Uncle Sam's Sheffield: Famous Ecclesall Road restaurant still 'the original and the best'

It's a Sheffield institution that's been serving up quarter pounders, fries, and a side order of nostalgia for over 52 years.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

And whilst it may have a while to go to ketchup... sorry...with 56-year-old city restaurant Ashoka, what keeps customers flocking back to Ecclesall Road's second-oldest eaterie, Uncle Sam's?

Manager Nicola Cawthorne, whose mum and dad Susan and Clive Crossland bought 'the original and the best' American diner in 1984, said its unchanging sameness was key to its appeal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The family celebrate 40 years at Uncle Sam's next year and don't plan on doing anything to mess with a clearly winning formula.

Uncle Sam's is an institution in SheffieldUncle Sam's is an institution in Sheffield
Uncle Sam's is an institution in Sheffield

“Mum and dad still work here aged 72 and 78,” she said. “Dad will go in the kitchen if he needs to and mum still waitresses five days a week. I'm 51 and I always say I'll retire before they do.

“It's just the same as it always was, nothing has changed, and that's the way customers seem to like it.”

Sue was a rent collector, and Clive an electrician, when they bought the restaurant with no prior catering or hospitality experience in 1984. It was already a going concern, having opened on July 4, 1971, but neither of them had done anything like it before.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Nicola recalled: “I was about 12 when dad came home from the pub one night and said, 'Sue, I've bought a restaurant'. I'm sure she wanted to kill him! But the staff were here, and mum worked every day, and they added the bar and mum took over the running of the restaurant, and it was long, hard hours. But they did it.”

Ruby Harrison and owner Sue Crossland at Uncle Sam'sRuby Harrison and owner Sue Crossland at Uncle Sam's
Ruby Harrison and owner Sue Crossland at Uncle Sam's

Now, as then, the most popular order, said Nicola, is a cheeseburger, followed closely by cheeseburger with bacon.

“It's all in the white cheese sauce,” she said.

Favourite drinks are a Coke float with full sugar Coke, or a pint of Budweiser on draught, all enjoyed beneath the famous model train, chugging around its track, high on the walls.

One thing did change, in 2010, when sesame seed buns were ditched in favour of plain to prevent allergy risk in the kitchen.

Uncle Sam's on Ecclesall Road has been trading for 52 yearsUncle Sam's on Ecclesall Road has been trading for 52 years
Uncle Sam's on Ecclesall Road has been trading for 52 years
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We still call it sesamegate,” said Nicola, who started working at the restaurant when she was 15, and whose sister-in-law Sarah has been there 16 years.

“People definitely weren't happy about that. And we had complaints too when we stopped having the relish trays because of a change of supplier.

“But we still get our ice cream from Joe's Ices in Beighton, just like we always have, and regular returning customers are probably our main client base.

Dan Walker comes in regularly with his family and he brought his partner Nadiya Bychkova here when he was in Strictly. We've had Paul Heaton from the Housemartins and other celebrities too.

Uncle Sam's has been owned by the same family for nearly 40 yearsUncle Sam's has been owned by the same family for nearly 40 years
Uncle Sam's has been owned by the same family for nearly 40 years
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It's lovely. We have people who started coming here when they were little and now they bring their own kids.

“Even if we wanted to change anything I don't think we could. People wouldn't let us.”

Boxer Prince Naseem Hamed, former Blades captain Billy Sharp, musician Richard Hawley and Def Leppard band members have all dined at Uncle Sam’s.

Related topics: