Familiar, friendly face helps students feel right at home


by Blake Carlson, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — There is one thing Crouse Cafe and Tyler’s Grille have in common: Janet Smith.

She’s lived in Indianola for 40 years, and she’s been a waitress for 30 of those.

Smith started at Simpson only six years ago, and just two years ago at Crouse Cafe but has had quite an impact.

You probably know her familiar face during the lunch rush at Tyler’s asking how life is and doing her best to provide students with something close to a home-cooked meal.

“Janet is amazing. She is so kind and is always interested in everyone’s lives,” said sophomore Mollie Juehring, who is just one of the many Simpson students who chooses Tyler’s over the other campus dining options so they can get a chance to see Smith.

“She somehow remembers my order, puts my food on the grill when I walk in, and gives me a familiar smile no matter how busy she is,” Juehring said.

Smith’s impact reaches farther than Simpson’s campus however.

You can find her working at Crouse Cafe on the Indianola downtown square on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On the weekends, students often try their best to be seated in Smith’s section for breakfast.

Abbie Carpenter is a sophomore who is forced to navigate college life with a food allergy.

“Janet accommodates my celiac disease and does her very best to make sure my food never crosses any gluten. That means a lot because it’s super difficult to eat gluten free in college,” Carpenter said.

The Crouse Cafe, which is at 115 E. Salem Ave., is known for its baked-fresh homemade pies, friendly service and small-town atmosphere. It is no surprise Smith carries these values with her when serving students at Simpson during the school week.

“She is just fantastic because she always has a smile on,” Carpenter said.

Smith encourages students to check out the iconic family-owned cafe not just to come visit her but also because students get a 10 percent discount when they present their student ID.

It is clear she loves what she does, but when asked why Smith still does it at Simpson after all these years, she simply responded, “the kids.”