Today we met our August Mompreneur Sue Tierno, owner of Suzy’s Swirl located in Gurnee and Lake Bluff.
Suzy’s Swirl just turned 2 years old this month and they are celebrating with “Swirling Goodness!”
Suzy’s Swirl was the hard work of Sue and Sue’s sister Kathleen Wood. Sue and Kathleen built their business with true heart and passion in the midst of heartbreaking personal tragedy. The dream for Suzy’s Swirl began with a conversation between Kathleen and Sue’s husband Joe Tierno.
Kathleen had 30 years of success in the restaurant industry with a track record for building profitable restaurant companies and Joe had over 25 years in working in contracting. Both had the goal to start a thriving business that the family could create and grow with. In 2011, Kathleen and Joe began to turn their dreams into a reality.
On October 1, 2011 Joe unexpectedly passed away leaving Sue, their four children, and the business Joe and Kathleen had started to begin behind. The loss of Joe pushed Kathleen and Sue to build this dream together. The business reinstated Sue’s successful career in Sales and Marketing and eventually included Sue’s daughter Jen as a partner as well with Jen’s experience with Retail Management. Together these 2 sisters built their American dream and Joe’s vision into not one successful location but turned Suzy’s Swirl into two thriving locations!
Suzy’s Swirl Mission Statement reads:
“Re-ignite the American Dream by being the absolute best “famchise” for frozen goodness, exceptional service and active community involvement.”
Please tell me a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? When did you settle into your home in Lake County. Did you work for a company prior to opening Suzy’s Swirl? How did you meet your husband? What’s his name? How many kids to you have? How old are they are what are their names?
I grew up in Addison Illinois, I am the youngest of 4 and when I turned 16 my family moved to Bloomingdale Illinois. My husband Joe and I married when we were 23 and moved to McHenry Illinois in 1985. My Most important job has been Mom and Wife. I am the proud mother of 4 beautiful and intelligent kids: Jen 25, Joe 24, Jim 21 and Julie 16. Yes it is a mouthful!!
My husband’s side of the family is Italian and mine is Irish. He wanted our oldest daughter to be named Maria, and although lovely, I just couldn’t! Our youngest daughters middle name is Marie! That’s as close to Maria as we got!! Prior to Suzy’s Swirl I worked for the Johnsburg School District with children Pre-K to 2nd Grade! Joe and I went to the same High School, Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison. We met when we were 16, started dating at 18 and married at 23! Joe and I were married for 26 years when Joe unexpectedly passed away in October of 2011.
What was the catalyst that started your business?
Originally, Joe and I along with my sister, Kathy, were going to open a Chicago Food fast/casual shop. Chicago Dogs, Beefs and Meatballs. My sister Kathy has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years and Joe had been in the HVAC for over 30 years. The three of us have always talked about owning our own place. When Joe passed away we took a break for a bit.
In January-February of 2012, Kathy and I started talking about [opening a restaurant] again. We couldn’t find a place for the Chicago Food concept and we had been eating a lot of Frozen Yogurt. After a lot of research and sampling other yogurt places Kathy and I came up with the concept of Suzy’s Swirl.
Has it been difficult starting your own business while raising your family? What have been the biggest challenges?
I will not lie, yes, it has been difficult starting my own business and still raise a family! It has been a balancing act becoming a great juggler and wearing many different hats. The biggest challenge is trying to be there for both my business and kids. If I could just add 2 more hours to the day that would be so helpful!
Through this all I am learning whatever doesn’t get done today will still be there tomorrow. Plus it’s okay if the house isn’t perfectly clean and the laundry put away. My #1 priority has and always will be my family. The silver lining in all of this is that it is a family owned business.
It’s hard to have just one favorite part of my job! I love working in the stores, meeting the new customers and welcoming back the returning customers. I also really enjoy getting to know and work with our crew. We’ve made a commitment to teach, coach and lead them into working for a successful company. Plus, I really believe that we serve a quality product. Our Yogurt, Gelato and Sorbetto are AWESOME!
What is most important to you to make sure your customers know?
We have 2 stores now, one in Gurnee and one in Lake Bluff. In both stores we have our mission statement on the wall, right when you walk in.
We are committed to Swirling Goodness in a high quality product, exceptional customer service and cleanliness, Swirling Greatness in living the American Dream and creating jobs, careers and franchising and finally Swirling Gratitude for each and every customer who walks into Suzy’s Swirl!
We are not just a restaurant in the community we want to be THE communities restaurant! We are that extension of family, friends and community!
What do you do to recharge?
I have various ways to recharge! I really recharge going to Church each Sunday. It’s great getting an hour to sit still, pray, be surrounded by friends, family and genuine peace and love. I also like to read, try new restaurants and spend time with my family and friends! The best time is 10:00 pm when both stores are closed and I can climb into bed and relax!
How do you balance your family and work life?
I try my best to balance my work life and home life, although it doesn’t always work. I try not to beat myself up if I am late to a soccer game just as long as I get there. I do my best to communicate with my kids what my schedule is and what their schedule is. I also try to still have family dinners. To find balance, I think you just have to give yourself time to figure it all out and to be kind to yourself. Just like those little books say, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.
Sue wants you to come visit and see just how Swirlin’ Good they are! Print or show them this coupon when you visit!