Support for restaurants

Dear Editor:I recently learned, with great disappointment, that Sambi of Tokyo, a fixture in Downey for over three decades, will be closing its doors for the final time on Oct. 24. Although the restaurant has not recently enjoyed the success it once did, it was the site of countless first dates, birthday/anniversary celebrations, and New Year's Eve countdowns. Love it or hate it, the restaurant was the birthplace of many happy memories. The closure of Sambi's is no doubt due to a number of factors. The restaurant blames the poor economy, while many of its long-time customers could also cite changes in service and entertainment, along with a failure to keep the menu exciting enough for today's restaurant-goer. One thing, however, is clear -- to many, Sambi's represents the last of Downey's "special occasion" restaurants. In less than two weeks, Sambi of Tokyo will join the unfortunate list which includes names such as The Regency, Raffles and Marmac's, among others. Our city's Economic Development Division has enjoyed many successes in the last few years, and it's my hope they can assist in ensuring the closure of Sambi's is temporary and that the building can soon reemerge as another successful restaurant. Whether the physical plant becomes part of the Benihana chain or is independently operated, it deserves to be kept as the beautiful Asian restaurant it is, providing variety and dining excitement for the local community. Properly managed, the location can again enjoy its earlier successes. A local event that might benefit the rest of the local restaurant community is, unfortunately, not getting the attention it needs. In recent years, the "Dine in Downey" program consisted of offering a meager 10 percent discount to those visiting local restaurants, hardly an excitement generator. This year's replacement, the "Taste of Downey", scheduled for Nov. 18, could be worthwhile, if it wasn't one of the town's best kept secrets. First of all, the event's website isn't even operational yet. In addition, "Taste of Downey" is currently scheduled to be held in front of City Hall; hopefully, there's still time to move this event to a more viable location, such as the plaza area next to the Downey Theatre. Better yet, this might be a great opportunity to close a couple blocks of Downey Avenue for a San Luis Obispo Farmers' Market-style evening. There are still some great restaurants in Downey, and they do deserve our support. -- Mark Echmalian Downey

********** Published: October 14, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 26