iconic sammy's slated for encore at new playhousesquare restaurant

The iconic Sammy's Restaurant reigned over the Flats during the entertainment district's erstwhile heyday from 1980 through 2000. Now the venue is making a comeback in a new, transformed location at PlayhouseSquare that is set to open in December.

"We've always been restauranteurs at heart, and we wanted to get back to our roots," says Dena DiOrio of Sammy's, which has focused on catering and facility management for the past decade. "We're excited to bring more energy to a neighborhood that's really thriving."

The opportunity presented itself when the previous tenant, Star Restaurant, closed earlier this year. Sammy's is the caterer for PlayhouseSquare, so the choice was a logical one. The restaurant is being completely redesigned, DiOrio says.

"It will be a completely different storefront," she says. "You'll be able to see through the restaurant to the back wall, which was previously closed in. We're replacing it with a glass wall so visitors can see into the Ohio Theatre lobby."

The restaurant also will have a new entrance off Euclid Avenue, as well as a new layout with a "salon" in the front, bar in the middle and seating area in the back.

DiOrio says that Sammy's aim is to capitalize on PlayhouseSquare's identity as a 24/7 neighborhood and entertainment district whose vitality is fueled by its historic theatres. "We want to make it a destination restaurant."

Sammy's owner Denise Marie Fugo, who is DiOrio's mother, says that the new restaurant will perfectly blend the family's trifecta of experience in restaurants, catering and event management. "Most customers want us to do some kind of concession and banquet management. But we're restaurant people first."

The menu will feature modern American cuisine -- a mixture of small plates, classic Sammy's entrees and new signature entrees. Drink offerings include artisanal wines, microbrews, handcrafted spirits and signature cocktails.

Sammy's at PlayhouseSquare will be located at 1515 Euclid Avenue.

Source: Dena DiOrio
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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