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1966 Sambo's Coffee Shop, Boise, Idaho

Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:47 pm
by roadsidepictures
Name: Tepanyaki Steak House (formerly Sambo's)
Year: 1966

Street: 2197 N Garden St
City: Boise
State: ID
Zip: 83706
Country: USA

Type: Coffee Shop
Style: Googie
Status: possibly endangered



Mid-century buildings take stage at symposium


You probably wouldn't demolish a Victorian home. But what about the odd-looking, yet still classic, Tepanyaki Steak House?

"The Tepanyaki Steak House at the corner of Garden and Main - originally a Sambo's Restaurant built in 1966 - could be a crusty diamond in need of polish.

Or maybe it is a carbuncle on the landscape that wouldn't be missed.

Either way, it is historic.

Googie Style (and that's no typo) with undulating roofs, boomerang sides and eye-grabbing signs, was popular for roadside eateries in the '50s and '60s.

"I don't know if it's a treasure, and it isn't my place to say," says Dan Everhart, an architectural historian with the Idaho Transportation Department who is organizing a three-day symposium on mid-century design in Boise next week.

"My job is to tell people this is called the Googie Style of architecture, and this is the only one in Boise," he said. "If we tear it down, we demolish 100 percent of the Googie architecture in the Valley. Maybe we tear it down anyway, at least we do it with our eyes open."

Other Boise sites from the post-war era have been altered or demolished - like the Moxie Java flying-saucer building at Vista and Kootenai and South Junior High - and Everhart says little study of architecture from the booming post-war period has been published.

But public agencies like ITD are required to consider the historic significance of all sites when approving a construction project, and they are struggling to understand the styles, materials and trends that defined the mid-century era, from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.

"Important buildings have already been lost or compromised, and as growth continues, others will be lost before we have the chance to evaluate them if we don't start soon," Everhart said.

The predominant style of the era is marked by a lack of embellishment, and the use of strong vertical and horizontal lines. (Some may call it boxy.)

"Mid-century architecture takes a less dramatic presence from the street and is designed with strict functionality in mind," said Everhart.

He points out the ITD building, designed by Boise architect Charles Hummel in 1966. Using new materials and techniques, Hummel created one of the area's first curtain walls, which suspends glass and steel panels on a concrete and steel skeleton.

To remedy the lack of information, the ITD and Preservation Idaho are hosting Modernism in the Northwest. The event will include lectures on identifying mid-century styles and interior design of the era. Everhart will lead a three-hour bus tour of mid-century architecture in Boise, and a cocktail party at a classic modern home in the Foothills will benefit Preservation Idaho.

"Our goal is to provide enough information for people to identify these styles in Boise or Winnemucca or anywhere else they occur, so communities and policy makers can make informed decisions," he said.

Similar mistakes were made in the 1960s, he says. Strip malls were going up on every corner.

"There were so many Queen Anne Victorian buildings and they were so passe that they couldn't knock them down fast enough," Everhart said.

Fifty years later, the idea of demolishing a Victorian home is shocking, but the idea of knocking down a strip mall is less so.

"As more and more mid-century architecture is lost, people will realize its value - hopefully, before the wholesale demolition. But there is always some blood-letting," Everhart said. "I suspect in the next 20 years, a third or more of these buildings will be drastically altered or destroyed.""

Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:37 pm
by Joe
armet & davis

Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:56 pm
by roadsidepictures
Thank, Joe! I wasn't sure if it was one of theirs.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:42 am
by Gnomus
The side of the building, that broken roofline, looks like a Denny's (also Armet and Davis). Was that feature typical of Sambo's also?

There's a restaurant on Ventura Blvd in Studio City called Twain's that has that roofline, and I've been trying to figure out what it started out as.

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:25 am
by deanna b
Here's a somewhat similar ex-Sambo's in San Diego, only with twice as many zig-zags, right across from the Old Town train station.


ETA: I'm pretty sure Twains used to be a Tiny Naylor's. Whether it was anything before that, I don't know. And I'm pretty sure Harry's Coffee Shop in Burbank (across from IHOP) used to be a Sambo's, but with the awnings it's hard to see the original roofline, but IIRC it also has a boomerang roof.

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:37 am
by Gnomus
Deanna, Twain's is at 12905 Ventura Blvd at Coldwater Canyon, while from what I found online, Tiny Naylor's used to be at 12056 Ventura Blvd at Laurel Canyon.

I checked Googie Redux, but didn't find Twain's in the index. And Googling the name and/or address just seems to summon up countless "rate this restaurant" sites...

Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:05 pm
by nichols
Joe, I've gone through the Armet & Davis job files many times and can't remember ever seeing that Sambo's was a client of theirs. Do you have any further information?

Good discussion on this a few years ago, disappointing the pictures are all gone.

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:24 pm
by Joe
I thought I saw it on that Armet & Davis site... now that I look, I don't see it. Hmmm. Maybe not. I thought I saw a reference recently. Maybe Hess knows?

Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:29 am
by nichols
Boise, ID

The original photographer Tim Putz is selling prints online! WOW

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:13 pm
by Kimba

Oh my gosh! In 1975, I used to work at the FairVu Drive In in Boise. After work, we often went to this Sambo's and drank coffee and ate french fries! We COVERED them in catsup! LOL

Talk about a blast from the past! I haven't thought of this in decades!

Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 5:45 pm
by CWillman
Kimba wrote:*THUD*

Oh my gosh! In 1975, I used to work at the FairVu Drive In in Boise. After work, we often went to this Sambo's and drank coffee and ate french fries! We COVERED them in catsup! LOL

Talk about a blast from the past! I haven't thought of this in decades!

As a former Boisean, I miss the FairVu Drive-in, too... and this Sambo's!

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:36 pm
by roadsidepictures
Cool! Is the FairVu Drive-in still standing?

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:11 pm
by CWillman
roadsidepictures wrote:Cool! Is the FairVu Drive-in still standing?

No, the FairVu Drive-in was torn down in 1995. (I believe it was for a development that fell through, and the land stayed vacant for a while... surprise.) The nearest remaining drive-ins are about 45 minutes from Boise, but a lot of Boiseans make the trip out there. There's an excellent one called the Parma Motor-Vu near the Oregon border, and they even advertise in the Boise paper.

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:15 pm
by roadsidepictures
Ha! I was thinking it was a drive-in restaurant. I drove by the Motor-Vu in Parma a couple of months ago, but it was was raining so I couldn't shoot pictures.