Goodbye Sam's Sushi, thanks for the memories

My first job in Nashville was with Lightning 100 and we were downtown at the L&C Tower. At the time, The Husband (then The Boyfriend) also worked downtown and we'd go have lunch together at Sam's Sushi. We ate there a lot, either together or solo or with friends. I even brought my parents there when they visited and they were very tickled by it and impressed at how generous he was with his food.

Sam was always friendly with us, in spite of his nickname being the Sushi Nazi due to his strict ordering rules and how he'd sometimes tell people they were ordering too much. Everybody has a Sam's Sushi Bar story, and here are mine.

This one time I was dining there, a rather heavy woman (heavier than Sam) walked in and proceeded to order not one but 2 of his lunch sets which, honestly, were already of an ample portion size.

He looked at her order slip, looked at her, look at the order slip again and said "I give you one first, then if you're still hungry I give you another. This is too much food." He saw me watching and winked. It was really hard for me to contain the giggles.

He'd tell us he was a socialist, that's why he never closed even on holidays. When it was just us, he'd say stuff about Americans and it made me wonder if he talked about the rest of us to Americans. I always ordered the same thing and It got to a point where he would decide for me so I'd just write on the slip "Lunch Special, you pick" and he'd just give me a combination of two of the three things I always ordered - either a combo of crunchy shrimp and spicy tuna or eel.

My favorite and fondest memory of all my interactions with Sam was on this one day I'd gone in at my usual 11:30am lunch time, and it was fairly packed but not crazy so against better judgement, I started to write my order down. He called out to me and bellowed "If you're my friend you'll come back later. Come back at 1."

The only thought going through my head was "aww, I'm your friend??" I obediently left went back at 1.

Anyway, Lightning 100 moved to Marathon Village in 2005 and that was the end of my lunches at Sam's. The Husband and I decided to go back for lunch on a Saturday a few months later and when we walked in, he looked up from behind the bar and stared at us for a second before going, "YOU'RE STILL TOGETHER????"

That was more than 8 years ago and, regretfully, The Husband and I kept talking about going back to visit, to see if he'd still remember us but just never did. Well, I just found out that he's officially closed down Sam's Sushi Bar for good so we'll never find out if he still remembers us.

  Photo courtesy of The Tennessean & Jen Todd

Photo courtesy of The Tennessean & Jen Todd

Or maybe he won't. But we'll always remember him and fondly so. Thanks for the sushi, Sam. Nashville wishes you well.