Susan’s closes its doors

Kevin Gareau

Kent coffee drinkers have one less option after Susan’s Coffee and Tea closed its doors Saturday.

Susan’s owner Linda Smithers said the property has been sold to Wholesome Development, LLC, which will open a Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in the building. The Akron Susan’s store will remain open.

Smithers, who lives in Florida, told store employees about the closing in a meeting March 18. She said the store is closing for two main reasons.

“First, we had a great buyer at a great price,” she said. “Second, it’s not easy being an absentee owner. Even with an extremely competent staff, there are some obligations that are very difficult to meet.”

Store employees will have a chance to apply to work at Five Guys and will also be given the choice to work at the Akron Susan’s store.

Caroline Liebman, who worked at Susan’s for three years, said things had not been going very well at the store lately.

“Business hasn’t been as good as it was in the past, and we’ve had problems with vendors and things like that,” Liebman said.

Liebman added that while employees were offered other employment, some will not be able to take advantage of it.

“A lot of us are not able to make it to Akron, and the training for the new place that’s going in here would be in Montrose, which is a little inconvenient,” she said.

Karl Vorndran, another Susan’s employee, said he had been expecting the store to close, but he was hoping it would not happen this soon.

“It’s really sad,” Vorndran said. “I just love working here and I was hoping (they would) at least wait until the end of the school year to close.”

Smithers said Susan’s will continue operating its roasting plant, and will try to bolster its wholesale and mail order coffee business.

Kent resident Wilma Crawford has been going to Susan’s since it opened in 1991, and spent a lot of time there. She said she was saddened by the news Susan’s is closing, even though she heard rumors about the closing and employees knew it was only a matter of time until it happened.

“It’s not unexpected, but really sad,” Crawford said. “It’s one of the nicest places in town, with a true coffee house atmosphere.”

Smithers said it is sad to have to close the store, and she emphasized the fact that the closing has nothing to do with Kent, which she said has “more than embraced Susan’s Coffee and Tea.”

“It’s not an issue of whether we can do business in Kent,” she said. “Kent has always embraced good businesses.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kevin Gareau at [email protected].