2015-03-01 CA, Santa Barbara. Sambo’s is a Restaurant with Beach Views.

After running around LA for a week with the truly crazy and inspiring Alan Miller, we parted ways as he left for London and I rented a car to drive back up along the Pacific Highway to Petaluma, where I’d established a temporary pre-production base.

My first night out of LA I stopped off in Santa Barbara to meet up with Carly, a girl who once gave me a book on a flight between Melbourne and Sydney. It was late and raining when I arrived. Apparently in never rains in Santa Barbara, but I was lucky enough to arrive on the only day it had rained for months. I was not as excited about this salient fact as the locals were. Carly met me at a cool downtown hipster bar where we drank until closing and I then headed for a hotel I’d found online.

The next day we met up for lunch at the unfortunately named ‘Sambo’s’ restaurant. I found it remarkable that such a place exists and was informed that it was the last remaining restaurant in a chain that had been founded in 1957 by Sam Battistone Jr and Newell Bohnet. They called it Sambo’s as a combination of their names but soon cashed in on the popularity of the ‘The Story Of Little Sambo’ by decorating the walls of the restaurants with scenes from the book, including a dark-skinned boy, tigers, and a pale, magical unicycle-riding man called “The Treefriend”.

By 1979, Sambo’s had 1,117 outlets in 47 American states. However, in the late 1970s, their racist strategy backfired as controversy over the chain’s name drew protests and lawsuits in communities that viewed the term as insulting and derogatory to African Americans. In late 1981 the company filed for bankruptcy and finally shuttered its doors in 1983.

I’m amazed this last remaining restaurant is still open.

Santa Barbara Beach, CA 2015-03-01

Santa Barbara Beach, CA 2015-03-01

Santa Barbara Beach, CA 2015-03-01

Santa Barbara Beach, CA 2015-03-01

Sambo's Cafe, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

Sambo’s Cafe, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

Andrzej (Andy) Liguz at Sambo's Cafe, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

Andrzej (Andy) Liguz at Sambo’s Cafe, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

Wayfarer Hotel, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

Wayfarer Hotel, Santa Barbara, CA 2015-03-01

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