By Anna Grace Moore
Sam’s Super Samwiches owner Sue Graphos is the epitome of strength and perseverance. When her husband, Sam, passed away unexpectedly on October 5, 2021, she was devastated as anyone would be; yet, she is choosing to continue on her husband’s legacy through their love of “samwiches.” Here she talks about the impact Sam had on the Homewood community and how she is carrying on the familial legacy by “living like Sammy.”
Where did the idea to open up a sandwich shop come from?
“Years ago, my husband and his two brothers started Sneaky Pete’s,” Sue says. “We decided that we would buy this store [in Homewood] and keep it. When Sneaky Pete’s was sold, we changed the name of the [location], and the rest is history.” Sam’s Super Samwiches opened in the ’70s off the strip in Homewood and operated in the same location until 2021 when it temporarily closed.
What made you decide to relocate and reopen Sam’s Super Samwiches after Sam’s passing?
“A man named Scott Bryant reached out to my son to see if we wanted to relocate,” she remembers. “That was the last thing on my mind to relocate. I couldn’t wrap my head around losing him let alone relocating and reopening. We decided that Homewood had given us so much over the years. We [wanted] to give back to the community and continue Sammy’s legacy.”
How long have y’all been serving the Homewood community?
“It was a long time to be in one spot,” Sue recalls. “When we opened the new store, I decided that I wanted it to look as much like the old place to give everybody a feeling they were in Sam’s and not just another fast food place.” She says her renovators took all of the photographs that were on the wall at the old store, took the pictures out, cleaned the frames, put the pictures back in and hung them up just to preserve the history. “It gave you the feel of the old store,” Sue explains. “You knew you were in Sam’s when you walked in and saw all those pictures because they’re the same pictures that’d been there for 50 years.”
Can you speak any on the relationships between him and his customers?
One of Sam’s most memorable achievements is how even after 50 years a customer could walk in, and he’d recite the customer’s usual off the top of his head. Sam had thousands of customers over the years, but he never forgot one. “When he got sick, I knew how many people loved him and wanted to see him,” she says. “I just left my door open the 10 days that he was home with hospice. I let anybody and everybody that wanted to come see him come.” One visitor Sue will never forget is a young man named Austin, who was one of Sam’s regulars. When Austin learned that Sam was sick, he drove for hours around different Homewood neighborhoods until he found Sam’s car in the driveway. He knew Sam didn’t have long to live, but he wanted to thank him one last time. “‘I thought my granddaddy made the best chili in the world until I tasted Sammy’s chili,’” Sue says as she quotes Austin. Sue laughs as she asks who drives for hours just to thank someone for good chili. That’s the impact that Sam had on the lucky people who met him.
What do you think best describes Sam’s character?
The word, humble, comes to mind. “You think you know somebody because you live with them for 60 years,” Sue explains. “He was the most generous being, but he [would] never [tell] anybody. He would give anything because he had a good heart.” Sue recalls that years into their marriage she learned how Sam would buy two bicycles every Christmas and deliver them to families in need. She never knew. Sam adopted friends as his own kin, giving them fellowship that they may never have. He donated to churches and charities and college funds, too. “There’s no telling how many kids [he helped] send to college,” Sue says, laughing. “He had a heart of gold.”