Memories live on after owner of iconic Garden City restaurant dies

On the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, many employees at Samâ??s Corner on Atlantic Avenue in Garden City remembered the devastation of the big storm, but on Sunday, they were also remembering the life of the man who started the restaurant.

On Friday, the owner of Samâ??s Corner, Sam Baker, 62, lost his long-time battle to diabetes.

An electronic billboard that hangs on the side of the brightly colored red, yellow, and blue restaurant serves as a reminder of Sam, as a devoted restaurateur. It also marks his legacy in the food service industry.

The electronic billboard isnâ??t the only visual reminder of Sam. There is a chair in the restaurant that Sam sat in every day. There, he would greet customers who came through the doors. A plant and a rose have now been placed in that chair in his memory.

Vinson Ward, an employee at Samâ??s Corner, remembers Sam both as a boss and a father figure.

â??He was more like my father after my daddy passed away a couple of years ago. He was there when my daddy died and called me and told me he was sorry for my loss. I mean the last couple of years, he got on me like my dad used to,â?? Ward told us.

His father-like compassion also carried over to many of his customers.

"He'd like to make sure that families were well taken care of, giving the children a cookie or lots of times, he gave away t-shirts. He just was a real giving man,â?? said Tommy Phipps, who's been an employee of Samâ??s since 1977 when he was 13 years old.

Emily Baker, Samâ??s daughter, remembers the big impact he had on the community,

â??He made a big impact on the community. If you didnâ??t know him personally and mentioned Samâ??s Corner, people knew who he is,â?? Emily said.

However the impact doesnâ??t stop there, Emily said the notoriety of Samâ??s Corner expanded overseas. Emily told WPDE NewsChannel 15 about the time she went to Egypt with her brother and father on vacation. To her surprise, one of the cabs they saw had a Samâ??s Corner bumper sticker on it.

Samâ??s Corner was established on Easter Weekend in 1976.

Employees said starting Monday at 3 p.m. all Sam's Corner restaurants will be closed until Wednesday. Visitation will be from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Monday at Goldfinch Funeral Home Beach Chapel. A funeral service will be at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at Garden City Chapel, with burial to follow at Ocean Woods Cemetery.