.25/$17.50) the Nikki-Knak with artichoke heart, goat cheese and fresh garlic ($13/$17.25 /$21) and the Freshtable, topped with fresh veggies ($13/$19.50/$22), as well as the garlic bread ($3.50-$8.25.) There also is a Friday Fish Fry ($10.95) and handmade chicken strips ($9.95).

As Susie Brkich explains, however, it's the atmosphere that gets people coming back to Cranky Al's: "People can always expect the unexpected here. It sounds funny to say it, but the dysfunction is something people feel comfortable with!"

The Basics

BUSINESS: Cranky Al's

ADDRESS: 6901 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa

PHONE: (414) 258-5282

WEBSITE: CrankyAls.com

FARE: baked goods and pizza

HOURS: Bakery is available from 6 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Sunday, and pizza is available from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $0.99 to $22 (approximate)

RESERVATIONS: No, although private parties are held here.

HANDICAP ACCESS: Yes, in the back.

LOOKING TO 'GRAB A BITE'?

"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, e-mail her at kmwaldkirch@yahoo.com.

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