Candie Ryan moved to Valparaiso in 1990 and has since built herself quite the home. From watching her mother open a local favorite, Suzie’s Café, to enjoying the simple life that the town of Valparaiso can offer, Ryan felt her life fall into place while she put in the work along the way.
Ryan began working for her mom’s café full time in 1998 after graduating high school, just two years after the Café first opened its doors in spring of 1996. She started off as a server and has since worked her way to Vice President, learning each step along the way.
“I loved being a server, but looking back, I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I do now,” Ryan said. “It’s never a chore to come to work; it’s my home away from home.”
Ryan mainly oversees the catering side of the café’s business, helping organize large events including weddings, bridal and baby showers, graduation parties, and more.
Over the years, Suzie’s has gained quite the fanbase and has become a staple for many families, friends, and loved ones to gather for coffee, treats, or a meal. One of Ryan’s favorite aspects of her job at Suzie’s is getting to know community members and building friendships along the way.
“We have many regulars, and I’ve made countless connections over the years. I feel like we know someone in just about every field –there’s been so many healthy, strong relationships built,” she said.
Ryan works alongside her mother, Suzie, and one of her three sisters, Chelsea.
“It’s awesome working together. We’re all very close. Some people might find it difficult to work alongside their family members, but we make it work really well,” Ryan said.
Even when the three are off the clock, spending family time together is a high priority. Between Ryan’s daughter and her sisters’ kids, the family has blessed their parents with six grandchildren.
“We live within walking distance from each other and always make time to get together to have the kids play in one of our backyards,” Ryan said.
Growing up while her mother worked to run a business has been a main source of inspiration for Ryan.
“It’s all I’ve ever known. I remember being about 9 years old and my mom would pay me and my sisters 10 cents per peeled potato for catering jobs,” Ryan said. “It’s been a joy to watch my mom grow her business from 1,100 sq. ft. and 11 tables to 5,000 sq. ft. with 37 tables.”
Ryan looks up to her mother as a role model not just because of the work she’s done with Suzie’s Café, but also for her guidance through life.
“She was always such a great mom. My family grew up religious and both my parents instilled those values within us. They also taught us to have a strong work ethic and how to become strong, independent women growing up,” Ryan said.
These values still hold strong, and Ryan thanks her parents for that.
“Both of my parents have taught me so much. My mom has set me and Chelsea up to take over the business one day when she retires, and my dad taught me what is important in a man and what to look for in a husband while also being independent,” Ryan said. “These are all things I get to instill in my daughter for her future.”
In her free time, Ryan enjoys reading (about four to six books a month to be exact), shopping, and exercising with a personal trainer.
Looking forward, she hopes to continue to balance her two passions –Suzie’s Café and spending time with her family.
“I always remember the saying, ‘Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life,’” Ryan said. “Having this balance is so important.”