The building that now houses Black Bear Diner was a Sambo's restaurant in the 1970s. At the time there was a coffee counter that ran from the entrance to the north wall with an open window behind where you could see the cooks. There were swivel chairs at the coffee counter, and booths along the windows. Above the coffee counter was a lighted set of panels that showed the story of little Sambo who outsmarted the tiger and turned him into butter for his pancakes.

Although the restaurant's art depicted a light-skinned "Sambo", the character was more typically associated with racially insensitive caricatures in the past. Many consider the name to be a slur to this day, and growing controversy was in part what led to the restaurant chain's decline.

Wikipedia article