The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Iconic Malt Shop To Remain Open
By John Gore
THE MORNING NEWS
ROGERS — Longtime residents driving along Second Street noticed the Susie Q's Malt Shop at the intersection of Arkansas 12 and Second Street had been closed for several weeks.
Many residents speculated the Rogers icon had closed for good.
Susie Q's opened Monday. Patsy Head Simmons, Susie Q's owner, said Wednesday she leased the restaurant to former employee Sheila "Goldie" Williams.
The lease is saving the longtime eatery from the wrecking ball that demolished many highway cafes, restaurants and drive-ins from the 1960s and 1970s to make room for fast-food franchises that sprang up to serve a new generation.
"That landmark is going and will keep going for a while," Simmons said.
"Goldie is very excited because she worked there for years when J.B. (Head) ran the restaurant. She's been working with J.B. to get all the original recipes from him so she can do it the same way he did," Simmons said.
The property has been in the Head family for more than five decades. Joe Head had a fruit stand at the location in 1950. Susie Q's was built in 1960, Williams said.
Williams and the man she is dating heard Susie Q's was closed down and was going to be sold.
"We were looking for restaurant equipment to buy," Williams said. "Patsy heard I was interested in the equipment and called me. I went over to talk to her and she offered to lease the Susie Q to me," Williams said.
"I talked to her and now I feel like I'm at home," Williams said through the sliding window where customers walk up to order food at the restaurant.
Susie Q's is much the same as it was in the 1960s and 1970s when teenagers made the place a hangout in the summer. The original neon sign still marks the restaurant, although the lights haven't worked in years.
John Sampier, a Rogers native, former mayor and now executive director of Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority, said he has fond memories of Susie Q's as a young man.
"It is an iconic landmark in a community like Rogers," Sampier said. "It's like a Route 66 landmark."
The restaurant has been part of the business community in Rogers for more years than Sampier can remember, he said.
"The Head family has been involved for generations in the business of community affairs in Rogers. I'm glad it's going to continue. It's a place people like to come back to," Sampier said.
Sampier remembers when he was mayor he went to Susie Q's for a burger and ran into somebody he was surprised to see.
"I looked over at one of the benches and Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt was sitting there eating a burger," he said.
Raymond Burns, executive director of the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, confirmed Hammerschmidt ate at Susie Q's just about every time he was in town.
Derk Wilson, another Rogers native, remembered taking his wife to Susie Q's for cherry soda.
"She would tell me she wanted a cherry soda and we'd go to Susie Q's. It was the only cherry soda she liked." Wilson said.
Likewise Lanie Hines remembers her whole family going to Susie Q's when she was a child.
"We would all load up in the car and off we'd go. It was a special treat for us," Hines said. She said she always had the same thing, "A Susie Q burger, Susie Q curly fries and Coke."
Johnny Kirkendall, dressed in overalls, wearing a baseball cap, and driving a car hauler for a dealership in Van Buren stopped Wednesday afternoon at Susie Q's.
"This is my third time here," Kirkendall said. "The first time I stopped here to get something to eat, I had a burger. It was the best burger I've ever had. Generally, I don't like hamburgers."
The second time he stopped Susie Q's was closed.
"I thought I'd try Susie Q's one more time and today it was open. I wanted my partner to try one of these burgers. I know he is going to love it, too," Kirkendall said as Williams handed him burgers and fries through the sliding window.
AT A GLANCE
Favorites From Susie Q's Menu
• Chili made from scratch
• Susie Q burger and fries
• The Big Pig, a freshly breaded pork tenderloin on a toasted bun
• Mom's Special, a quarter-pound cheeseburger topped with quarter-pound shaved smoke ham
• Susie Q barbecue
Source: Staff Report