Two downtown Bowling Green restaurants are switching locations.
Beckett’s Burger Bar, 146 N. Main St., and SamB’s Restaurant, 163 S. Main St., will both close temporarily on Friday, then re-open after the moves are made.
For Beckett’s owner George Strata, it will be a homecoming of sorts to purchase the SamB’s building, which used to house Kaufman’s, where he worked in college.
“Buying that building when I worked there, it’s kind of neat to me,” he said. “It’s a full circle. … I’ve had a lot of interaction with all the players who have been in that building. I have a lot of good memories of being in that building.”
Strata, who has operated Beckett’s since 2007, said that he and Jim Ferrell, who owns both the Beckett’s and SamB’s buildings, have been in regular communication about the sites. SamB’s used to be in the Beckett’s location; when Kaufman’s closed, SamB’s relocated there.
“Jim’s been my landlord since I purchase the business from him in 2007,” Strata said. “There’s just been a lot of conversation over the last few years about why I want to own my own space.
“He and I came up with the idea of switching, to give him something smaller and me something bigger. I really have outgrown it.”
Ferrell said the move will also be a circle for him. SamB’s had been at the 146 N. Main St. location from 1988-2002.
“We always missed the old place,” he said. “There was just an intimacy that we enjoyed there and we enjoyed the ease of management and we were ready to go back.
“George suggested a swap and it sounded like a good idea.”
Strata said that he can provide good food and good service anywhere, but really wanted to have permanency.
“It’s more about owning my own future, which means owning my own space.”
Strata is looking forward to the extra space.
“We’ve outgrown the capacity of what our tiny kitchen can do,” he said.
Strata plans to have Beckett’s open, in some form, in the SamB’s building, by late next week.
“My wife, Amy, and I are purchasing the building,” he said. “Our last day at 146 N. Main will be Friday. We hope to be open the following Friday in at least one of the rooms.
“We’re going to get in there and work as hard as we can to get some services open,” Strata said. “The kitchen is in great shape so the kitchen is not going to be an issue. I just want to make it feel more like our place, Beckett’s.”
The SamB’s building is a maze of rooms, with a bar area with booths, main dining area and back dining area. There is also an upstairs.
Once settled, Strata plans to expand the Beckett’s menu and catering.
He said they will offer current food trends, healthier fare, salads and more grilled options.
“Food is something, there’s a lot of trends and we want to stay on top of the trends,” Strata said.
There may also be some outdoor seating offered. It could be tables in the front or a new parklet, which is seating into the front parking area, an idea the city is rolling out, he said.
“We’re just excited. We’re excited to expand and we’re excited for the change. I just think we have lot to look forward to,” Strata said. “We love to be such a big part of the downtown community. To me, it’s one of the most historic buildings in downtown.”
Ferrell, who came to the city from New Jersey in 1968 to attend Bowling Green State University, said that the first SamB’s opened in Bowling Green on March 6, 1972 on East Wooster Street.
“We started out as a little sub shop,” Ferrell said. “We had 13 subs and they were $1.20 each.”
In 1985, he took a step away from the restaurant business, then re-opened SamB’s at 146 N. Main St. in April 1988.
He purchased the South Main Street property and business in 1997. Ferrell ran it as Kaufman’s until 2002.
“Then we shut down both places and it probably took us two weeks to turn this into the next SamB’s,” he said of the South Main Street location.
“It will be our fourth SamB’s,” Ferrell said of the latest move.
He plans on opening on North Main Street the first week of August.
“In the new location, it will be similar,” he said of the menu. “What we don’t want to do is disappoint our loyal customers. It will be a little more eclectic.”
(Multi-media journalist J.D. Pooley contributed to this story.)