SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The original Sambo's restaurant is celebrating its 60th year with a flashback on pancake prices.
Owner Chad Stevens says he will start the party Tuesday and it ends Saturday afternoon. All pancake stacks will only be 60 cents. He's encouraged customers to smother the serving with butter and syrup. He likes his with strawberries or blueberries too.
The restaurant brings out many stories from customers. They tell Chad and the servers, "I met my wife, I met my husband, I had kids that came here, I grew up here, the stories go on and on."
Stevens recalls his grandfather Newell Bohnett partnered with Sam Battistone and they combined a piece of their names. That created the restaurant name Sambo's. Stevens says the family still has deep ties. His 18 year old son even takes some serving shifts.
"Pancakes is what makes Sambo's great. I love pancakes," said Stevens. At 60 cents a stack he expects to see a lot of customers. "I don't think we're gonna make any money on this but we are going to have a lot of fun," he says.
He says the iconic building has the same design as when it opened on June 17, 1957.
It seats about 100 customers, mostly inside. Outside there is a beach front area looking out towards the Santa Barbara harbor and the landmark Stearns Wharf.
At one point Sambo's was a nationwide chain with 1117 restaurants in 47 states. After some tough business years, everything was eventually sold off but the one remaining restaurant in Santa Barbara. It make Stevens smile just saying the name and telling the stories.
At the front counter there are still many promotional items, including t-shirts, frisbees, and "spinners" that customers pick up as a souvenir on the way out. Seemingly outdated wooden coins offering customers a 10 cent cup of coffee are honored as if they were handed out today.
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