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A Super Start

Mean Street Pizza sold, new owner to host Super Bowl party

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Left to right, Alyssa, Avian, Tyler, Terrence and Tyrelle Samuel have called West Linn home for 15 years. Now they are opening their own pizza place.Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Chael Sonnen’s Mean Street Pizza restaurant will soon operate under a different name — and a new owner.

West Linn resident Terrence Samuel agreed in December to purchase the property from Sonnen and will rename the restaurant Island Sam’s.

Though the sale has yet to be finalized, Samuel is already working on renovating the space and upgrading the menu. To kick off the new era at 21700 Salamo Road, Samuel will host a Super Bowl party Sunday.

Samuel hopes to engage a large portion of the community at the party, which is free to enter. Outside the restaurant will be a large heated tent with at least one 10 foot by 10 foot projection screen to show the big game.

“The tent can seat about 250 strong,” Samuel said. “There will be activities for the kids, vendors will give out free stuff — we want it to be more of a community feel.”

For adults, the tent will also be outfitted with a full bar and various food items.

“It’s just going to be a cool, clean, fun day,” Samuel said, “watching the (Seattle) Seahawks kick some butt, hopefully.”

The Super Bowl party will encapsulate what Samuel, a 15-year West Linn resident, wants to bring to the new restaurant on a daily basis: a “warm, inviting” community atmosphere that attracts families with children.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jaquelyn Cresap puts together a pizza.

“It’s about giving the community a product I can stand behind, and that they can accept and be proud of being here,” Samuel said. “To come to a restaurant and enjoy a meal with their kids.”

To that end, Samuel will line the walls with booths to create more of a communal atmosphere. He also plans to create a mural on the wall to commemorate local sports teams and will name customized pizzas after coaches. Compare that to Mean Street’s pizza with fight terms — Ground & Pound, Southpaw, Tap Out and Knockout.

“I’ve raised three kids here,” Samuel said. “The biggest thing for me and the most appreciation I have for this community is for the mentors, the coaches, the love and the family, the togetherness we share in everything — sports and life.”

As for the food itself, Samuel plans to improve the quality of the restaurant’s pizza while also adding new items to the menu — pulled pork, crab cakes, sandwiches, hummus plates and jerk chicken, among others.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jaquelyn Cresap pours one of the 14 beers on tap at the restaurant.

Helping Samuel — a first time restaurant owner — as he navigates the process is Jeff Frank.

He is a mutual friend between Samuel and Sonnen and owns four local Pizanos Pizza restaurants.

“It couldn’t occur without him,” Samuel said. “He has been the mentor, muscle and brains behind the whole thing.”

Sonnen, who in Ultimate Fighting Championship interviews has described himself as a gangster from the “mean streets of West Linn,” opened Mean Street Pizza with business partner Lee Gamble in spring 2012.

In February 2013, Sonnen sued Gamble for $42,600 on claims of embezzlement, an unpaid loan and overdue rent.

Sonnen accused Gamble of embezzling $20,000 from Mean Street Pizza, borrowing $10,000 without paying it back and neglecting to pay thousands of dollars in rent for a home Sonnen owns in West Linn.

He also wanted to oust Gamble from their company.

Gamble, in turn, filed a countersuit seeking $400,000 from Sonnen for wage reimbursement, his stake in their business and damage to his reputation and career.

The case was settled in the Clackamas County Circuit Court in December.

Details of the settlement were unavailable.

Super Bowl Party Info:

What: Island Sam's Super Bowl Party

When: Noon on Sunday

Where: 21700 Salamo Road

Cost: Free to enter, drinks and food vary

By Patrick Malee
503-636-1281, ext. 106
email: pmalee@westlinntidings.com
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