There's been a lot of talk lately about the wonderful restaurant chain called "Sambo's" -- which is, sad to say, no longer a chain. Where it once had 1200 stores in 47 states, it now consists of a single link -- in Santa Barbara, California.
There are lots of reasons why the restaurant went out of business, but that really doesn't matter.
What does matter is the fond memories many people seem to have of this unique place -- memories which I am fortunate enough to share.
I remember visiting our local Sambo's when I was a wee lad in the 1960s. I also remember stopping, when we traveled, at the various Sambo's along the way. This was in the days before the exact same fast food restaurants were perched on every single exit of every single freeway from sea to shining sea.
If you did not find a Sambo's, or maybe a Howard Johnson's (one of the few country-wide restaurant chains at the time) you would eat at a local diner, a little "mom and pop" place with four tables and mismatched chairs. (I have vague memories of those places, too. Including one where the nice old lady [probably only 50] gave me an extra piece of cherry pie because I was, as she so accurately noted, "A handsome little boy." I remember that like it was yesterday.)
But I also remember Sambo's. I remember the little stuffed tiger (like the one pictured) and the rubber baby tiger that (I think) came out later, I had an entire set of the post cards, and few other bits and pieces I only vaguely remember.
I actually still remember when my father bought me my stuffed tiger, at one of the Sambo's in California (where we spent almost every vacation). I was probably only six or seven, but I remember when we got into the car after eating, and it was so dark, and so late, and I fell asleep holding that little tiger that I loved so much.
More on the history of Sambo's.
You will find the web site to the original Santa Barbara store -- which opened in 1957 -- here.