Independent restaurants

Dear Editor,As an independent restaurateur that has been serving Downey for over 50 years it is really sad to see a venue like Sambi of Tokyo getting ready to close. It really hits home. I dined there this week (as have so many I've been told) and remembered special evenings. Sitting at a Tappan table with strangers that ended up knowing someone that I knew etc…laughing and enjoying and feeling comfortable. I have memories of Sambi's as do so many of my friends and loyal patrons. In a fragile economy it gets more difficult to stay profitable as an independent business that has to compete with all the national chain restaurants that we have seen opening in the past few years. You know the ones that have deep pockets and identical floor plans, the ones that line you up at the door then herd you through. The ones that seem to challenge you to have a conversation because it is so loud. Those restaurants survive these times because of national marketing and strategic location planning. They are designed and created to a standard that works. The food is good, the service good and you can be in one and have been in them all. They lack the character that independent restaurants offer. The comfort, the smell, the staff that recognizes you and asks how you are, but really means it! It's fun when I can tell someone that their favorite table is ready for them and lead them to it and see the smile on their faces. Or know a certain party is coming in Friday night and have ready what they like to eat and drink. I have many customers that stay at the Embassy Suites from out of town that have given me a great deal of insight. They eat out a lot! It makes me so happy when they tell me that they love my restaurant because it's not a chain. It reminds them of a place back home. It doesn't have to be an Italian restaurant either. It just makes them feel special and good and think of being home. That is when I know all the work and sacrifices my family and myself have made are worth it. I want to thank everyone that has supported us and independent businesses like Sambi's for so long. I know my family cherishes each and everyone of you. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to lock up for the last time. -- Paul Granata, Owner, Granata's Italian Villa

********** Published: October 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 27