Greek family specializes in American breakfasts

Published 5:53 pm Thursday, January 2, 2014

Employees of the Galley Grill. Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN

Employees of the Galley Grill. Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN

Tucked in among the shops and gas stations lining the Red Arrow Highway just north of Stevensville, Mich. stands a small, family-style restaurant called the Galley Grill.

“This is going to be our first winter here, but we’ve been here in this area for a long time,” said Tony Mamouzellos, owner of the restaurant and patriarch of the Mamouzellos family.

Located at 4296 Red Arrow Highway, the Mamouzellos family opened the doors to their restaurant this past June. Tony and two of his sons, Mike and John, can be found there serving breakfast and lunch every day, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tony’s wife, Angie, is a pastry chef, and sometimes she makes cookies or pastries at the Galley Grill.

“Mike is the one, he runs it, and Johnny and I, we’re in the kitchen usually. I love the restaurant business, I hope they take after,” Mamouzellos said.

Opening a restaurant is not a new experience for the Mamouzellos family.

“I used to own another one down here, Tony’s Diner, and I sold that one. Then, I went down to Sawyer for five years, and I had two Tony’s Diners over there,” Mamouzellos said. “We’re originally from Indiana. We’ve been here almost 11 years in Michigan. I’ve been doing it for 30 years already. So, this is the eighth restaurant. I like southwest Michigan. It’s beautiful.”

Although Tony, Angie, Mike and John are the only folks at the Galley Grill who are actual members of the Mamouzellos family, they have created an atmosphere where employees also feel like they are a part of the family.

“These are such amazing people. It feels like a big family here,” said Kate Conner, a server at the Galley Grill. “I’ve been serving at restaurants since I was 15, so for five years, and this is the greatest place I’ve worked. I wake up happy to go to work.”

That welcoming, familial atmosphere draws many customers back to the Galley Grill.

“At least 70 percent of our business comes from our regular customers. We have our morning people coming in for breakfast. We have coffee, we talk,” Tony said.

Customers can choose from an extensive breakfast and lunch menu that includes kids’ meals and special discounts for seniors.

“We offer a few things for the elderly people. We understand how things go for them, money-wise,” said Tony.

While the Mamouzellos family is Greek, and they offer a few Greek specialties like gyros and Greek salads, they specialize in what Tony called “regular American breakfasts.”

“We serve a lot of omelettes here,” Tony said. “Normally, it’s the ham and cheese or the Denver, but we also sell a lot of the spinach and feta omelettes. A lot of people order those. We serve a lot of French toast, too.”

According to Conner, there are many reasons to visit the Galley Grill for a meal.

“There just aren’t many restaurants like this around here. The food’s done right here every time. The portions are ginormous, and the prices are reasonable,” said Conner. “It’s a shame that more people don’t know it’s here because it would be packed every day if they did.”

While customers comment on how good the food is at the Galley Grill, they also speak of the ways that Tony has helped them.

“Tony is a big help to us, a big help,” said Skip Barker, a regular at the Galley Grill and the vice president of Rolling Thunder, chapter 2, an organization that provides meals, clothes and entertainment to patients at the Veterans’ Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich.

“We put on five dinners a year up at the Veteran’s Hospital, and Tony does the cooking for the big dinner, where we cook 40 turkeys and I don’t know how many pounds of mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn, and green beans,” Barker said.  “He also makes the spaghetti sauce when we go up and have our spaghetti dinner.”

Tony has also been known to offer advice to others who plan to open up restaurants, including Pedro Rios, owner of Frankie’s Breakfast Club in Benton Harbor.

“You know, sometimes, competition is better,” Tony explained, smiling.

Although business has been good so far, Conner would like to see even more people enjoying their meals at the Galley Grill.

“This is a little gem here, and more people should know about it,” Conner said.