Widow honors Eat’n Park staff

Published Feb 6, 2013 at 11:53 am (Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 11:53 am)

Susan Johnston McDade presented Bridgeville Eat ‘N Park manager Andy Gulish with a certificate of appreciation Feb. 1, for helping her cope and adjust to losing her husband, Jim, 13 months ago. The certificate also recognized the support she received from the staff that she referred to as family. Before his death, the couple would eat at the restaurant three to four times a week.

Susan Johnston McDade loved her late husband Jim, and when he suffered an unexpected fatal stroke on Dec. 19, 2011, and died two days later, her heart was broken.

She turned to the employees of the Eat’n Park in Bridgeville for comfort and support, even spending her first New Year’s Eve without him at the restaurant.

More than a year later, Sue McDade, who still tears easily when reminded of her late husband, honored the restaurant employees and management with a special certificate of appreciation.

Married for 19 years, the South Fayette Township couple would eat at the restaurant in Kirwan Heights three or four times a week. The staff, she said Feb. 1, kept her going with their love and support.

Since his death, her monthly social security was slashed, allowing her to eat at the family restaurant only once a week. She always has the salad bar and her late husband had chicken noddle soup.

The couple were known by just about everyone, said manager Andy Gulish. He remembers seeing the couple in the restaurant several times a week. And, although Gulish was unable to attend Jim McDade’s funeral, he oversaw the special order of 34 dozen Smiley Face cookies, each with bright blue eyes, a crooked grin and big red nose. Sue McDade, who grew up in East Washington, attended Immaculate Conception High School, and was a member of the last graduating class of East Washington High School in 1966, said the couple was rarely without crayons and clown noses to entertain the young eaters. Hence, the cookie decorations.

Gulish said the restaurant’s clientele is usually family-oriented and there are several diners similar to the McDade’s. One couple, he recalled, eats breakfast at the restaurant almost every day, always ordering the same oatmeal and rye toast.

“When we see them coming in, we know to put in the (order) ticket because we always know it will be the same,” Gulish said.

The McDades knew at first sight they were meant for each other. It was a second marriage for each. She has three children and he had seven children. They married the weekend they met.

Jim McDade was 82 years old when he died and with him went a huge piece of his wife’s heart and soul.

Several years ago, after trying out various restaurants in the South Hills, the couple settled on the Kirwan Heights Eat’n Park. The food was good, and as Sue McDade said, “It was the staff, they are like my family. This Eat’n Park is unique, the management staff is unique and the employees are unique.”

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