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If you were to look up the meaning of true hospitality, you’d find Susan’s Family Restaurant in Springdale as a definition. It’s where you’re treated like family, well-fed, and you leave with the feeling that you can’t wait to come back.
In 1996, Susan Mhoon put the “we are open” sign on the door of her restaurant at 6 a.m. and never looked back. When a restaurant has been going strong for over 25 years, I believe it’s only right to pay attention.
Susan wasn’t planning on naming the restaurant after herself. In fact, she was trying to name it something completely different, yet everyone who knew her said that people were still going to call it Susan’s. She relented, but only after insisting that “Family” was prominently featured in the name.
Nowadays, while Susan isn’t physically working in the restaurant, she is very much an active part. Her son, Lucius Mhoon, runs the business and makes the decisions, trying to juggle the role of general manager and owner of Pozza’s Pasta all at the same time. Thankfully, technology is allowing Susan to connect with her home-away-from-home, from home.
Lucius began working at Susan’s Family Restaurant when he was just 16 years old, along with his younger sister Hannah (who is now a teacher a block away at Springdale High School).
At 16, Lucius started washing dishes and worked his way around the restaurant. He says he “feels old” now because he remembers what it was like as a teenager putting kids in high chairs, and now they have grown up and put their kids in high chairs.
The Mhoon’s roots are strongly planted in Springdale and Tontitown. Lucius still lives in the house he grew up in, raising his own family. His mom is from the Parsons family, who owns the Parson Stadium in Springdale. His dad’s family was from the Tontitown Italian side, so Lucius grew up in the Venetian Inn, eating Tontitown pasta and working at the grape festivals. It’s no wonder that he and his wife own Pozza’s Pasta, the pasta served at Susan’s Family Restaurant and is stocked in local grocery stores all over the region.
The first thing you will notice at the restaurant and on the website is this funny saying. What does it mean? Who came up with it? As Lucius puts it,
“That’s just my mom. Her personality is always just here. Because of her, we’re always trying to add a funny saying on our marquee. In fact, we post to our Facebook page. You’ll see a lot of them posted that goes back through the years.”
In case you were wondering, yes. Yes, they are definitely famous here locally!
When a restaurant is opened EVERY DAY (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day) from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., you just GOT to know that everything that is popular STAYS on the menu.
If you’re worried that consistency means boring, cross that off your worry list. Daily breakfast and lunch specials are posted online every day. Every day, one classic plate special stays the same, i.e., Fried Chicken and Spaghetti Wednesdays. Along with the classics, they will rotate something different to add variety and consistency at the same time.
I asked Lucius what his favorite menu item was, and he said it would be like choosing between his children. As I pressed harder, he admitted that it had to be their spaghetti and fried chicken. This happens to be my favorite menu item, too.
Their Chicken Fried Chicken is a thinly sliced (and BIG!) chicken breast that has been marinated and tenderized overnight, then coated in their secret breading and buttermilk bath and fried up and topped with cream gravy. I recommend you ask for it on the side because they slather it generously.
Add a plate of spaghetti with sauce and a side salad, and you will never leave hungry!
Breakfast is served from 6 a.m.-2 p.m., and I highly recommend you start there with your first visit and go with an omelet. These are stuffed and not fluffed omelets. They make them by spreading a layer of scrambled eggs on the flat top grill, adding the toppings of your choice, and folding them together like a burrito.
Scratch that. I highly recommend you start with a breakfast plate of Chicken Fried Chicken with a side of eggs. That way, you’ll get to experience their incredible chicken as well as enjoy your eggs with breakfast for a win/win.
And – if you’re still hungry – check out the pie case and pick from delicious homemade pies.
Lucius is proud they didn’t have to let a single employee go because of the pandemic.
“They know we will be there for them in tough times. The best compliment I get when it’s Sunday and we have 50 people in line and we’re cranking through orders, super busy and a customer will ask, “How is your staff still smiling?” It’s because we care for each other, and we like each other.”
“If you don’t like people, don’t be in the food business. It’s the combination. It’s not the food, it’s the people. We are the epicenter. From minimal wage factor workers eating here up to millionaires and billionaires. Doctors and nurses. Meat factory workers and families. Newborns with high chairs and helping people to their seats that I’ve been helping for 25 years. We are everyone. In a way, southern hospitality is about taking care of each other. Tying that together with food and people. You can’t have one without the other. Our customers and teammates. Good food and good times.”
Even though Lucius says that everything is about people, I think their food is pretty special, too.
Susan’s Family Restaurant
1440 W Sunset Ave.
Open every day – 6 a.m.-2 p.m.
Closed three days a year: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day
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