Sgt. Pepper’s Café is coming to West Jefferson Street, but it will be a slightly different venture from the current restaurant on the corner of Stevenson and Baker Drive and will have different ownership.
“It will be the same name and concept, and probably the same menu for the most part, but definitely two different businesses,” said owner Muhammed Samara. “My prices will be different, more affordable.”
Samara’s father, Ziyad Samara, owns and operates Sgt. Pepper’s Café at 3141 Baker Dr. “I’ve been working alongside my father since I was 14, starting at the very first location we had on Chatham Road, then when we moved across the street to Chatham and Wabash in the space that is now Godfather’s Pizza,” Samara said. “Then we had two locations for a few years, the one on Wabash and the one on Stevenson.”
Samara said he left Springfield for a short time to help his brother open a Sgt. Pepper’s Café in Edwardsville and then returned in 2007 to work with his father at the current location. Now he has purchased the property at 700 W. Jefferson St. to open his own business.
Curt and Vicky Ritz operated Ritz’s at that location from 2001 until August of this year, when they consolidated their staff and operations at the original Ritz’s Lil’ Fryer at 2148 North Grand Ave. East. Vicky Ritz told SBJ at the time that staffing issues contributed to the decision to only have one restaurant.
Samara said he is now in the process of hiring staff, as the current Sgt. Pepper’s employees will stay at his father’s restaurant, although he said some previous employees will be working for him.. “I’m going to add pastries, muffins and croissants, and we’ll have a coffee bar area with specialty drinks like lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and that sort of thing,” Samara said. “I’ll also have ice cream and smoothies, like vanilla bean and avocado honey.”
Samara said he only plans to do minor renovations to the space initially, “a little bit of cosmetics and that’s about it. After the first couple years I’d like to do some remodeling inside to freshen it up.”
For now, he is focused on getting his restaurant operational and hopes to be open by early December.