As with any entrepreneurial venture, opening a restaurant requires a huge leap of faith. And while there is no guarantee, the odds for success in the notoriously challenging food industry are big-time enhanced when a business owner possesses the perfect trifecta of experience, creativity, and vision. Such is the case with Sam Kirk, who in the short span of 6 years has opened two beloved restaurants in Jersey City.
So. First came Sam a.m., a daytime café opened in 2013 on a quiet residential street in Paulus Hook. Like many of our neighbors, we instantly flocked to this cozy daytime spot to connect and chat while devouring delicious Southern-inspired comfort food classics, with creative culinary upgrades courtesy of Sam’s years in the NYC restaurant industry and the spectacular talents of Executive Chef Francis Samu.
Next up was Sam a.m.’s foray into dinner service in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood. Opened in 2017 as the OAK on Pine, Sam changed the name to Sam a.m. in 2019. While the dinner dishes on offer remained the same, the name change came with some enhancements – a brunch menu and a more relaxed dinner service that reinforced his vision on how his restaurants can play a part in improving and enhancing the neighborhoods in which they reside. We appreciate everything Sam has brought to the City – delicious food, great meeting spots, and a chance for folks to meet and eat off the congested commercial grids. A couple of snippets from chatting with Sam;
Hi Sam! In a City full of amazing restaurants, you’ve filled this gap we didn’t even know existed. Meaning more restaurants directly located in neighborhoods that needed and wanted them.
“Thank you. Yes, that was the mission, going into neighborhoods to quietly improve the quality of life for the residents where they actually live. It’s about celebrating rituals centered around mealtime. We felt there was a real need for that here in the City, as there is so much limited space in general. That sometimes can extend to a lack of space in the kitchen or living room to gather together in our homes and talk to each other over the table. We wanted to go right into the neighborhoods and be an extension of the home.”
You’ve done that so well. How has it been as a business owner, opening restaurants here in JC that are off the traditional path?
“It has been a fantastic experience and exactly what we set out to do. And to have the community rooting for us and wanting us to succeed means everything. We have a shared desire to have the community thrive and grow and their support has been so incredible. Other business owners have also been so helpful and it all just feeds back into what we all want. Home, community, conversation over good food with good neighbors.”
Sam a.m. PAULUS HOOK, 112 Morris St, 201-432-2233
Monday – Friday, 6:30 am – 3:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday, 8:00 am – 3:30 pm
Sam a.m. BERGEN – LAFAYETTE, 196 Pine Street , 201-432-2304
Wednesday – Sunday BRUNCH 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday – Saturday Dinner – 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm