When Sammy Balatsias opened his eponymous restaurant in 2005, many people thought he was crazy to choose Belmont.
But the community readily welcomed the neighborhood pub and it grew popular with a positive, high-energy vibe and a robust following. By 2016, Balatsias was ready to get out of the hospitality business and had no trouble attracting interested parties wanting to buy the in-demand restaurant.
John Bailey, co-owner of McAdenville Table & Market, won him over with a promise that the place would remain very much the same.
“I told him that he could come in three years from then and it would still look the same,” said Bailey. “I was not about to change up an extremely successful business that Sammy had built. And actually now he and I are now good friends.”
Bailey has kept his promise. Sammy’s is very much the same – with small tweaks to the menu every so often.
He also kept much of the same staff. Bartender and manager Jessica Bradley stayed with the restaurant. She had been with Sammy’s for several years before Bailey took over. She works the bar, automatically pouring favorite drinks for regulars and meeting new customers with comfortable ease.
“I hate to say that it’s like ‘Cheers,’” she said, referencing the 1980s sitcom. “But it’s truly a neighborhood pub where we all know each other.”
Sammy’s is known for its service, so customers often walk there and are welcome to bring their kids.
“We really walk a razor’s edge between a bar and a family restaurant,” Bailey explained.
Sammy’s menu is varied and accessible, with healthy and splurge items. For the latter, try the OMG burger, which eats like a meaty reuben with a half-pound of never-frozen Angus beef topped with corned beef, crispy bacon, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on a warm brioche with thousand island dressing.
But the chef salad, Greek salad, Cobb salad and turkey burger are also sure to please. There are also a variety of sides to choose from, ranging from baked beans to black-bean-and-corn salad to fried okra.
“Oh, and our fried pickles are the spears,” said Bailey.
The menu is filled with homemade goodness that shines through in all the dishes. The dressings, sauces and aioli are made in-house, not to mention the chicken salad, coleslaw, tuna salad, pasta salad, marinades and more.
Sammy’s also sells several items by the pound, including the chicken and tuna salads, for customers to take home.
The coffee is from Camp Coffee Roasters in Blowing Rock, and will not disappoint.
Gluten-free buns are also available to sub out for any sandwich. Online ordering and takeout also are offered.
The bar is the heart of the space and fills up early, but doesn’t feel crowded. There are 37 beer along with a wide variety of bottled options.
The bar also serves mixed drinks, speciality drinks and has a wine list. For $30, beer lovers can join the Brew Crew, which includes a t-shirt, free appetizer and a beer. When Brew Crew members try 100 different beers – over time, of course – they’re names go on the “Wall of Foam.”
Sammy’s is involved with the community, hosting Celebrity Chef nights to raise money for charities. They have also partnered with South Point High School for several fundraisers. Another plus is there is always plenty of parking in busy Belmont, with a lot right behind the restaurant.
The pub was recently nominated in 11 food categories for Best of Gaston awards. That’s a true testament to the outstanding food, but the real magic is in the atmosphere.
“Our customers have a true sense of belonging when they step into Sammy’s,” said Bailey.