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Tiki Central Forums Beyond Tiki Urban Archeology: Sambo's Restaurants (WARNING: Image heavy about 4.5 megs)
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Urban Archeology: Sambo's Restaurants (WARNING: Image heavy about 4.5 megs)
Tangaroa
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Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1562
Posted: 2004-12-07 4:55 pm   Permalink

Hi all - I've been meaning to post this one for a while - finally got around to it!

As some of you know, I collect memorablia from the long-gone Sambo's Restaurants. I started to notice that some of the best postcards were all shot at night by a photographer named Tim Putz. Long story short - I thought he might still be around, and I tracked him down! Not only did he photograph every Sambo's in the 1960s for the company - he still has all his negatives. I asked him if we could meet up, so I could see what he still had (and maybe talk him into making a few copies for me)!

He suggested meeting at the original (and last remaining) Sambo's in Santa Barbara for lunch - so a few weeks ago I put Devon in the car seat & drove on up! I'm glad I did...

Here are some photos, and a litle Sambo's history to go along with it... (NOTE: Some of the photos are mine, some are taken by myself from the walls of the Santa Barbara Sambo's & Photoshopped, and some are the property of Tim Putz. These last ones are marked with a copyright - so please don't use them without permission.)

I used to have breakfast at this Sambo's in Anaheim in the 70s before we'd go to Disneyland for the day. I believe the reason I'm so obsessed right now is that I saved nothing from these visits. This one was located at the corner of West & Katella...



We met Mr. Putz for lunch, and he brought along his volumes of proof sheets for me to look at. It was more than a little overwhelming - having been used to finding postcards once in a while, now I was going through 100s of interior & exterior photos!



In 1957, Sam Battistone & Newell Bohnett bought this failing cafe & renamed it "Sambo's" (Sam + Bo = Sambo, get it?) - they sold hotcakes, coffee - standard coffee shop fare, etc. And it took off!



Although they became known for their modern-60s designs, Sambo's Santa Barbara took on an almost Asian look with these exterior lamps. Circa 1965.



Today in 2004.



Here's co-founder Sam Battistone behind the grill, cooking up pancakes no doubt... Circa 1960.



The chain once numbered 1,200 units coast-to-coast, but this one was the first. Quickly, they picked on the idea to theme their restaurant to the "Little Black Sambo" book by Helen Bannerman, complete with an African boy stereotype. In the background you can see the original Bannerman-influenced illustrations, that would in turn become the little Indian boy illustrations most collectors are more familiar with...



Here's a circa 1960 shot of the interior - check out that great tile pattern on the floor...



Circa 1965. The heyday of those great Indian boy/Tiger designs.



Today in 2004.



Tim also did product photography for Sambo's. Check out this Instant Pancake Mix & Sambo's Syrup you could buy at the restaurants, or your corner grocery store. If anyone out there has this packaging for sale - please contact me!



I love these little characters!



Here's Sam Battistone & Newell Bohnett at the ribbon cutting ceremony for an San Diego Sambo's (the lady's sash says "Yellowtail Derby") - most likely early 60s.



Here are a few examples of how nice Tim's photography is, and how stunning some of these restaurants were....

Biscayne, Florida.



Coral Gables, Florida.



Sacramento-Folsom, California.



Miami Beach, Florida. Notice the Denny's inspired signage on this one.



Finally, for all you So Cal tikicentralites - here's the Sambo's that became La Casita - Mexican Restaurant attached to Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs, formerly the Tropics Motel.



Today in 2004.



A close-up reveals a lone tiki, standing guard out front.



Great logo for the adjoining Congo Room on the facade.



Today, 2004.



Interior - notice the use of "congo-esque" poles on the right.



I don't have a corresponding interior shot - but this one gives a sense of who different it looks with darker colors, although the layout remains the same.



So - when you all are eating there at next years Oasis - take a moment to remember poor old Sambo's!









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sinner
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 127
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2004-12-07 5:41 pm   Permalink

Awesome work Tangaroa. I'm going to be at the Caliente Tropics this weekend, and you've inspired me to take a closer look.
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Tangaroa
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Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1562
Posted: 2004-12-13 6:27 pm   Permalink

So - I took the family to Disneyland for the holidays this last Friday, and I made the extra effort to eat at the former Sambo's on Katella & West that I used to eat at as a kid.

Here's what you get now folks - and it's sad sad sad.

The original Sambo's on Katella & West.


Here it is today - it's now a Coco's.


It looks to be an all too common theme (or lack therof) - pink and or beige stucco, with unecessary additions like that upstairs area, which probably isn't even functional.

Here's the interior from the 1960s, with those wonderful back-lit panels.


Today in 2004.


Feels like design from 1989, doesn't it?

Here's a great photo taken by 'Synthetrix' on West street, shortly before it's demise in 1980. (By the way - do yourself a favor & check out his website
http://www.synthetrix.com - be sure to check out 'Photos Of The Forgotten' & 'Anaheim - Growing up in the shadow of Disneyland' unbelievably great photos & information)


Here's my lame attempt to take the same shot in full sunlight.


Oh well, here's Stovall's wonderful 'Topiary Gardens' which bordered Sambo's & ran down West Street (now Disney Drive or some such nonsense).



I love those rock walls - nothing says 60s to me like those.

Stovall's Inn Of Tomorrow (now just Stovall's Inn) has a few sad topiaries just to tease us of what once was...


Here's Stovall's Inn Of Tomorrow in all it's 1960's glory (read more about the various 60s/space age themed hotels here: http://65.254.59.194/%7Evstapf/SAM/sa1.htm )


But, as you can see - it has aged well, like a fine wine...


The 'Topiary Gardens' (which I'm sure were inspired by the topiaries outside 'It's A Small World') ran behind the pool area and down West Street...


Let's walk down West Street...


Here's the pool area in the 60s - compare this with the Geodesic "Moon House" at Stovall's Space Age Hotel - http://65.254.59.194/%7Evstapf/SAM/sa3.htm )


Not too dissimilar today.


Lastly - here's the God-like lobby of the Inn Of Tomorrow during it's heyday:


And here it is today...


Here's to the future folks!






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[ This Message was edited by: Tangaroa on 2004-12-13 18:37 ]


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TIKIBOSKO
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Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 331
Posted: 2004-12-13 6:38 pm   Permalink

Aloha Tongaroa

This is/has been a very satisfying post, as is obvious our generation's future has been sold out.

Mahalo
Bosko

[ This Message was edited by: TIKIBOSKO on 2004-12-13 18:45 ]


 
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Tangaroa
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Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1562
Posted: 2004-12-13 6:51 pm   Permalink

Thanks Bosko - I couldn't agree more...

The 'Disney-fication' (yes yes, I know you guys know I love Disney - but vintage Disney) of Katella, Harbor and the surrounding areas of Anaheim that used to be Googie heaven, were destroyed at the urging of the same gang that brought you Disney's California Adventure.

It looks so much better now, doesn't it?
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The Sperm Whale
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Joined: Aug 23, 2004
Posts: 1553
From: Lakewood California
Posted: 2004-12-13 11:33 pm   Permalink

Thanks Tang-
I love looking at all of those old Photo's. I too used to eat at Sambo's with my parents when I was a kid. I loved that place!!! I wish I had a Time Machine!!!
Later,
Spermy


 
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Tiki-bot
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Joined: Jun 24, 2002
Posts: 1345
Posted: 2004-12-14 10:41 am   Permalink

Great pics, T! I remember eating at the Sambo's that I think was on Beach Blvd near Garden Grove Blvd. Am I recalling correctly? I remember it had one of those 60s see-thru block walls on the outside that we would climb on.
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Tangaroa
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Posts: 1562
Posted: 2004-12-14 11:10 am   Permalink

Yeah - there was on on Beach Blvd., so Garden Grove is possible. I have an employee handbook at home with addresses of all the locations, so I'll check. Wish I had a picture of it - Tim Putz may. I'm trying to talk him into sending me copies of his proof sheets, just so I have some kind of record as to what he documented.
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ZuluMagoo
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Joined: Jun 26, 2002
Posts: 483
From: Denver, CO
Posted: 2004-12-14 1:28 pm   Permalink

Tangaroa - Great find and great post! Looks like the making of a Sambo's book could be in the future, right after you finish (start?) your Knott's book.

[ This Message was edited by: ZuluMagoo on 2004-12-14 13:29 ]


 
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Gigantalope
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Joined: Aug 01, 2004
Posts: 913
From: Shinola, California
Posted: 2004-12-14 11:04 pm   Permalink

Great post...great memories. I begged my folks to let us stay at "Stovalls" but since we live close...it was a silly thought to them.

What a splendid treat.
Thanks so very much.

[ This Message was edited by: Gigantalope on 2004-12-14 23:06 ]


 
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Benzart
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Joined: Jan 09, 2004
Posts: 10396
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Posted: 2004-12-15 06:00 am   Permalink

Great post and pictures.
Growing up (if I did at all) through my teens, we had a Sambo's about 3 short blocks from my house until they were forced to close in the 60's. Best breakfast in town. Brings back many fond memories and some not so fond. Thanks
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tiki1963
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Joined: Sep 12, 2003
Posts: 217
From: los angeles
Posted: 2004-12-16 01:25 am   Permalink



hey chris!

wow! our karma has been paying off! that story is great...really amazing pics. especially the miami one! that was the Sambo's i went to as a kid. i still have a coloring book or two from the Sambos club.

i don't have too much else collection-wise other than the wall/coat rack seen above. it must have been from an entry corridor as it's marked "left". have no idea which Sambo's it came from though.

one of the cool things about it, is that its made of wood...hand-silkscreened on wood. if you think about it, you realize how "plasticky" the resturant chain world has become since the days of Sambos. Signage and logo decor was pretty much hand made then. now, most chain related decor is mass produced. can you think of anything today for chains that is as hand crafted as your light panels?

Sambos rocks the casbah!

GREAT WORK, MAN!


 
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Hakalugi
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Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 3412
From: Redondo Beach, CA
Posted: 2004-12-16 01:49 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2004-12-15 06:00, Benzart wrote:
Best breakfast in town. Brings back many fond memories and some not so fond. Thanks




"not so fond"??

If you're not referring to them having to close, it sounds like there might be a curious story here. Care to divulge?

[ This Message was edited by: Hakalugi on 2004-12-16 01:51 ]


 
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Tangaroa
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Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1562
Posted: 2004-12-16 12:55 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2004-12-16 01:25, tiki1963 wrote:


i don't have too much else collection-wise other than the wall/coat rack seen above. it must have been from an entry corridor as it's marked "left". have no idea which Sambo's it came from though.
....one of the cool things about it, is that its made of wood...hand-silkscreened on wood. if you think about it, you realize how "plasticky" the resturant chain world has become since the days of Sambos. Signage and logo decor was pretty much hand made then. now, most chain related decor is mass produced. can you think of anything today for chains that is as hand crafted as your light panels?




Exactly - that's why you & I are nuts for vintage signage, I think. Today it's so easy & cheap for someone to fart something out in Illustrator or Photoshop & print it up on a vinyl sticker, attached to a plastic, or worse - foamcore backing.

It's a lost art - most of these sign painters went to school just to learn lettering. All those great fonts House puts out? These guys did them by hand!

I think I'll start a new thread on this one...


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virani
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Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2004-12-16 1:14 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the story, I love those before/now pictures.
Great work


 
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