Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen will offer a new concept for fast-casual dining.
This fall (tentatively), the doors will open at Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen, bringing fresh opportunities for jobs, training and neighborhood revitalization … and with it, down-home flavors like smothered pork chops, creamed corn and banana pudding.
No, Miss Susie’s won’t be a typical fast-casual, burger-and-fries joint. It’s a menu of Southern comfort food that’s good for the soul and sticks to the ribs.
“This is good, healthy, filling food,” says Terrill Salem of T Salem Construction, who is building new restaurant that broke ground on Feb. 20. “The community will be happy.”
The dine-in or grab-and-go restaurant will offer a “Meat & 3” menu design modeled after the award-winning, famously hearty Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville. Every day, Miss Susie’s will feature two meat selections such as roast beef and baked ham or chicken livers and onions and ribs, as well as daily standards that can be ordered alone or paired with sides such as collards, stuffing, cole slaw or sweet potatoes.
Diners can fill up on an entree of meat and three sides for less than $10, and top off their meal with a $2 dessert of chocolate chess pie or cobbler.
The idea for Miss Susie’s, located at 1741 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota, developed when Steve Seidensticker of TableSeide Restaurant Group, which operates Libby’s Café & Bar, Louies Modern, and Muse at The Ringling, was lamenting the lack of diversity in the local hospitality workforce. Floating the concern to former Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw five years ago, the two men brainstormed a solution that would cater to and support the Newtown neighborhood while providing a restaurant and serving training ground that could feed into the larger area’s industry.
The concept became the pet project for TableSeide Cares, the Seidensticker family’s community outreach organization, and quickly garnered support from other area organizations and government entities that embraced the revitalization efforts creating success within Newtown.
Property owner Thelma Upshaw would retain her land with TableSeide (signing a 10-year lease); professionals with deep Newtown roots like Salem and restaurant managers Joane and Valerie Williams would spearhead key aspects of the new business; and 11 to 15 jobs would open in the neighborhood.
“Most investors just want to come in and buy land,” Salem says. “But TableSeide came in with a different concept. This will bring in new business for the whole MLK corridor … so now you have dollars circulating right in the community. It’s a win for everybody.”
The eatery pays homage to Susie Linder, who ran Miss Susie’s Social Club on the location for 20 years, with iconic pink walls and soulful flavors. The original Miss Susie’s closed in the 1970s. TableSeide CEO Joe Seidensticker hopes to re-create the same gathering spot vibe this fall.
Interest has been piqued, he says. “We had people applying for jobs at the groundbreaking,” he says. “People are starting to realize that it’s real.”
While the menu is a departure from the beef carpaccio, vegan tomato bisque and signature martinis for which TableSeide is renowned, Seidensticker says his team is bringing its operating recipe for success to the venture.
“We’re a diverse group, and we can make any concept work,” he says. “We can open any kind of option and we run it like our other businesses – payroll and everything. The type of food you’re cooking is the only thing that’s different.”
Seidensticker says Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen recipes are under development with TableSeide’s Executive Chef Fran Casciato and the Williamses; and Salem is finalizing the final permits so construction can start.
Applicants can visit tableseide.com to inquire about jobs, or visit the location in early fall to fill out a job application for front and back-of-house positions.