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No need to change the sign: A new Susie at café on South 21st

March 20, 2018; updated March 26, 2018
       There's a new Susie at Susie's Westside Café.
       The breakfast-lunch restaurant at 1686 S. 21st St., which opened in 2009, has
Susan Light and her husband, Scott Johnson, sit in front of the counter inside Susie's Westside restaurant. Behind the owners, ready to take an order, is the cook, Fredy Quevedo.
Westside Pioneer photo
been owned and operated since November by Susan Light and her husband, Scott Johnson.
       The founder was Susan McGregor-Hrdlichka (pronounced herd LICH kuh), who has moved her focus to real estate.
       “We joked about it, having the same name,” Light laughed.
       Located near the top of the 21st Street hill, just north of Lower Gold Camp Road, the café is open daily, offering inside and outside seating and specializing in home-made food.
       Before buying Susie's, Light worked as a server at the long-time Mason Jar restaurant on West Colorado Avenue. (Side note: She wasn't the only Susie there. Light said she actually spelled her name "Susi" during that time to lessen the chance of mix-ups.)
       At the Mason Jar, Light credited its owner, Tim Payne, with teaching her about restaurant management. “He trained me how to run the back of the house,” she summarized.
       The Mason Jar was also where she and Johnson met six years ago. He was a fry cook.
       After getting together, the couple started thinking about a restaurant of their own. In the meantime, they ate regularly at Susie's.
       “We fell in love with the location,” Johnson said. “We're Westsiders ourselves” (him for 34 years, Light for 20).
       Then one day, the duo asked Hrdlichka to let them know if she ever wanted to sell the business. Johnson recalled the founder's reply starting with, “As a matter of fact…”
       The couple took over after a transition period in October. Light oversees the food preparation, her husband the ordering. Two of the previous employees remain, including the cook, Fredy Quevedo.
       The new owners described their goal as continuing the style and service established by the original Susie.
       “She put her heart and soul into the business for 10 years,” Johnson said. “We're not here to change it. We like things the way they are.”
       But it's not as if the current Susie hasn't added touches of her own. Light has introduced soups and pies from her own recipes. “They sell like crazy,” she said.
       Hrdlichka said she enjoys real estate - she's had a sales license since 2006 - but admits to mixed feelings about leaving the restaurant she started. “I miss my customers and employees, but I was just getting burned out and tired,” she said. “It's hard work.”
       Her real-estate phone number is 351-8242.

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