'Sambo's' in Santa Barbara to Change Restaurant's Name Amid Protests

Sambo's in 2005

The last remaining Sambo's in the United States announced last week it would change its name following nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

In a post to the restaurant's Facebook page last week, the owners, Chad and Michelle Stevens, said they were changing the name from the racist-term for Black people, to another name that has not yet been determined.

"We are changing the name of our restaurant, what the future name will be is still uncertain, however it will not be Sambo’s," the owners wrote in the post. "Our family has looked into our hearts and realize that we must be sensitive when others whom we respect make a strong appeal. So today we stand in solidarity with those seeking change and doing our part as best we can."

The owners say the original sign will be blocked out "with a message of peace and love as soon as possible...."

The Santa Barbara restaurant is the last location of a one-time national chain of pancake houses located across the United States.

Chad and Michelle inherited the restaurant from Chad's grandfather, Sam Battistone, and his partner, Newell Bohnett, who founded the restaurant chain more than 60 years ago. The pair claimed the name of the restaurant 'Sambo's' came from combining their two last names - Battistone and Bohnett, the Santa Barbara Independent reported.

However, the first seven locations of the new pancake house was known to carry racist depictions of "the adventures of Little Black Sambo" in its restaurants. After years of fighting multiple lawsuits filed against the one-time national chain, the business went bankrupt in 1981, with most of the restaurants closing, with the last one operating in Santa Barbara.

For now, the restaurant has covered up the old name with a new "Peace & Love" sign.

"Also please know we do not tolerate racism or violence. We are committed to being part of a long-term solution. And we ask our customers and neighbors to join us in that pledge," the owners added.

Photo: Wikimedia

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