Sambo's original restaurant
By kjfitz @ 2009-05-20 09:59:46
Sambo's is a restaurant, formerly an American restaurant chain, started in 1957 by Sam Battistone and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo. Battistone and Bohnett capitalized on the coincidence by decorating the walls of the restaurants with scenes from the book, including a dark-skinned boy and tigers. By the early 1970s, the illustrations depicted a light-skinned boy wearing a jeweled Indian-style turban with the tigers. A kids club, Sambo's Tiger Tamers (later called the Tiger Club), promoted the chain's family image.
By 1979, Sambo's had 1,200 outlets in 47 US states. However in the late seventies controversy over the chain's name drew protests and lawsuits in communities that viewed the term Sambo as a pejorative towards African-Americans, particularly in Northeast states. Several of the restaurants were opened as or renamed to "The Jolly Tiger" in locations where the local community passed resolutions forbidding the use of the original name or refused to grant the chain permits. In March 1981, in a further attempt to give the chain a new image the company again renamed some locations, this time to "No Place Like Sam's". By November 1981, the company filed for bankruptcy. Neither the name change nor bankruptcy protection reversed the downward trend, and in 1982 all but the original Sambo's at 216 West Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, California, closed their doors.