Vintage Photo Collection

Available for the first time, we present a vintage collection of architectural photographs of more than 100 of the original Sambo’s Restaurant buildings. This is a first time offer of these rare color images.

Architectural Americana

These exquisite architectural photographs were taken between 1964 and 1970. Color exterior elevations and interior views of the bright decor depict a bygone era of Sambo’s unique restaurant design. Color images are available in 8×10 up to 16×20!

Original Prints

How many of us enjoyed those mouth-watering pancakes, with tiger butter or with bacon and eggs, and those other favorites like steak, chicken and burgers? Relive those nostalgic days with these original prints from this exclusive photographic collection.

Select Your Favorite Sambo’s Location

The Sambo’s Story

ONCE UPON A TIME, not so very long ago, two enterprising gentlemen named Sam Battistone and F. Newell Bohnett decided to combine their talent and experience in order to develop a profitable restaurant business with unlimited potential. This led to 113 restaurants around the country.

Sambo’s success triggered other Santa Barbara start-ups such as UNCLE JOHNS PANCAKE HOUSE and CARROWS RESTAURANTS, which then joined the ranks of national chains such as: INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES (IHOP) and DENNY’S RESTAURANTS.

Tim Putz
Sambo’s Photos photographer

Vintage Photo Slideshow

About Tim

I grew up in Santa Barbara and attended local schools. My father gave me one of his old cameras when I was in 7th grade and that started my photographic career. I photographed for both the junior high and high school newspapers and yearbooks. After high school I attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. During that time I freelanced and it was in 1965 or 1966 that I had a chance meeting with Sam Battistone, Jr., whom I had known since 1957.

At this time there were only about 20 restaurants in the chain. They had never had any professional photographs taken of the buildings. Each location had a different design at that time. They wanted a record of the locations and to show prospective landlords the existing buildings. At that time, the only restaurants were in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington.

About Sambo’s and Tim

By the mid 60’s I had established my own photography studio in Santa Barbara and Sambo’s became one of my major accounts. I started photographing all new locations as they opened. The night before the restaurant’s official opening, there was a party held for the local business people, chamber of commerce member and local V.I.P’s. There was an open bar and a very lavish buffet for several hundred attendees. Here the new manager/owner introduced himself to the local township, and usually the two founders, Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett were in attendance.

When I first started the project, I photographed the restaurants in California and Arizona, traveling through Northern California and down the central valley of California. Later I did longer road trips to Washington and Oregon. I planned my trip so that I would be in each city for one night. The days were spent on the road. I photographed the exteriors in the evening or early morning, so that I could get the light of either a setting sun or a sunrise. Most of the interiors were done in the early morning hours, usually between 4-5 am. In this way, there were very few or no customers in the photos. (Most of the Sambo’s were open 24 hours).