“I eat here once a week at least, sometimes twice a week,” frequent customer Susanna Contreras said on a gorgeous, cool Friday evening.
“I love it. It’s really good. I haven’t eaten anything I haven’t liked, let’s put it that way.”
Sammy’s Burgers & Brew is exactly what the name suggests and more.
There’s no indoor dining area, it’s all open air with picnic and regular tables situated underneath a huge roof.
There’s flat-screen TVs, heaters if it gets too cold and the most beautiful sunsets you’d ever want to view after a hard day’s work.
And it’s quiet.
With Highways 59 and 181 nearby, it seems impossible, but it’s serene and calm and the perfect spot to catch the aforementioned sunsets, which are so spectacular they deserve to be mentioned twice.
“We started this here two months ago,” Sammy Farias said one afternoon at his restaurant.
“We had a dream ever since we closed the other one to continue on in the business.”
Farias was referring to the diner he operated out of the old S&H Grocery since 1995, and that his father ran from 1982 before becoming a restaurant which closed a few years ago.
“We got out of the business in 2006, and we had this property here, and we’ve been putting this idea together, and it finally gelled together this year.
“It was a pretty easy idea; we had a couple of bad weather days and stuff like that, but other than that the concept was easy.
“We have predominantly good weather here in Beeville, so it’s not going to hurt us here at all.”
Cold weather fix
And the question on everyone’s mind as the one or two months of cold weather we get all year are almost upon us: What will happen then?
“We have some curtains coming in.
“In about two weeks we’ll have some curtains that we’ll draw, clear curtains that will block the north wind and block the rain; that way you can still come out and enjoy.
“We have some radiant heaters that we put in here, so it should heat it up and shouldn’t stop us at all.”
Children run around and play in the grass around the outdoor area as their parents watch from nearby.
“People who have kids really enjoy it, because they (the children) run around and they have a blast.
“They just turn them loose, and that’s something you can’t do at a regular restaurant.
“We’re trying to cater to the folks and try and see what the needs are here.”
But it’s mainly the food that brings people over to Sammy’s in droves.
“The fries are excellent. The hamburgers are, too,” Pastor Tim Stowe said as he sat patiently waiting for his burger.
“Looks like they use real patties and they’re not pre-formed, and it’s just a pretty good hamburger.”
Walking up to the restaurant, you’re all of a sudden inundated with the smell of burgers on the grill.
A welcomed scent for any South Texan.
“Nothing’s frozen; everything’s fresh,” Farias assured me.
“We buy the buns of course, but the hamburger patties we make here.
“Just putting them on the flat top.
“Everything’s got to hit that flat top. If you do one thing right, it’s that.
“Nothing’s been pre-made before. All of our mushrooms, onion rings, pickles – everything we do is fresh.”
And those who have missed Farias’ old favorites from his previous restaurant can now breath a sigh of relief.
“We’ve got our specials back.
“It’s been a request since we were at the other location to get our soft tacos back on Thursday, enchiladas on Mondays, barbecue on Saturdays.”
And the service is something that has yet to be rivaled.
While Farias is working the grill, customers usually shout out greetings or give him a hard time, which he always takes in stride and makes the time to give a genuine reply or make a joke.
And it’s the sort of atmosphere at Sammy’s that make it feel like you’re out at a friend’s house, hanging out in their backyard.
But the food’s better than any of my friends’ cooking.
“It’s not like a business. I guess it’s family.
“We can remember your name. It’s more of a personal touch.
“You’re not talking to an intercom, going through a drive thru. We like to see you.
“And that goes back to my dad, Manuel Farias. He’s been in business all of his life. It’s the service.
“You give them the service, you treat them right and they’ll come back.
“Treat people like you want them to come back, not like a number.”
Worth the wait
And unlike most restaurants, the vibe is quite relaxed between the customers and employees.
There’s a slight wait for your food once you order, but when the burgers are made to order and fresh, you forget all about it after the first bite.
“We want you to come and relax, not to be in a hurry.
“People phone in their orders and do things like that.
“A lot of teachers have a real short lunch hour so we have to have it ready by the time they come in.
“They walk through, and they need to have it ready. They don’t have that much time to eat.
“We just try to take care of them.”
Happy to be back
And Farias seems happy to be back at it again after a few years away from the community, serving up some of the best food in town.
“This is different from my other business. We had a huge lunch crowd, almost no dinner crowd.
“And this one, we have a really good lunch, but our evening crowd is twice as big.
And he seems proud of the place.
It really was a family endeavor, as he got input from his wife, Lydia, and two sons, Levi and Jacob.
“I want the boys to eventually take over.
“I designed the kitchen, but the ideas for the food and what to put in them and stuff like that, it was the boys. Jacob and Levi put that together.
“So, they’re tweaking it. They’re getting there.
“They already have ideas for the big games and stuff like that.
“For the Super Bowl, since everybody wants wings, you’ll have a time slot when you call in.
“You can say you want 50 wings, and we’ll say, ‘Ok, your time slot is 11:15 or 11:30,’ because you can’t do 500 wings right before the ball game.
“So, they already have that figured out, because that’s what they do in the bigger cities.
“We’re blowing and going on the wings.”
And what’s Sammy’s Burgers & Brew without the brew?
They have a really nice selection of brewskis, from Shock Top and Shiner Bock to Lonestar and Bud Light.
Oil field workers file in and settle down after a hard day’s work with a beer and a burger and unwind.
“That’s the boys again.
“They’re 24, 25 years old. They know what the people are looking for.”
And if they weren’t busy enough, the place also caters.
From wedding rehearsals to birthdays, they do it all.
And he’ll make anything you want, from burgers to steak to seafood.
It’s all here in one place.
And watching the family smile and laugh with each other and joke with the customers is pretty great, too.
It brings the good food full circle when it’s served by good people.
“We’ve been blessed with the customers we have. Really blessed with the business.
“We’re not trying to kill it seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
“We’re open five days, and we give you the best service we can, take a couple of days off and get back to it. (They’re closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).
“We still have some more landscaping to work on, but we’ve just been so busy. We haven’t been able to catch up on that.”
But it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, it’s what’s on the inside.
And inside of Sammy’s Burgers & Brew it’s all heart.
Which is quite possibly the best ingredient for any place.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.