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Sam’s BBQ

“The mentality my dad had was, if you want it, you’ve got to make it happen,” remembers Sam Carlino, owner of Sam’s BBQ.

And Carlino’s family has been making things happen in Silicon Valley for three-quarters of a century. In the 1930s, they had a fruit stand on Monterey Highway. Later, his dad and uncle owned Time Market for 30 years. Sam had to learn the family work ethic before he learned the family business. When he was 18, he was working a sausage stand at the flea market with his dad.

“On Friday nights, my buddies were out partying,” he says, “and I was grinding meat and stuffing sausages. It was good work experience as a kid.” In 1992, while Sam was working as a meat cutter at Zanotto’s market, all of that hard work paid off when his father suggested they open a restaurant together.

“My dad had a couple recipes, baby back ribs and salsa chicken. I told him, ‘We need more than that,’” says Carlino.

Luckily, Sam had been schooling himself, and he threw himself into creating Sam’s BBQ. He worked on every part of the business, most importantly choosing the highest-quality meats and preparing them himself. When they started, they didn’t even have a smoker. “It took a long time to get where we are now,” he says.

The techniques and recipes have evolved, and Sam’s seems to win awards every year as a Silicon Valley favorite. Carlino can now be seen on Channel 15’s weekly Wednesday night cooking show, “Who’s Cookin’.”

And after focusing for years on making the business a success, Carlino finally felt he could start a family of his own—his daughters are 3 and 5.

His father passed away six years ago, but the legacy of the work they did together lives on in his son’s restaurant.

“He taught me everything,” says Carlino.