Groundbreaking held for Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen

Dining establishment to serve as training center for hospitality careers

A rendering shows the design planned for the new Miss Susie’s. Image courtesy of the TablesSeide Cares

The opening of Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen moved a big step forward on Feb. 20: The groundbreaking was held at 1741 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota, project partners announced.

The dining establishment will provide hospitality training and jobs to local residents, a news release points out.

Representatives of the City of Sarasota, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and other supporters and contributors joined with the nonprofit organization TableSeide Cares for the 11 a.m. event, the release notes.

Miss Susie’s was an affordable restaurant in Newtown with a Southern hospitality influence, the release points out. The revived dining establishment — set for completion in the fall — is expected to employ between 11 and 15 people who live in the neighborhood, the release adds.

The casual eatery will allow guests to order their food from a service line and then dine in at community tables or take out their orders, the release continues. The menu will offer “comfort food,” including fried chicken, grits, macaroni and cheese and homemade pie, “with all items $10 or less,” the release stresses. Miss Susie’s will be open daily for lunch and dinner.

Hiring is expected to begin one-month prior to the opening, with staff training commencing two weeks before the opening, the release notes.

The goal of the project, the release explains, “is to create a viable, locally led business and to develop staff with the kitchen and hospitality skills necessary for the operation of both the back of the house — kitchen, business aspects — and the front of the house — the hospitality portion.

“In reviving the site and creating careers for residents of Newtown, the new restaurant will pay homage to Miss Susie, a Newtown icon whose restaurant served as a gathering place for families in the neighborhood for decades,” the release says.

Initially, the TableSeide Restaurant Group, led by CEO Joe Seidensticker and executive chef Fran Casciato, will be responsible for overseeing the capital budget, the release continues. After the restaurant operation begins, the release notes, TableSeide Restaurant Group will provide pro bono services to support the initiative at least through its first year of operation.

The restaurant group also has entered into a 10-year lease agreement with property owner Thelma Upshaw, the release says. Upshaw’s sisters, Jone Williams and Valerie Reeves, will serve as restaurant managers.