A longtime San Francisco burger joint is preparing to double down on the neighborhood by bringing a new concept to North Beach.
Sam's Burgers, which opened in 1966 at 618 Broadway, is planning to open a Sam's East—just west of Sam's next door at 620 Broadway.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Sam’s owner Emad ElShawa told The Standard that the plan was to open an entirely new concept separate from Sam’s.
Sam’s East will be a full-service, fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant with a pita bar, falafel, ribeye, chicken sandwiches, and beer and wine. Its name will honor ElShawa’s father Mike, who used to run the kitchen for Keystone Korner, a North Beach jazz venue, before taking over management of Sam’s Burgers, which itself was named after Mike's uncle Sam.
A 12-month license was issued last Thursday for the new venue at 620 Broadway, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
That license was listed as pending, but a four-month temporary permit issued the same day went into effect Monday. The permit is listed as transferred from the former occupant, Tacorea, with conditions about active monitoring of noise and loitering, as well as sales restricted to waiter or waitress service to table-seated patrons.
“The opportunity came to us to take over the space next door,” said ElShawa, who added that he expected paperwork to be completed this week. “The owner of Tacorea said he didn’t want to be in the business anymore. Fortunately, the former restaurant’s infrastructure is still there. All it needs is paint and a little care.”
“It will represent all the qualities [my dad] embodied: treating everyone with dignity and respect, and being a part of this community,” ElShawa said Tuesday. “We want to continue to invest in this community and in this city.”
Sam's tradition of all-hours neighborhood service and tasty classic grilled and fried cuisine has drawn praise over the decades, but perhaps most notably during the San Francisco-focused 10th episode of Anthony Bourdain's two-season Travel Channel show "The Layover."
In it, Bourdain sampled a burger at Sam's before saying, "That's a good burger. Top three in the world!" A sign outside frames the quote for posterity.
George Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org