Sunday, August 31, 2014


Thinking about Nickerson Farms the other day started me off thinking of all the favorite restaurants we found on our many travels while I was growing up.  Sambo's was most definitely at the top of my list of all-time favorites. 

Sambo’s was a restaurant started in 1957 by Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett. who commonly were referred to as Sam and Bo. 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, Sr. and Bohnett capitalized on the coincidence 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 the early 1960s, the illustrations depicted a light-skinned boy wearing a jeweled Indian-style turban with the tigers.  That makes perfect sense to me since tigers are found in India, certain nowhere in Africa.

By 1979, Sambo's had 1,117 outlets in 47 American states. However, in the late 1970s, controversy over the chain's name drew protests and lawsuits in communities that viewed Sambo as a derogatory term against African-Americans.  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.


Today all but the original Sambo's at 216 West Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, California, have closed their doors.  Several locations were sold to Denny's.  Battistone's grandson, restaurateur Chad Stevens, owns the only remaining Sambo's.

I’m sure allo of the steaks sandwiches and other foods at Sambo’s was delicious, but the only thing I ever ordered there was the BEST buttery pancakes I ever put in my mouth.  I would order the Short Stack or more usually the wonderful Silver Dollar Pancakes, always dripping in (like Nickerson Farms) that spectacular Honey Butter!

The Mama Mumbo Special is still on the menu (two fresh ranch eggs any style and four “delicious” Sambo’s pancakes). So is the Papa Jumbo Special (bacon, ham, or sausage; two eggs any style; three “delicious” Sambo’s pancakes).

If you loved Sambo’s, TRY THIS RECIPE!!!

Sambo's Pancakes

2 eggs, separated (whites in a clean copper, stainless steel or glass bowl [DO NOT USE A PLASTIC BOWL, NO MATTER HOW CLEAN YOU THINK IT IS!], yolks in an 8-cup mixing bowl with a handle)

2 tablespoons sugar

16 ounces biscuit and baking mix (about 3 loosely spooned cups)

2 cups milk (any fat content; we use 2/3 cup of nonfat dry milk and 2 cups of water)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat electric griddle or electric skillet to 375 degrees or heat a heavy skillet over medium heat while mixing batter.

Beat egg whites with a hand mixer on high speed to stiff peaks and set aside. Cream sugar and egg yolks at high speed until lemony colored (about a minute). Add milk and beat 2 more minutes on high. Add biscuit mix and vanilla extract, mix on low speed until just blended (barley-sized lumps of mix are OK). Scrape beaten egg whites into batter and gently whisk in with the mixer switched off. Let stand 5 minutes.

Pour onto heated griddle or skillet, cook about 3 minutes before turning. Cook 1 to 2 minutes on second side. Serve with real butter and hot syrup.


  1. I LOVED "Sambo's" as good as any restaurant that I ever ate at----Nickerson Farms and Sambo's hold my best memories and sadly, both are gone. It indeed has left a void that no restaurant could replace. Without doubt, Sambo's had THE best pancakes that I ever ate---ANYWHERE!! Nothing compared. I loved everything about it---the tigers on the walls and I used to have a little tiger that I bought there. I wish that I still had it! My favorite one was in Farmington, New Mexico---I still pass it when we go to Farmington but it is, of course, a different restaurant now. Thank you for these wonderful memories---we would get so excited when we saw a "Sambo's" I wish we could go back in time and have those silver dollar pancakes one more time. Since that is impossible, I will make your recipe!! THANK YOU!

    1. I totally agree. Miss the silver dollar pankakes

  2. Sadly, you can't eat dinner at the original Sambo's. It's only open for breakfast and lunch. But it is open.

  3. there is still a Sambo's in Lincoln City Oregon. I don't know if it is or was affiliated with this chain, but their pancakes are far and away the best i've ever had... so i'm going to try this recipe.

  4. There was a Sambo in Waynesboro Va when I was young, I talk about it a lot. It was part of my youth

  5. I used to work at the Sambo's in North Syracuse, NY and then when the name changed to No Place Like Sam's (because of the name).....It didn't do any better with the new name, and I was there when the bosses came in about 4am and said, get your customers fed and out the door as we are locking the doors! We knew it was coming as the prior Thursday the truck didn't come in. So our boss told us no matter what time it happens, plz call me at home when we're closing for good. I had to make that phone call...Wasnt easy. I loved working there too.