Susan’s coffee shop closing soon

Kevin Gareau

Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant to open

Kent coffee drinkers will soon have one less option. Susan’s Coffee and Tea will close its doors on at 2 p.m. March 28.

Susan’s owner Linda Smithers confirmed the Kent store will close. 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 last night. 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 has 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.

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 has spent a lot of time there. She said she was saddened by the news Susan’s is closing, even though she had 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.”

Dan Smith, Kent economic development director, said the city had not yet been informed about the closing.

“No one from Susan’s has reached out to the City of Kent at this time,” Smith said.

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.”

– Kevin Gareau