The restaurant is a community-based project that will provide hospitality training and jobs to the Newtown neighborhood.
The idea behind Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen stemmed from the longtime friendship between Sarasota restaurateur Steve Seidensticker and City Commissioner Willie Shaw. But its realization was the result of a greater community effort from Seidensticker’s TableSeide Restaurant Group, Newtown residents, the City of Sarasota, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, donors and local nonprofits.
Many of these supporters celebrated the new restaurant's groundbreaking on Tuesday at its future location at 1741 Martin Luther King Way.
Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen will provide hospitality training and jobs to neighborhood residents. Its property ownership will remain with Newtown resident Thelma Upshaw and it will be managed by sisters Joan and Valerie Williams, who are also residents of the community.
The restaurant will be built on the site of Miss Susie’s Social Club, which was a popular gathering place for the Newtown neighborhood that closed in the 1970s.
Newtown resident Jetson Grimes described the club’s owner, Susie Lynda, as a “local philanthropist.”
“She did a lot for the community, especially for the churches and a lot of the businesses that were located here,” Grimes said.
Those involved with the collaborative project hope that it will invigorate the Newtown economy.
“Today we’ll begin to revitalize a historically underserved community,” said Terrill Salem, whose construction company will build Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen. Salem called the project “the opposite of gentrification” and praised TableSeide’s approach to investing in a community through partnering with those who understand it best.