Solana Beach community mourns closing of Sam’s Place

By Claire Harlin

Sam’s Place, a Greek food institution for 34 years, has shut its doors, and although the reason for closure is unclear among locals, one thing is certain according to area residents — an integral part of the Solana Beach community will be sorely missed.

Restaurant owner Sam Peltekian was known not only for his gyros, shish kabobs and Greek salads, but his love of music, his undying work ethic and his engaging, witty commentary — delivered in six different languages.

According to regulars, Peltekian worked seven days a week, sometimes 14 to 18 hours a day, at the eatery, located at 141 Lomas Santa Fe Dr. A variety of theories have been offered as to why Sam’s Place closed, but Peltekian and members of his family did not return calls and emails by presstime for this newspaper.

“This pillar of the community and his restaurant where everybody was a regular will be greatly missed,” regular Jim McCullum said.

Regular Amy Moser described Sam’s Place as “the Solana Beach version of ‘Cheers,’ where everyone from disparate parts of San Diego including neighbors, sheriffs and local dignitaries could walk or drive to.”

“When you wanted to know what was going on in Solana Beach or the Middle East, Sam was the go-to person. When you needed a place to stage a birthday party, engagement party, retirement party, meeting place for non-profits, Sam would make sure that you were welcome and feted,” said Moser. “Whole families have grown up at Sam’s from childhood and come back whenever they’re back in town.”

She said there is nowhere else that measures up to Sam’s Place.

“I feel like we’re roaming the desert now with no place to go,” she said.