In 2007, Ginger Fuller left her corporate career behind to open a neighborhood cafe in downtown Liberty with her husband David Bradley, who had a background in the restaurant industry.
Their breakfast-and-lunch restaurant, Ginger Sue’s, quickly attracted a loyal following with its fluffy buttermilk pancakes, golden breakfast potatoes and crispy bacon seasoned with rosemary, black pepper and sugar. Fuller and Bradley, who live in Westwood, opened a second Ginger Sue’s five years later in Lee’s Summit. Three months ago, they added a third location on the opposite side of the area, in Olathe’s Shops of Avignon.
“We are a neighborhood place — our tagline is ‘eat among friends’ — and we’ve always been in suburban, residential areas, so Olathe seemed like a great fit,” Fuller says.
The Olathe Ginger Sue’s is located in the former 119th Street Diner spot at 14178 W. 119th St. During remodeling, Fuller and Bradley had a U-shaped bar removed and installed banquettes along one wall. They kept the warm wood floors and painted the walls the color of a buttered biscuit. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of sun and make the space feel bright and open, even on a gray morning.
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The Olathe Ginger Sue’s has a more modern vibe than the original location in Liberty, a former telephone company office with exposed brick, crimson walls and windows overlooking quaint Kansas Street. The menu, however, is exactly the same.
Ginger Sue’s is known for its plate-sized pancakes, which come in a wide range of flavors (peanut butter-banana, apple cinnamon, chocolate chip and seasonal flavors such as pumpkin and carrot cake). I’m partial to the blueberry pancakes ($4 for a half stack of two), which come with warm maple syrup and fruit compote made by simmering strawberries and blueberries down to a thick syrup.
If you like spicy breakfast dishes, try the Southwest Scramble ($7.50) or the breakfast burrito ($8.50). The vegetarian scramble tops golden breakfast potatoes with scrambled eggs, black beans, green chiles, corn, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. The potatoes, seasoned with rosemary, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, also come alongside the hefty breakfast burrito, which wraps whipped eggs, cheddar-jack cheese, green chiles, chorizo, avocado and green onions in a warm crepe.
Ginger Sue’s also serves six specialty omelettes. On a recent Tuesday morning, I was tempted by the Aloha Awakea ($7.75), a Hawaiian-inspired omelette made with pineapple, ham, shredded cheese and toasted coconut. But I ended up ordering the West Coast ($8.75), a best-seller that incorporates bacon and avocado. The omelette came with plenty of breakfast potatoes and a flaky biscuit, which I dunked in a side of gravy (75 cents).
The Olathe cafe also has a coffee bar. The cappuccino ($3.20) tops rich Rococo espresso with frothy milk foam. The classic coffee drink is served in a chunky white mug the size of a small soup bowl, so it’s perfect if you plan to sip and talk for a while.
Ginger Sue’s is a comfortable place to linger over a meal. The service is fast and friendly and the music will make you smile. The soundtrack to my meal ranged from swinging Sinatra to poppy Feist to one of my favorite songs by The White Stripes (”My Doorbell”).
The lunch menu features salads, sandwiches, wraps and comfort food fare such as meatloaf ($9.50) and country fried steak ($11.25). The spicy house-breaded pork tenderloin sandwich ($9.50) is a good pick for big appetites: The tenderloin hangs over the sides of its sesame seed bun. The Cobb salad ($10.25) is equally filling. Picture a big bed of romaine with ranch dressing, grilled chicken breast, tomato, avocado, bacon, hard-boiled egg and blue cheese.
The Cobb salad is a popular pick among Ginger Sue’s new regulars, many of whom walk there from nearby neighborhoods.
Fuller says she and Bradley are having fun making new regulars — and spending a lot of their time driving between Olathe, Lee’s Summit and Liberty.
“We’ve never worked harder, but we enjoy our work,” she says.
“We try to be a bright spot in everyone’s day.”
Sarah Gish writes about Johnson County restaurants every second and fourth week of the month. Contact her by calling 816-234-4823, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sarah_gish.
Location: 14178 W. 119th St. in Olathe
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily
Credit Cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Don’t Miss: The blueberry pancakes ($4 for a half stack of two) and the West Coast omelette ($8.75), a three-egg omelette stuffed with house-seasoned bacon, sliced avocado and cheddar-jack cheese. The omelette comes with breakfast potatoes and a biscuit.
Vegetarian: Try the Southwest Scramble ($7.50), eggs scrambled with green chiles, black beans, corn, tomato and pepper-jack cheese. The vegetarian breakfast is topped with salsa, sour cream and sliced green onion. The lunch menu offers a black bean burger for $7.50.