Sue Johnson, empress of blueberry pancakes, rules in Columbia Heights


Though Sue Johnson wears many hats – and an occasional apron — I think of her as the Empress of Blueberry Pancakes and the leader in developing Columbia Heights’ fledgling Eat Street (my term).

For decades I have made the pilgrimage to Columbia Heights precisely for the blueberry buttermilk “scratch” pancakes and sausage at the cozy haven formerly known as Peterson’s Bacon and Egg Café. Truth to tell, there’s more on the menu, but why mess with perfection! Sue Johnson has always been on hand with bottomless coffee pot, a hearty laugh, and a keen recall of every customer’s name and regular order!

Three years ago Sue and her husband Steve purchased the legendary neighborhood gathering spot from retiring owner Bob Peterson. They changed the name to Johnson’s Bacon and Egg Café with a friendly note on the chalkboard.

With her usual equanimity, sunny disposition and obvious management skills Sue somehow keeps her restaurant on an even keel while continuing to serve mountains of the world’s best blueberry pancakes – and more breakfast treats — to a steady stream of neighbors and “out-of-towners” like me and my friends, many of whom have joined me – never once, but many times – on the pancake quest to my favorite breakfast hangout.

In addition to her management and culinary skills and her warm welcome for every comer, Sue has a heretofore untapped flair for interior decoration that makes the meal just that much more inviting  The perky poultry figures that have long been the hallmark of the cafe have been joined by photos of regular customers in whimsical poses – accompanied by seasonal decorations mounted by the indomitable Sue. Today I stopped by Johnson Bacon and Egg Café for a Halloween treat (many occasions do call for a blueberry pancake!) What I found were ghosts and goblins, pumpkins, skeletons, and Chief Cook and Bottlewasher Sue Johnson finely attired as a stunning lioness – still chatting and laughing with customers, but with a gentle lion-ish demeanor.

Johnson’s Bacon and Egg is located at 513 40th Northeast, between Central and University. They’re open Monday-Friday 6:00 -2:00, Saturdays 7:00-2:00, and Sundays 8:00–1:00.  Occasionally, especially Wednesdays and Thursdays, Sue and her husband take off or their Harley or then again Sue may curl up with a good read, often borrowed from the Columbia Heights Public Library, just down the road from the Café.