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A HISTORY OF THE BATTISTONE FOUNDATION
The Battistone Foundation was born from one man’s passion and concern for the elderly population. His vision for a comfortable, elegant, and secure living environment for people in their “golden years” became a reality. Sam Battistone Sr. established the Battistone Foundation in 1968, with the intention of providing quality low-income housing to retired citizens who were not as fortunate as he. A prosperous businessman from humble beginnings, Sam Sr. believed in community service and putting his faith into action: The Battistone Foundation is a culmination of Sam Sr.’s perseverance, values, and indomitable spirit.
Sam Battistone was born in beautiful Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. In 1919, when he was just seven years old, Sam and his mother immigrated to the United States to join his father who was working in the coal mines near Pittsuburgh, Pennsylvania. Like so many other immigrants drawn to America in search of a better life after the war, Sam’s parents came here with a dream.
After graduating from high school, Sam found himself laboring in the same coal mines as his father. Due to union strikes, the mines were often idle, so Sam and his buddy rode the freight trains across the country in search of gainful work. Sam hoped his dreams could be achieved out west. He eventually found employment as a cook at the Blue Bell Café in the town of Glendale, California. It was here that Sam met his wife Ione, and started a family.
The dream of owning their own restaurant brought Sam, his wife, and their three children, Sam Jr., Dona, and John Roger, to the town of Santa Barbara in 1947. They opened up Sammy’s Grill on State Street and knew they had found a permanent home in the quaint coastal community.
A decade later, Sam Battistone and his business partner, Newell Bohnett, purchased and refurbished a restaurant on Cabrillo Blvd. The two combined their names (Sam and Bo) and called their restaurant Sambo’s. This was the start of their highly successful national chain, eventually operating over 1,200 restaurants.
Sam Battistone Sr. did much more than serve a good, 10 cent cup of coffee: He served up the American dream. The Battistone Foundation is a tribute to his parents and to all hard working citizens who refuse to give up on the dream.
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