Sambo's was founded in Santa Barbara in 1957 by Sam Battistone and Newell F. Bohnett, who combined their names to form the moniker, apparently without realizing it was also an epithet directed at African-Americans [source: Hill]. (In their defense, Helen Bannerman's children's book "Little Black Sambo," actually is about a dark-skinned child in India, not Africa [source: Bannerman].) In addition to serving its Sambo burgers and stacks of Sambo cakes, Sambo's had an innovative equity-sharing scheme that rewarded restaurant managers with a piece of the pie [source: Jakle]. When the chain reached its apex in the early 1980s, it had 1,117 restaurants. By then, though, Sambo's was already starting to falter financially. Worse yet, its name became such a lightning rod for anti-discrimination protesters that the company tried going by "Sam's" and "Jolly Tiger" in some locations [source: AP]. As the chain gradually collapsed in the 1980s, many of its locations became Denny's [source: Jakle].
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