Suzy Q’s restaurant says goodbye in style
This week I had one of the best sandwiches of my life. Elvis the King, made with fried bananas and crunchy peanut butter, rum and raisin jelly, bacon and powdered sugar on top of bread. On Tuesday, I walked through the door of Suzy Q’s Diner to write about her last week in business at the corner of 2nd Street and Juniper. A place that has said goodbye to a host of memorable businesses over the years (remember the Metaphor Café?) and on Sunday is saying goodbye to another.
Nothing expresses the ephemeral nature of life better than the art of eating. It is at its best when it becomes a treasured keepsake.
Suzy insisted on making me one of her signature sandwiches. It was recommended to me by Matt Weatherby, owner of Jelly Bear Jelly, whose rum and raisin jelly is an essential ingredient in Elvis the King. He said it was the best sandwich he had ever eaten. It was my last chance to try one, so I wasn’t going to miss it.
Suzy, real name Suzanne Iseminger — whose restaurant (narrowly) survived the COVID pandemic — finally threw in the towel on the orders of her doctor and her daughter. During the pandemic, she ran the restaurant, only selling takeout to loyal customers who liked her food. “I was making $2,200 a day cooking on my own.” Ironically, for someone whose health is pushing her to close, she has never been infected with COVID. Although COVID certainly contributed to the destruction of his business.
“I’m retiring,” she said. “I had life-threatening anemia.” It almost killed her two weeks ago when blood loss, shortness of breath and dizziness sent her to the doctor just in time to save her life. She had lost two pints of blood. “If I had waited to go to the doctor, I probably would have died,” she said. She also had a mini-stroke, brought on by all the stress of trying to keep the restaurant open. She spent six hours in the hospital to receive a life-saving transfusion.
“I put my heart and soul into it. But I’m retiring. Doctor’s orders and my daughter’s,” she said.
It’s the end of a 42-year career in the kitchen. His customers will miss him. “I have a ton of loyal customers who say, ‘I’m so sorry you’re closing!’ ”
If the Elvis the King sandwich is your thing, Suzy will be making them for her customers until the last breath on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Sweet Dreams Combo French Toast made with a cinnamon roll or croissant.
What will she do now? “I’m going to take it easy for a month and then I’m going to travel. I like to drive. I love the mountains and the wine country,” she said.
The place will remain a place where you can eat well. A restaurant with a fresh concept with hot and cold dishes will soon open its doors there. No doubt I will write about it.