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Effort to save Burlingame's Sam's Italian Sandwich Co. nearing goal
April 03, 2013, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal

Sam's Italian Sandwich Co. More than 80 donors have contributed to help keep Burlingame's Sam's Sandwiches open.

More than $7,500 has been donated toward the effort to help Sam's Italian Sandwich Co. in Burlingame stay open after about two weeks of fundraising.

Costs for improving the site it's called home since 2005, at 1080 Howard Ave., coupled with chain stores moving to the area have created a challenging environment for the locally-owned shop. In March, an online effort to help the mom-and-pop shop was launched with the goal of raising $10,000. The money will help get owners Rino Betti and June Williams ahead of the curve.

"It's truly incredible," said Betti. "I am blessed knowing that so many people from the community have donated. I guess little old Sam's Sandwiches made a difference to a lot of people over the years."

So far, more than 80 individual donors have contributed to the cause, said former councilman Russ Cohen, who is co-chairing the effort with Councilwoman Cathy Baylock.

Donors represent six states, "proving that Sam's has touched the lives of people from Burlingame and beyond," said Baylock.

Both said the goal is in sight.

The city of Burlingame has also offered support. Last month, the City Council altered its lease with Sam's to help keep the beloved shop open. The proposal lowers the monthly rent to $1,700 per month for an annual reduction in rent of $6,563.52. It also calls for the city to use the $4,000 security deposit to pay delinquent rent and allow the tenant to pay $100 installments toward a new deposit of $2,000, according to the contract.

Sam's Italian Sandwich Company, originally located at 297 California Drive in Burlingame, opened in 1972. The idea was inspired by a deli called Freddie's in San Francisco's North Beach. At 22, along with his friend Rich Vento, who would be his partner during the first five years of Sam's, the business was born. There's never been a Sam tied to Sam's. It was a name the guys liked. Things started simply in the space previously used as a cabbie dispatch office. Four sandwiches were available. It was 75 cents for a medium and $1.10 for a large. In the '90s the menu expanded to five items, including turkey.

Due to the small space of the shop, the menu had only five sandwiches on it until the move in 2005.

Rising rents moved the locally-loved sandwich shop slightly down the road to the city-owned former Greyhound bus depot at the intersection of Howard Drive, California Drive and Highland Avenue. Moving gave Betti the option to expand the menu to include hot sandwiches, hot dogs, soup and chili.

To donate, visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: sandwiches, burlingame, drive, people, sandwich, effort,

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