You might be from Homewood if you or your children have ever rolled down the grassy hill inside the Sam’s Deli and Grill courtyard. There’s something about the simple charm of this neighborhood favorite that puts customers at ease. Owner and operator Sam Daibes wouldn’t want it any other way.
His gigantic smile practically speaks for itself. “I love every family. I like socializing with them,” Sam says. “They know I’m going to treat them right when they come here.” Long time Homewood folks may know Sam from his days managing the Purple Onion on Greensprings. Others may remember when Sam later managed Moneer’s, which occupied Sam’s current location. When Moneer’s closed, Sam decided to turn the business into his own.
Nestled in the Oxmoor Road strip of Edgewood, Sam’s Deli serves a delicious mix of American and Greek-style foods. From salads and chicken fingers to gyros and falafel, it’s easy to find a favorite dish at Sam’s. “They have the best hummus and cheeseburgers around,” says 11-year-old Edgewood student Julia Dabney. “It’s our first pick when we want to go out to eat,” adds Julia’s mother, Natalie.
Originally from Jordan, Sam currently lives with his wife, Suzan, and their two children, 12-year-old Scarlett and 11-year-old Matthew. He moved to the United States to study English in college more than 30 years ago. At that time, he didn’t have much experience making food. He jokes that his mother taught him how to cook an egg right before he left. Despite his novice kitchen skills at the time, Sam’s uncle helped him find a job washing dishes at The Pita Stop just two days after moving here. He’s been working in the restaurant business ever since. And Homewood residents are thankful for that.
“We always have wonderful customer service and my kids love to see Sam,” says Homewood mom Alison Henninger. It’s also the kind of spot where young families like the Henningers are likely to run into friends, a nice bonus for kids looking for some fun.
Visits from these children stand out as one of the most rewarding parts of Sam’s job. Considering that he’s been serving some Homewood families for decades, he feels a special bond toward them. “I love seeing the kids grow up—especially when they come back to visit,” he says.
While patrons rave about Sam’s food and relaxed atmosphere, Sam has faced some difficult times while running his restaurant. When a fire struck the deli a year and a half ago, Sam was forced to temporarily close. However, his faithful customers refused to let him stay down for long. Social media exploded with Homewood residents trying to help Sam raise enough money to get his restaurant back in business.
Long-time customer and friend Minda Campbell explains it best. “When the news of the fire at Sam’s traveled around Homewood, our community was collectively shaken,” she says. “Sam’s is as much a Homewood institution as the pool, park and Piggly Wiggly, and our devotion to Sam, his business and his family was evident and overwhelming. In a matter of days, the fundraising goal was shattered. Still, people just kept giving. There are countless reasons to love Homewood. For me, the way we always come together to love, support, and take care of one of our own, is by far my favorite.”
Watching the community rally behind him touched Sam deeply. “These people are family, not just friends,” he says of those who helped him. It’s these relationships that keep Sam’s Deli in the heart of Homewood. While Sam laughs about how nice it would be to retire one day, locals don’t need to worry about him leaving anytime soon. “I’d like to just stay right here,” Sam says of his future.
Sam gladly shares a few fun facts about Sam’s Deli and Grill.
How long has Sam’s Deli been in Homewood?
What is the most popular item on the menu?
What is the item kids like best?
What’s your favorite food on the menu?
Mushroom Swiss Burger
What is your wife’s favorite?
Beef Kabob and Philly Steak
Fun fact about the menu?
I haven’t raised prices in three years.
How many employees work at Sam’s?
3 or 4
What are the usual business hours?
8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (closed on Sundays)
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Sam’s?
Probably running another restaurant somewhere else!