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Sue's Kitchen Express
by Cody Moore, photography by Kayla Broadway

After many years of being a Downtown Jonesboro staple, Sue’s Kitchen has recently taken its family history and beloved homemade creations to a brand-new location.

Opened on Main Street by Jonesboro native Sue Robinson Williams in 1984, Sue’s Kitchen has remained a destination for those seeking an authentic, home-cooked meal served with Southern hospitality. When Sue decided to close the Main Street location in 1993, her son, John Williams, saw an opportunity to carry on his mother’s legacy and moved the business to its well-known Church Street Station location in 2010.

“I have been helping my mom with cooking and catering since before I can remember,” said John. “Everything she has taught me through the years has been so important to me, with the main thing being to always take care of our guests.”
After spending eight years in Church Street Station, John and his wife, Carrie, began constructing a new vision for Sue’s Kitchen. The two announced in June they would be moving Sue’s to a new location and re-branding the business as Sue’s Kitchen Express.

Sue’s Kitchen Express opened on Caraway Road in August and has introduced the community to a new side of the local eatery. Though the new Sue’s has most of the same menu items, updated features of the establishment include a streamlined ordering process and an extension of its Gourmet Shop, an idea that was attempted at the Church Street Station location.

“The traffic flow for our Gourmet Shop on Church Street was nonexistent,” said Carrie. “After lunch, there just wasn’t enough traffic flow to nurse along our Gourmet Shop, and that’s where we ultimately wanted to expand. We wanted the public to be able to come in, pick up meals and take them home whenever they wanted.”

Once guests walk into the comforting atmosphere of Sue’s Kitchen Express, the Gourmet Shop is hard to ignore. The Gourmet Shop includes a large fridge and freezer filled with an abundance of freshly cooked, made-from-scratch meals, hors d’oeuvres and desserts for guests to conveniently grab and take with them.

“Guests can come in and grab anything from our homemade meatloaf to our delicious mac and cheese from our fridges, then take Sue’s to the comfort of their homes,” said John. “We were a little unsure of how it would go because it was a new direction for us, but people seem to be loving it.”

Other family recipes that guests can find in the Gourmet Shop include Italian meatballs with marinara, Sue’s Chicken Salad, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Chicken and Dressing, savory homemade soups and Sue’s famous Chicken Spaghetti.

“If I could recommend something for our guests to try on their first visit, it would be the chicken spaghetti or the 3-Way Salad,” said John. “They’re both fresh, homemade and just really, really good.”

Extended breakfast hours are another new addition to Sue’s Kitchen Express. Express breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with a full brunch served on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Breakfast items include Sue’s homemade cinnamon rolls, jumbo muffins, biscuits and gravy, avocado toast and more.

“The Southern Pride Bowl is by far one of our most popular breakfast items,” said John. “The bowl includes fresh eggs, fried potatoes, homemade sausage gravy and melted cheddar cheese.”

With the holiday season just around the corner, John and his family are also planning to offer their popular holiday meal deals. These meal deals are only offered around holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and sell out extremely fast.
“The holiday meal deals are very popular come the holiday season,” said John. “The deals include items such as smoked turkey, green bean casserole, homemade cornbread dressing, gravy, cranberry relish, dinner rolls and one of our homemade desserts. You can’t beat it.”

Carrie, who helps as a baker at Sue’s, spends most of her time creating the delectable desserts that are sold in the store each day. Though the desserts change throughout the week, guests are likely to find the restaurant’s popular peanut butter pie in the case daily, along with other sweet treats.

“It’s hard to tell which desserts are most popular,” said Carrie. “It really depends on the season. We could sell out of carrot cake one week and chocolate chip cake the next. They’re all so different and so good.”

While the Gourmet Shop is big part of the new location, guests can still get the fast service and home-style meals served directly to them just as they did at the Church Street Station location. Sue’s Kitchen Express will also continue its catering services, as well as rent the venue out for events and gatherings.

“At the new location, you place your order up front, choose your drink, seat yourself and then your food will come to you very quickly,” said Carrie. “We still use real dishes, our waiters will still bring our freshly baked hot rolls and they’ll clean the tables for you – we just eliminated some of the other steps to make it more convenient and fast for our guests.”

Behind the Southern hospitality and the homemade recipes served at Sue’s lies a family that is still closely tied to the business. Whether she’s peeling potatoes or preparing cheese straws, Sue, now 86 years old, still works at the restaurant a couple of days a week.

“Sue loves the new location,” said John. “With her being in a wheelchair, it’s much easier for her to maneuver in and out of this building, versus the Church Street location where there were stairs.”

John and Carrie’s two children have also remained a part of the Sue’s Kitchen Express team. Cassie, 15, works there as a customer service representative whenever she isn’t at school, and Chance, 21, works as the assistant manager. Carrie’s mother, Sandra Pylant, also helps with kitchen tasks. It is a true family venture.

“My dad has taught me everything I know,” said Chance. “When I was little we would sit in the kitchen and roll out the dough for our homemade cinnamon rolls. He’d also show me how to make our gravy and all sorts of other things. We’ve all been doing this since we were very young, and I look forward to being here for a long time.”

Sue’s Kitchen has continued to evolve over the years, but one thing has remained the same – the love that the Williams family has for bringing the community of Jonesboro together with Sue’s home-cooked, Southern delicacies.

“Here at Sue’s Kitchen Express, we make our food from scratch using family recipes and the finest ingredients,” said John. “We put a lot into what we do here, and we want everyone who comes into Sue’s to enjoy the experience.”

Sue’s Kitchen Express is located at 1708 S. Caraway Road and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the Gourmet Shop open until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (870) 972-6000 or visit sueskitchenexpress.net.