Walking through the Park Blocks between classes one day in the early 90s I ran into my old friend Nick. We’d been buddies in grade school and high school, but when he went off to OSU and I to Reed, we didn’t stay in touch. Several years later we both happened to wind up at PSU. We had a beer and caught up, and subsequently frequently spent our evenings, at Sam’s Hof Brau.
Sam’s was a divey old-school chain restaurant; cafeteria-style roast beef buffet with a full bar and a pool table. On Sixth, where that damn McDonalds is now. There were no windows then, so no natural light was shed on the sedate subterranean setting.
Dark wainscoting predominated. The tables were tall and all the chairs were bar stool height. The pitchers of beer seemed to be as tall as the tables, and they were cheap. Local drunks and college aged drunks-to-be rubbed shoulders peaceably. Sam’s was to PSU what the Lutz was to Reed.
We never did find a suitable replacement when we got the news they were closing. The Cheerful Tortoise was then, and is now, something completely different. A lot of the regulars moved on up to River City, which has its divey charms, but it’s no Sam’s.
A recent article in the Tribune brought back the memory of Sam’s Hof Brau. It appears there are a few left scattered around the country, but the one in LA is now a strip club and the one in Sacramento is known as Plaza Hof Brau.