Sam’s For Play Express opens in Rohnert Park

Troy Anker, left, and his mom Sam Anker are co-owners of Sam's For Play Express in the Graton Resort and Casino.


Sam’s For Play Café, a casual Santa Rosa restaurant with the quirky name, opened its third eatery in April at the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park. Located inside the food court, it’s called Sam’s For Play Express.

The original Sam’s opened in May 1985 on Sebastopol Road and was followed in September 2000 with a second on Cleveland Avenue. It has garnered a reputation for good service, home style food and fun.

Co-owner Troy Anker, son of founder Sam Anker, said casino managers approached them about filling the space formerly occupied by DK Wings, with a list of specific criteria they were looking for. Sam’s was one of the few businesses in Northern California that met the requirements.

A tasting panel at Sam’s Cleveland Avenue location sealed the deal.

This Sam’s features a slimmed down menu, excluding items like burgers and ribs that are available elsewhere in the food court. Other items simply take too long to cook and aren’t feasible for the faster pace of a food court.

“We looked to use our most popular items combined with items that are quick to serve,” Troy Anker said. “People want food in 45 seconds, but that can be a challenge when you are cooking something like fresh fish ‘n’ chips that takes eight minutes to cook.”

Anker said things have gone fairly smoothly as he figures how to adapt Sam’s brand of customer service to the food court environment.

“It was a bit hectic that first day,” he admitted, “but we are already moving forward with phase one of our planned expansion of the menu.”

Anker said it is all about providing a quality product to the customer and enjoying what you do.

“Whatever anyone does for work, you should enjoy what you do,” he said. “When a customer says thank you, I tell them, ‘No, thank you,’ because we are providing them a service and are happy to do so.”

Sam’s For Play Express, 288 Golf Course Drive West, Rohnert Park, is open 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Rohnert Park Towns Correspondent Nick Walden at