Sunny side up
Published 6:50 pm Friday, April 21, 2023
The Sunny Spot is shining brightly as spiritual successor to Johnny’s Skillet
Even on rainy days it’s sunny at what was once the Johnny’s Skillet location.
That’s because The Sunny Spot is taking up the mantle, serving familiar and welcoming meals in its quaint location across from Hormel Foods Corporate South.
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Now owned by longtime Johnny’s Skillet employee Jenny Johnson, The Sunny Spot is more than food. It’s the place to be.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and it’s kind of sentimental to me because it was my dad’s place to meet his buddies for lunch every day,” Johnson said earlier this week just after closing. “They were all retired and they would get together … talk about sports and politics for an hour or so, have some laughs and be on their way.”
Her dad was John Murphy, and even though he’s been passed now for six years, his spirit echoes the spirit of all those who would flock to the location for ample, home-cooked meals.
“We’re a classic, American diner, homestyle cooking,” Johnson said. “Just your great breakfasts. Picture perfect, beautiful breakfasts and homemade hotdishes.”
Johnson herself has had a long history working in diners and cafes.
Having lived in Austin all her life, Johnson had always worked in customer service in restaurants. Some of those establishments have been at familiar locations in Rose Creek and Brownsdale but she also worked at one point at Jerry’s Other Place for 20 years.
For Johnson, it’s all about the people.
“I love the little cafe because it’s so small,” she said. “People, when they come in here, you do interact with people who are here. You are going to say ‘hi’ to people. It’s charming. I love little cafes.”
Johnson took over at the end of February and she said that although people will recognize the spirit of the establishment, Johnson has made some changes to the place to make it her own.
“Everything is different,” she said. “We painted and the pictures and the decor is all different. The way things are arranged and the tables, it’s pretty much the same though. If you had been here before you would notice the colors were different.”
The Sunny Spot is currently open at 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, however, Johnson said she does get the occasional comment about being open on the weekends.
However, for the time being Johnson said she is content with how things are. They are plenty busy and at the same time she wants to make sure her small staff, which features full time employees Megan Goodyear and Chrissy Getchell along with parttimers, remain happy, free from too much pressure on her employees.
“I have to protect them from being burned out and we want to have everyone energized to be here,” Johnson said. “I need to make sure we’re all happy to be here.”
And so, The Sunny Spot will keep to its schedule and will continue to do what it does best — making sure people are getting the best meal they could ask for.
“I know John Clark would be happy that it’s still going,” Johnson said, referring to the former owner. “A lot of people meet here regularly. I call it Cheers without the beers. It’s very much like that.”