In honor of late Mayor Edwin M. Lee, April 5th will be now be known in San Francisco as "SAM's Diner Day," city officials have proclaimed.
SAM's American Eatery—also known as Sam's Diner—is located just a few blocks away from City Hall at 1220 Market St., and was one of Lee's preferred eateries.
The late mayor began frequenting the establishment in 2012, often praising owner Jeannie Kim's decision to invest in the revitalization of the Mid-Market district, according to former staff members.
Lee often held meetings at his favorite table, notoriously arriving at least 30 minutes early to "have coffee and gather his thoughts," she said. After Lee established himself as a regular, Kim and her staff set aside table five as his table, partially because it offered the most privacy in the restaurant.
In Lee's honor, Kim installed a plaque at his table, snapped a photo and sent it off to members of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "Thought you should see this first," Kim wrote.
"This Table is Dedicated To Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Who Shared His Love For the City, Passion For Empowering People And Always Found Laughter In His Work. 1952–2017,” the memorial reads.
Once news of the tribute traveled around City Hall, some of Lee's former staff held a tribute luncheon in his honor to swap stories and order some of his favorite dishes.
SAM's Diner employee Shoovdor Tsedendorj said some of Lee's go-to meals were the Mahalo Loco Moco and the bacon pancake breakfast. Tsedendorj said he always took his coffee black, his pancakes with no butter, and his loco moco medium with extra gravy.
Following the lunch, Lee's former chief of staff Jason Elliot—who's now serving Interim Mayor Mark Farrell—addressed other patrons and restaurant staff and presented the official city proclamation to manager Gabriella Gomez, Tsedendorj, and chef Neil Marquis on Kim's behalf, to applause from diners.
Outside, "it was another day of theatre on Market Street, but a civic kind, for SAM’s Diner," an OEWD representative told Hoodline. "The meal finished and the check paid, the staff left it on the table overlooked by a smiling Ed Lee."
The proclamation reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the City and County of San Francisco traditionally recognizes small businesses that have made significant and remarkable contributions to the vitality of our City, and Sam’s Diner truly represents San Francisco values at their best; and
WHEREAS, Sam’s Diner, just steps away from City Hall, has been serving the Central Market and Tenderloin neighborhood for over 10 years; and
WHEREAS, Sam’s Diner owner Jeannie Kim has created a comforting and welcoming place for all to come and enjoy classic home-style food, holding a special place in the hearts of many in residents and visitors from all over the world; and
WHEREAS, Sam’s Diner was a favorite spot for the late Mayor Lee, who after taking office in 2011, would regularly hold important meetings with various City staff and community leaders; and
WHEREAS, table number five at Sam’s Diner became Mayor Lee’s hangout; he would order his favorite dish: the Mahalo Loco Moco, which consists of a beef patty and two eggs over easy, layered on steamed rice and covered with brown gravy; and
WHEREAS, Mayor Lee will always be remembered at Sam’s Diner where a plaque has been installed in the booth where he would often sit for coffee; we will continue to hold the places he cared about most close in our hearts, and will continue to visit Mayor Lee’s booth at Sam’s Diner; now
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Mark E. Farrell, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, do hereby declare April 5, 2018 as…
SAM’S DINER DAY in San Francisco!
[Correction: an earlier version of this story reported that late Mayor Ed Lee enjoyed his pancakes with extra butter, but SAMS' manager Gabriela Gomez contacted Hoodline to say that the late mayor declined butter .]
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