The name is the same, and the pancakes are back…Butto customers, change is evident at the reopened Sweet Sue’s in Phoenicia. Owner Noel Wiggins, a first-timer in the restaurant business, has a rich background in hospitality and food appreciation. Manager Ben Crespi has restaurant experience in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. Both appreciate that Sue’s is an existing brand, loved by the community.
Sweet Sue’s has a long and hallowed history at 49 Main Street in Phoenicia. It opened when Sue Taylor first donned an apron and began flipping flapjacks in 1984. Her cakes were such that they eventually became famous throughout the Catskills and up and down the Hudson Valley. Word of them reached the Five Boroughs. People came from all over to eat at Sue’s.
The life of the restaurant was a bit of a wild ride, and although the business survived several bumps along the way, when the pandemic struck Sue closed her doors for good. Noel and Ben, who had long been fans of Phoenicia, purchased the business. They renovated the restaurant and kitchen. New equipment was installed and all mechanical systems were repaired or upgraded. On May 27, Sweet Sue’s opened for business serving breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Monday, providing an early breakfast option for people who want to get on with their day.
Ben planned the menu. It has pancakes, all from Sue’s original recipes, but the remaining menu items, which are many, were developed in-house by Ben and the staff. Ranging from the Best Waffle Ever and Smoked Brisket Sandwich to the Hog Johnson and the vegan Green Goddess Salad, the menu covers a lot of culinary territory. Some of the recipes, such as the Best Waffle Ever and a Mushroom Egg Sandwich Platter, are meals that Ben has been cooking for years—mostly developed to please his son and daughter. The coffee is roasted about ten minutes away and the restaurant serves a full complement of espresso beverages. Robin Kirk, whose family has owned The Nest Egg in Phoenicia since 1968, said, “There has been lots of talk, people come in with their special coffee, so it’s obvious folks from Sue’s are wandering around town.”
“Sundays at the old Sue’s were always packed,” said Kirk.“ People would come into the stores while waiting for tables.” David Pillard, who has owned Tender Land Home, a local gift shop for 20 years, sees a positive change in energy in town since the reopening of Sue’s. “It’s noticeable when you come past The Eagle onto Main Street. There is a nicer buzz in town.” He is grateful for another viable business in a building that was vacant.
The new Sweet Sue’s is a convenience for residents of the area and a revived trendy destination for out-of-towners. The clientele is about half locals and half visitors. The restaurant is providing local jobs for a staff that includes ten workers on any given day—Sue Taylor’s sister Kathy being among the employees. Some of these folks used to travel to Kingston for work. They now commute a few minutes. Ben, the manager, sees a bright future for Sue’s which might include a BYOB evening jazz bar, a market for food to go, salad dressings, and smoked meats. He says Sue’s is a fun venue with a good vibe. It’s obvious from talking with him that he likes what he’s doing.