Slice of nice: Southport community helps Sammy’s Pizza reopen
Published 7:31 am, Tuesday, June 30, 2015
A fixture in Southport’s small business district held its grand reopening Monday after an electrical fire nearly 15 months ago forced it to close.
“I am so excited to be here and back in business and back in my community,” Sammy Palik, 48, owner of Sammy’s Southport Pizza & Grill, said at the grand reopening attended by town officials and longtime customers. “It’s good to be back in this town.”
Jeremy Jackson of Southport, a regular at Sammy’s before it closed, attended the grand reopening with his daughter, Olivia, 5, and son, Hunter, 3. “We are very pleased because my children love Sammy’s pizza and they love Sammy,” he said.
Jackson said Sammy’s pizza was “always fresh, always hot” and “has that true local flavor to it.”
Olivia said, “He’s the best pizza maker.”
Jackson said the renovation of Sammy’s, which includes a new wood floor, brick wall with blue anchors, a Mediterranean terra cotta tile roof, booth seating and wooden tables and chairs, is “a big improvement.”
“There’s a bit more space for more patrons to eat inside. Everything’s up to date. I think it just has that true nautical flavor that’s germane to a seaport town,” he said.
Palik said the kitchen and kitchen equipment also are new and that he added central air conditioning and heat so his customers would feel more comfortable eating inside on hot and cold days. All that was left after the fire was “two concrete walls,” Palik said.
“Insurance helped us and I put my own money in too,” Palik said.
Palik said the menu is essentially the same and includes pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, salads, gyros, wraps, appetizers, ice cream and Italian ices. He said Sammy’s was known for its grilled chicken salad.
LuAnn Giunta, who was at the grand reopening, said Sammy’s return was “very exciting.”
“He’s done a wonderful job,” she said. “It’s retro, it’s nautical, it’s beautifully updated … Sometimes it takes something serious happening to come back even better.”
Giunta said she appreciated the extra seating for frequent customers and said Palik “really understands his customers” because he offers a varied menu. “Not everyone always wants to eat pizza,” she said.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau, who participated in a ribbon cutting, said Sammy’s grand reopening was “fabulous.”
“This is literally a rebirth of a town institution,” Tetreau said. He said Southport Center’s small business district is “one of the great features in our town and really brings the Southport community together.”
“Sammy’s is one of the jewels in the crown of Southport Center, and I can’t wait to get back here and try a slice of pizza from the new Sammy’s,” Tetreau said.
“It’s been a long haul, but I think the results speak for themselves. This is what community is all about —coming together and supporting small businesses,” Barnhart said. “It’s part of the fabric of Southport Village so it’s good to see Sammy back in business again.”
Sammy’s Southport Pizza & Grill opened in 2004, but was forced to close after the fire in April 2014. In the aftermath as he planned to reopen, Palik, a Fairfield resident with four children, said he carried paper and a pen everywhere he went so he could jot down ideas for what the new Sammy’s would look like. With extra time as the restaurant remained closed, he said he also devoted more time to helping his kids with their homework, which boosted their grades considerably.
Palik said Monday he felt as though Sammy’s had never been forced to close because he sees the same people and recognizes the same addresses for those who order for delivery. “It feels great being part of the community and being in a normal life — getting up in the morning, going to work and taking care of the family,” he said.
Palik had two reasons to celebrate Monday, as his son, John, turned 6 years old that day.
Before the fire, Palik was known for supporting local fundraisers and charities, and his devotion to the Southport community was recognized shortly after the fire when Southport residents held a fundraiser for Palik’s business that raised about $30,000.
Sammy’s, 295 Pequot Ave., is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers takeout and delivery. The phone number is 203-259-9843.