Through his wide array of retail, bartending, and restaurant jobs, J. Sam Daniels had always found one consistent factor of work to be his absolute favorite: people.
His love of people in all forms—interacting with, helping, serving—followed him from a childhood spent with customers between the aisles of his parent’s Hallmark shops to an adulthood spent searching for the best profession to foster that love. In March of 2013, Daniels ended that search. With the support of his wife, Tanya, he combined his retail experience with the joy he always felt in the food industry and opened his own restaurant, J. Sam’s. Determined to give his customers a great experience, Daniels has become a beloved hands-on owner that makes it a point to seek out what his staff and patrons need most.
It’s who I am,” says Daniels at the mention of his dedication. “I love to make people happy. It makes me happy to bring happiness to others. If you call my restaurant and the voicemail picks up, you’ll hear a message that says, ‘If you need anything, call J. Sam on his cell phone 704-904-6891.
Sam’s has indeed taken that mantra to heart, and is not afraid to change policy or take the advice of its patrons in order to improve its service, especially when working with private events. J. Sam’s can host parties of up to 200 people, and never charges minimums or booking fees. Their signature cocktails, catered wine list, and gourmet food will always be available, no matter the group size.
But Daniels knew he could do more. Loving people meant loving their community, and what better way to support that community than to support the artists that represent it? Along with hosting live music featuring local bands, Daniels also created HD Artists’ Gallery. Located within J. Sam’s, HD Artists’ Gallery hosts art shows every other month for regional and Charlotte-based artists, such as Victoria Shweizer, David Carter, and Darron Williams.
“The whole concept of J. Sam’s,” says Daniels, “was to help others while helping ourselves. I wanted to help local farmers and I wanted to help local artists. If they want to get into a gallery, they have to prove that they’ve been able to sell their work. But to sell their work, they have to be in a gallery.”
This frustrating loop left Daniels with the idea that by creating a full-fledged art gallery supported by his restaurant, he would be able to break that cycle and feature new talent.
“It’s kind of like one of those situations that’s like which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Well, I consider myself the egg. I’m able to give these artists an opportunity to sell their work, and hopefully I can get them into the bigger galleries.”
With the personality and devotion of their owner embedded into them, both J. Sam’s and HD Artists’ Gallery will likely be bringing great food and beautiful artwork to the Charlotte area for years to come.