Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New owners take over Sambos site

Little Sambos purchased by Game Over owners Chis and Jenny Donner

As surely as the Pacific’s tides will come and go, so will businesses in Lincoln City. Sometimes they disappear for good and sometimes they change into something different, yet familiar.

So it is with Lil’ Sambos restaurant at 3262 NE Hwy 101, Lincoln City.  Formerly owned by the Moore family, Sambos was an iconic bit of history in Lincoln City. 

(from left to right) Realtor Debbie Williams, Jenny and Chris Donner

And now it faces a future with local residents and owners of Game Over Arcade 2821 NW Hwy 101, Lincoln City. Chris and Jenny Donner.

Purchased after lengthy deliberations within the family, the Donners plan to resurrect Sambos into a jungle themed children’s amusement facility complete with climbing cages and various games for everyone to enjoy.

Asked how the idea began, Chris explained. ” We knew , since covid, that this town has been losing kid’s stuff left and right.  We kept thinking ‘something will reopen,’ but nothing did.”

He continues, “We were at an international amusement conference and saw the possibilities of indoor play structures and thought ‘This is doable!’

That was in November (2022). Right about that time Sambos closed and we thought, ‘That could be a great building (for a play structure)’ and we started thinking how it would work with the existing theming of the tigers and jungle and such.

We started brainstorming, then out of the blue our Realtor Debbie Williams called us on an unrelated subject and we started talking about Sambos and…here we are.”

Asked when construction might begin, Donner said, “Soon, I hope.  But we need to get through spring break first.”

Chris Donner takes a final walkthrough and explains his goals .

Donner hopes to come to agreement with a company that specializes in indoor play structures to design, deliver and build the amusement.  There will be food available but as of this article no concrete plans have been established. 

The Donners also plan on creating a private party room for birthdays.

Locals and tourist alike will be pleased to know that the familiar umbrella carrying tiger will remain as will the latest fan favorite, the life sized Sasquatch.

No new name has been chosen.

Be sure to subscribe to Lincoln City Homepage for updates and Grand Opening dates.

Don Williams
Don Williams
Don Williams serves as publisher and editor of The Lincoln City Homepage.


  1. WOW, I really wish them the best and love to see locals taking that chance on a new business ! I worry that kids today are way to addicted to technology and the virtual world. I hope I am wrong !!!

  2. I mean no disrespect to anyone involved in previous incarnations of the restaurant, nor disrespect to those who made memories there, but I gotta say— please, new owners, call the place “Tiger Pancake” or something and let our community and all that visit us move on? IMO, there’s no reason to maintain a name that deeply disturbs people for the sake of tradition.

    Besides, a kid would way rather go to a place called “Tiger Pancake”, right?

    • They should sell food, be the new Chuck E Cheese for sure.
      I’ve thought there needed to be more places to just have fun. Including for kids, teens, and adults alike. Good and wholesome places.

    • I don’t think you’re being disrespectful. Times have changed. You’re throwing out ideas for consideration. That’s called support!
      I am so excited for this young family to make this happen!

    • Sambo’s, is a story about an Indian boy. There is nothing wrong with the name or story. If you don’t like it, just move on as it’s not for you.

    • I ate there as a kid when it was correctly named “Lil Black Sambos”, and I quite likely still have the wonderful children’s book of the same name telling the story of the little Indian boy. People need to learn to own their issues. No one has the ability to ‘trigger’ me, I have to choose what I am triggered by. No one has the ability to offend me either, I am the only one that can choose what I find offensive. Demanding someone change the name of their business because you choose to be offended is utterly irresponsible.

  3. Good luck. This city is brutal when it comes to new restaurants and other businesses. Think of how many you’ve seen pop up for a year and then vanish.
    It takes a good idea coupled with easy access.

  4. I was hoping they were going to take over the restaurant and continue serve great food. We truly miss the food at Sambo’s. Pig n pancake had nothing on it. Best of luck to the new business.

    • This has been a family tradition for me for 35 years. Was sad to see it closed, March 2023. I hope you still plan on serving breakfast. Doesn’t matter what you name it. It was Sambo’s when my MOM died, so it will always be Sambo’s to me.

  5. I hope they keep the name. To change it would lose a lot of history. There’s too many people who get easily offended at everything, and we’ve got to stop Insanity of trying to please everybody.

  6. Always wondered what will be done with this place. I think it’s an awesome idea to turn this into an amusement facility. Maybe they can even include indoor zip lines which would be very fun for the kids. I would definitely bring my grandkids here when they come visit. A jungle theme would be okay but the lil sambos character definitely needs to be retired. I also agree that big foot has to go as well. Out with the old and in with the new. The place needs innovative branding and signage that is eye-catching day and night. This is an opportunity to bring the facility forward into the future. I wish the new owners the best of luck.

  7. I definately wish them the best and this is just one opinion. People drive 50 plus miles to visit the coast. It’s a great idea but I’m not sure people will drive that far for it. I imagine this to be a place for birthday parties, etc. Expecting a number guests to travel that far seems unreasonable. It sounds great for a location closer to a population center. I’m concerned, I may be wrong but the coast is the attraction. Locate somewhere with logistics in mind.

  8. Pixie kitchen was a good place a nd
    people really missed it when they closed this could be a great thing for Lincoln City we need .ore things for kids tod over hear and a reason for people to stay in town Rather than go through to Newport

  9. Whatever happened to the bowling alley? Where are the country dance bars? There’s not much of anything to do for the 60+ group. How come?

  10. Question??What does “Bigfoot” have to do with a tiger and little boy?Please consider putting Bigfoot someplace else.An idea,why not,new owners,have a contest for a new name?Get our community involved.Good luck to the new owners!!!


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