February 26, 1995 in City

Infamous Roadhouse Up For Sale

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

Ah, if only the battlescarred, red walls and stained shag carpet inside this old green house could speak.

They’d probably say things like:

“Hide the dope, man, it’s the cops!”

“Get that gun outta my face, fool.”

“Hey, baby, wanna buy a ride on my love train.”

“More cornbread, commissioner?”

“If these walls could talk, they’d be testifying in court,” says Bob Glatzer, the agent for one of Spokane’s most colorful and notorious chunks of real estate.

Sam’s Pit is for sale.

For a mere $80,000, you can own the infamous roadhouse at E528 Second where people of every color, creed and career (be it legal or not) mingled to munch soul food and party away the night.

The price - just like many of the women who frequented Sam’s - is negotiable.

“It breaks my heart to sell,” laments Sam’s 68-year-old owner, Cassk Thomas. “It’s like I lost my mother or something.”

In and out of trouble for decades, Sam’s Pit was shut down for good in 1993 after raiding cops found drugs and illegal liquor sales.

Just as he did when Sam’s was closed for similar reasons in 1987, Cassk claims he never saw any booze or drugs being peddled.

“I don’t use it, I never used it,” says Cassk of cocaine. “In the last 10 years, I didn’t even know what color it was.

“I probably swept a lot of it off the floor and never knew it.”

Adding to the man’s troubles, the state Department of Labor and Industries in December ordered Cassk to pay $199,000 for fraudulently receiving 11 years’ worth of disability checks.

Other than mixing secret-formula barbecue sauce that would “make your shoe leather taste good,” Cassk claims he never worked at Sam’s while he owned it. Yeah, right.

“You wouldn’t think one man could have such bad luck,” he adds mournfully.

As dubious as his denials are, Cassk is an entertaining, likable man. He has a fondness for cowboy boots and bright satin western shirts with dangling white fringe.

He tells great stories about the characters who have relied on Sam’s for a hot plate of ribs and some excitement.

The 70-year-old building isn’t much to look at. But in its glory days, Sam’s attracted stars like Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, the Harlem Globetrotters and other entertainers who wandered there after they performed.

More recently, Sam’s became known as the late-night hangout of Steve Hasson. The Spokane County commissioner, testifying in behalf of Cassk, praised Sam’s as his favorite place to snack on cornbread after a lengthy commission meeting.

Unfortunately, Sam’s also became a magnet that attracted hookers, pimps, crack dealers, gang bangers and an assortment of other pistol-packing human vultures.

“I stepped in front of a lot of guns over the years,” concedes Cassk, who bought the roadhouse after the 1977 death of owner Sam Willis.

Sam’s reputation may be priceless, but the commercial property may be worth more without the buildings.

The main house has gone to seed since the closure. There is water damage in some of the ceilings and the old linoleum floors are cracked and faded.

The disco Rock-Ola jukebox still works well enough to blare out Clarence Carter’s little-known song, “G Spot.”

The new owner also gets a pool table, the barbecue pit, some cafe booths and several tacky velvet paintings of women in various naked poses.

“Looking at the for-sale signs makes me feel like the world has gone out from under me,” says Cassk. “But I’ll tell you this, nobody will ever forget this place.

“There’ll never be another Sam’s Pit.”

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus