Sambo’s Lake Tahoe, 1967
Beaming with joy, three customers bask in the glory of orange, yellow, blue and white vinyl, wood paneling, hanging lamps, slanted striped ceiling and plate glass. Even they are color coordinated. By any creative design standards the interior decor scheme is as playful and colorful as a space-age fantasy toy box.
The most detailed work in the modern day dining hall is the amazing above-the-counter art depicting the coffee shop’s namesake, the legendary story of Little Black Sambo published in 1899. Strange by any children’s book standards, the tale is that of a turban wearing Indian boy named Sambo who loses his clothes to some browbeating tigers. They wind up chasing each other around until the tigers melt into hotcakes and butter, which Sambo then eats
In 1957 two guys in Santa Barbara, “Sam” and “Bo” blended their abbreviated names and matched the title character in the book that inspired the boy-tiger-pancake theme for what was destined to become less than a decade later a coffee shop empire. “Famous” pancakes with lots of butter and syrup is the specialty of the kitchen. A decade later, in 1967, the original Sambos had spawned restaurants spanning nearly coast to coast with more than 1200 restaurants
Today just one Sambos restaurant survives — the original overlooking the picturesque bay in Santa Barbara
Cheers to Sambo’s and YOU!!