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California Breakfast Spot Sambo’s Will Change Its Name Following Community Demands

The Santa Barbara restaurant was named after its founders Sam Battistone Sr. and Newell Bohnett, but proprietors also used racist imagery from “The Story of Little Black Sambo” for years

Restaurant sign spelling out “Sambo’s.”
The original restaurant in Santa Barbara, California.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Santa Barbara restaurant agrees to change racist name

Santa Barbara restaurant Sambo’s, the last remaining location of a breakfast chain dating back to 1957, is changing its name — a derogatory racial epithet used for Black and mixed-Black indigenous people — amid protests against police brutality and racism across the country, Today reports.

The restaurant’s founders, Sam Battistone Sr. and Newell Bohnett, originally derived the name by combining their nicknames “Sam” and “Bo.” But for decades, SFGate reports, “the walls of Sambo’s restaurants nationwide were adorned with painted imagery associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo, a children’s book written by Helen Bannerman in 1899 that became controversial for its depictions of racial stereotypes.”

After pressure from an online petition organized by Santa Barbara resident Rashelle Monet and signed by more than 3,800 people, the restaurant’s current owners, Chad and Michelle Stevens, agreed to change the name and directed employees to temporarily cover the sign with symbols for peace and love.

“These are challenging times so we had to step up to the plate,” Chad Stevens, grandson of Sam Battistone Sr., told Today. “We have had this brand for 65 years. I’m covering up as much of it as I can to show respect for Black Lives Matter and the challenges of the African American community.”

And in other news…

  • “It almost turns into a hostage situation”: Restaurateurs fear that delivery apps’— and their high fees — control on business during the pandemic will continue long after dine-in service resumes. [NYT]
  • Wendy’s says its beef shortage is almost over. [CNN]
  • Dunkin’ is looking to hire 25,000 new workers with the incentive of low-cost college degrees. [NRN]
  • Should UberEats customers be banned if they cancel orders? [Yahoo]
  • Burger King is advocating for onion breath as a social distancing measure with its new burger in Italy, with three times the normal amount of onions. [Brand Eating]
  • How World Central Kitchen makes hundreds of thousands of meals. [Heated]
  • Reimagining healthier, more sustainable food systems for a post-COVID world. [World Economic Forum]

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