Brenda Lloyd is the new owner of the Sweet Stop and Sandwich Shoppe in Preston. She took over ownership on July 1. 
Brenda Lloyd is the new owner of the Sweet Stop and Sandwich Shoppe in Preston. She took over ownership on July 1. CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER

When Brenda Lloyd started working for Jo Szuch at the Sweet Stop and Sandwich Shoppe in downtown Preston back in 2013, it was just a part-time gig for the summer. Little did she know that within four years that part-time job would grow to full-time occupation and then ownership of the quaint café at 110 St. Anthony Street.

“I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do in Preston, but I love the town and wanted to find something and stay here. I guess that’s just what happened,” Lloyd said recently. “Jo and I signed the papers on June 30 and I took over ownership on July 1.”

Lloyd and Szuch hit it off right away four years ago when Lloyd moved to Preston in May of 2013. The working relationship evolved into a friendship and ultimately into a business transaction.

“I never dreamed of owning my own business when I was growing up,” Lloyd admitted. “But the longer I worked at the Sweet Stop, got to know all of the friendly people of the Preston area, the more I felt this was where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do for a living.”

After operating the Sweet Stop for more than 14 years, Szuch decided she wanted to sell the café. She thought she had a buyer, but the deal fell through. Some time later, while discussing this with Lloyd, Szuch asked her employee if she might be interested in buying it.

“I knew Jo was thinking about selling and I had discussed this with my fiancée Mike Eickhoff. He encouraged me to pursue it, so I did. Jo and I came to an agreement, and here I am,” she said smiling, as she looked around the interior of her new business.

Lloyd grew up in Union, Iowa. She has worked on and off in the food business for many years. She worked as the swing manager at a McDonald’s and also at a Albertson’s grocery store, both in Tyler, Texas. She moved back to the Midwest and Cresco, then lived in LeRoy for about six years before relocating in Preston.

“The Preston valley is such a beautiful place. I love the bluffs, and the people here are so friendly. We have our regulars and also the tourists. It’s a nice mix of customers,” she added.

Lloyd plans to keep everything at the Sweet Stop pretty much the same. “Everybody loves what we’ve been doing, so why fix something that isn’t broke?” she said with a laugh.

The hours will be from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. When asked if she was planning on working seven days a week, Lloyd noted that Szuch agreed to help out, at least for the time being and will be covering the weekend hours.

Lloyd’s daughter Tiana Plagman is helping her mother this summer and there are two other part-time employees as well.

“When winter arrives, we will cut back on the hours we’ll be open,” Lloyd added. “We plan to keep the menu pretty much the same as it has been.”

When asked what she enjoys the most about her new business, Lloyd replied it’s interacting with her customers and keeping them happy.