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I worked at the Reno-Keystone store back in the early seventies.


Sambo's Corporate image of "Sambo" was Indian, from India. NEVER did any Sambo's have "Sambo" as a black kid. People are confusing their memories of the story of "little black sambo" with Sambo's the restaurant.


Very interested reading. Anyone know the Sambo's @ 4th & Keystone, and/or Plumb & Virginia in Reno? Long, long time ago....


Hi Everyone. We also had a Sambo's in the 1970's in Auburn, Maine. Reading the comments has been quite interesting! Here in Maine, as a child, I do recall Sambo portrayed as a little boy who was black; not Indian. I suspect that some locations did portray Sambo as African American and not Indian; however, I am not going to get into the fray of discriminatory, or not, etc. I too have memorabillia from Sambo's...the tiger with Sambo's written across his chest from the 1970's. He sits in my china closet as a reminder of my childhood :-)

Caol Labanowski

I remember Sambos on North Point Blvd in Baltimore Md. I have 2 Sambos Tiegers one called Tag Along with a baseball glove. I was sorry when they closed. We enjoyed it so much.


hey, im in Tasmania, Australia, have a wooden chip for a ten cent cup of coffee at sambo's, never knew what sambo's was till comin accross this thread.


Ah yes, Sambo's...I worked at one in Bakersfield, on Union Avenue and 18th St (there were 3 in town). From 1977-78. That was one of my first jobs. I was saving money to buy a keyboard, to play in a rock band. I was pulling double shifts--easy to do when you're still in your teens, lol. Waitressing was lot of hard work, but I have some fond memories. New York Steak dinners for around $4.95...the couple who always ordered eggs over easy and black coffee (had it ready by the time they sat down)...the old blues sax player, "Lucky", that sat at the counter...making special parfait sundaes for the paramedics and policemen...smiley pancakes for the kids...good times! I recall a group of tech-heads that I waited on, that showed me the latest gadget--a wireless, portable phone. Yep, an early cell phone! (they let me call my friend on it). I can close my eyes and still smell the pancake batter and see the mosaics telling the story of the little Indian boy and the tiger. I've still got my waitress tag, but lost my tiger pin long ago. (BTW, does anyone know where I can find a vintage tiger pin?) The Bakersfield Sambo restaruants became Seasons, I think, in the 1980s. Now they're different Mexican restaurants. At least the buildings are still there.


This is what happens when you don't proof read. I sent the above email....

CORRECTION...I started working at Sambos in the summers when I was 16, not 13.

Also, when they closed I got one of the Sambo heads with coat hooks on it. Sure wish I knew where it was!


Wow...who knew?? I was born and raised in Santa Barbara in 1948. I am now 59, but have wonderful momories of Sambo's and their 10 cent cups of coffee with free refills. And strawberry pancakes...yummy!My mother was a waitress at the Santa Barbara location and knew Sam B. well. We later moved to Vegas when I was 13. She continued working at the Sambo's Lotus Inn, where I started working, summers when I was 13 for Oliver Dixon. I later worked at the one furthest out on the strip and the one on Bonanza location later on. IIf you were a good and fast waitress,and you worked at one, sometimes they would call and see if you would pick up a shift at one of the other stores, if someone called in sick. A very tight nit group:) I then started commuting as my mother before me to Palm Spring Sambos in Vegas off season. Each year they counted on you showing up:) I then married a cook, who trained in Yuba City Ca. for managment when they opened that store. We then had a Sambos in Fullerton Ca. and then we opened one of the first in the south... Shreveport La. We actually had to run a story in the local paper in a diplomatic way about Sam Battistone Jr. and who he was, because a rumor got around that Sammie Davis Jr. owned and know one would eat there. This was in 1971 as my son was born there. Can you believe, someone came in and asked my husband to join the KKK??. He politely refused, saying he couldn't possibly do that, as he had black cooks and dishwashers:) Ahhh yes, I have nothing but fond memories associated with youth and growing up. I haven't been to Santa Barbara for so long. I didn't even know that one was still open. Bet coffee's not a dime anymore. I would love to hear from anyone. My email is twoberners@aol.com! Stands for Bernese Mtn. Dogs..call them Berners.

Robert M. Stano

It was my greatest pleasure to have worked for and managed a Sambo's Restaurant.

I joined the Sambo's Management team in the late 70's and trained in Portland, Maine (Mgr. John Cooper) and Bangor, Maine. (Mgr. Phil Baer). My management training was in Cherry Hills, NJ.

I became Manager of a brand new million dollar Sambo's restaurant in Rockland, Mass), I was the first manager at this location and had the extreme pleasure of opening the doors for business at there.

Sambo's was the easiest and best restaurant to operate and I was proud of my staff that worked at that location.

I left Sambo's when they sold the chain to Motel 6, which I believe was owned by American Hardware at that time.

Motel 6 destroyed that chain and broke the backs of many good managers. It didn't take them long until they drove it into the ground and oblivion.

I still have my original Manager's handbooks and training manuals with restaurant diagrams. If anyone ever wanted to open a Sambo's style restaurant these books would show them the way to do it.

I would be happy in hearing from my old staff from the Rockland, Mass store or the training stores in Portland, Maine and Bangor, Maine.


Robert M. Stano
Former Manager of Rockland, Mass Sambo's

Barry Rhoads

Anyone who thinks Sambo's was forced out of business due to their name is WRONG! Sambo's went out of business due to poor managemnent, perhaps illegal management practices. When they were forced to change their managament compensation package that was the start of the end. I was a manager for Sambo's. AGAIN - the name Sambo's had NOTHING to do with the demise of the company!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


To help answer questions a few posed above:
There was a Sambo's on NASA Road (FM528) in Clear Lake City, Tx in the 70s. It later became a Red Lobster, and later something else.
There was a Sambo's on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Ca, which later became a Godfather Pizza (which was actually a tax write-off for another company).

Pirate Paul

Few ever thought anything racist when we all went to eat at Sambo's. It wasn't until the NAACP tried to force them to change the name, and finally put them out of business, that we knew anybody was in a snit.
It reminds me of the great place in Irving, right outside of Fort Worth, which had the chamber of commerce's underwear all bunched up because of its sign, "Big Nigger Barbecue." Trouble was, the owner was a big fat black guy, and he wasn't about to change the name. I think they drove him under too. Political correctness shall rule.


Oops, forgot this: send offers to me at: cager38@yahoo.com


I remember going to Sambos in Chico, Ca in the 1970's when we moved here. It was always fun, the food good, and my two children ages 9 and 5 always wanted to go back again to Sambos. The manager and the help were always friendly and spoke to the girls which thrilled them. I enjoyed this site very much. So, I have a "Sambo's Has It" coffee mug with red, white and blue markings with white stars (in good condition). Make me an offer and I will mail it to you for best offer plus postage.


I am holding onto a Sambo's menu dated 1977, from the buffalo,NY area. Reading through it makes me laugh...Four peices of deep fried chicken, fries,gravy and a veg. for only 2.95. The drink of coca cola is affordable at 40 cents a glass ! Any one interested in my treasure let me know.

Darlene Hutlman

I have a menu and a Sambos Tiger doll that I am going to sell. Would anybody be interested?

andrew grover

I, like many have very fond memories of Sambo's four of my older brothers and sisters worked at the restaurant in Elmira, New York. I wish I still had my Tigers I remember a Football Basketball and Baseball player? Any others?

Mark Burgess

I worked at the Sambo's on Speedway in Tucson in 1974 and 1975...a fellow named George (last name I think was Spencer) was the franchise holder.

Barry Rhoads

I went to work at Sambo's in Chino, CA in mid 1975. Forest "Woody" O'Neil was the manager. Amir Aghaloo (SP?) was the district manager. I started out as a cook and worked my way up to manager of a new store in Astoria OR which opened in june-July of 1978. Of course at that time the "fraction of the action" plan was gone. I was too in a short while because it wasnt worht the money anymore. Les, I forgot his last name was my district mgr up there.

One of my old neighbors in Chino was Ron Dillion, who I understnad was in management back east someplace.

What happened to sambo's was very sad! A lot of people got hurt financially.

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