At Joan & Sue’s Family Restaurant, it feels like stepping into grandma’s house, complete with the wood paneling, tchotchkes and feeling of relaxation.
It’s the kind of place where you’re served, but there’s also a measure of comfort afforded everyone to simply help themselves. A sign says “Help Thyself” underneath a table outfitted with cups and pitchers full of ice water. A basket of napkins sits on every table. One in our party commented that the diner looks like one you would find in the Adirondacks, an effect created by the mishmash of items on the wall, including a large fish, and cozy interior.
Here, you won’t suffer from decision fatigue, and, in an age of enormous menus, there’s something awfully nice about that. In fact, there aren’t even menus handed out — just a couple of boards on the wall, one listing the breakfast menu, served until 11 a.m., and the other listing lunch.
We settled pretty quickly on breakfast: two eggs, toast, home fries and bacon ($7.75), French toast ($6.25) and a round of coffee. The only items on the breakfast menu were some variations of eggs, toast, home fries, bacon, sausage and French toast, but we were more than OK with this. It is refreshingly simple.
Our server came around to pour coffee. She shared with us that her grandfather opened the diner for her grandmother, Joan. That was 40 years ago this year. Joan, 81, was still commandeering the cooking in the back. Joan’s daughter, Sue, is where the other half of the restaurant's name comes from. She, too, was helping out in the kitchen.
Our food arrived shortly after. The eggs were cooked a perfect medium, the toast well-buttered and the home fries tasted deep-fried. They could have used a bit more seasoning, particularly salt, but were still very tasty. The bacon was bountiful. Most diners serve three strips; at Joan & Sue’s, it’s four. It was thick-cut, crispy and flavorful, a notch above most other bacon.
“It’s a very comfortable feeling here,” one of my dining companion’s noted. We all agreed. At Joan & Sue’s there’s no pretenses, no pretending to be something other than what you are, and that put us immediately at ease.
We also perused the lunch menu, which includes the following: grilled cheese ($4.50), grilled cheese and ham ($6.50), BLT ($6.50), turkey sandwich ($6.50), turkey club ($8.50), ham sandwich ($6.50), tuna sandwich ($6.50), cheeseburger with fries ($8.50), chicken fingers with fries ($8.50), cup ($3) or bowl ($4) of soup, side of fries ($2.50) and hot dog ($2.75).
As we were finishing, our server waved goodbye. “I gotta take grandma home,” she said, ushering the cook, and establishment namesake, out the door.
At that point, Sue came out and took over server duties.
Would we return to Joan & Sue’s? Absolutely. It has loads of old-timey charm that’s not in the least bit manufactured. That, along with the longevity of the place, is something to celebrate.
Joan & Sue’s Family Restaurant
5407 S. Abbott Road, Orchard Park; 648-2410
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to around noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Wheelchair-accessible: small step to navigate
Gluten-free options: none