The owners of Big Sue's Kitchen, the country-style kitchen that opened this week in Towson at the former Ridgely & Ferrens space, came to their new venture with experience from a part-time pizza shop in Dundalk.
But after five months of renovations and preparations at Big Sue's, the Dixon family is still learning that building a restaurant is done in much the same manner as they prepare food — from scratch.
"It was a big transition," Fred Dixon, a Freeland resident, said. "We're still feeling the effects of it."
Big Sue's Kitchen opened on Tuesday, April 2 with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Towson Chamber of Commerce. Dixon said that not even their strong religious beliefs — and aversion to superstitions — could overcome their fear of opening Monday on April Fool's Day.
Since then, people from the Towson community have trickled in to sample the menu, which is based on the family recipes of Fred's wife, Sue Dixon. Big Sue's Kitchen offers an extensive breakfast menu with breakfast sandwiches and burritos, plus pancakes and French toast.
There's also a variety of lunch options, including burgers, subs and pizza. The culinary theme of the menu is the same as the the shop's motto, "A Taste of Home."
"It's homemade food," Fred Dixon said. "It doesn't come out of a box or a can, it's not stuff that's frozen and tossed on a grill."
The space has been completely transformed since the Dixon family bought it in late October.
The Dixon family, under the advice of Fred, a retired contractor, has opened up the old market space into a bright eatery. The family re-surfaced the walls, remodeled the bathrooms and installed a long kitchen area along the eastern wall of the restaurant to provide the feel of a luncheonette.
The seating area is open and centered around a gas fireplace on the wall, a feature the Dixon's hope will complement their comfort food with a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere.
"They've done an unbelievable job of renovating the inside of the old Ridgely & Ferrens, and their food is phenomenal," Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford said. "The chicken salad is so fresh, the hamburger is top quality — it's a wonderful, affordable place to eat."
Fred Dixon said the Towson community has been welcoming so far, something Hafford credits to their willingness to work with the surrounding businesses.
"I like the fact that they're cross-marketing, buying desserts from La Cakerie," Hafford said. "That shows how our businesses work together."