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Sam can stay, says new owner of Brussels South coffee spot

17:06 30/04/2019
Brussels transport users, breathe a sigh of relief. Your favourite horse-zebra is here to stay.

British sandwich chain Prêt à Manger had no idea what it was in for when it announced last month that it was planning to remove the oddball plastic sculpture known as ‘Sam’ from a seat outside its new premises in South Station.

Sam is a very large horse dressed as a zebra, and he sits at one of the tables outside the former Sam’s Café in the station. When travellers first encounter Sam, the usual response is why on earth would a horse be wearing a zebra suit, but he grows on everyone and is now truly beloved of all users passing through the busy travel hub.

Prêt à Manger assured residents that Sam would be “rehomed somewhere safe,” but that didn’t stop the social media campaign and petition against his removal, as well as threats of boycott. Travellers would not let go of Sam without a fight.

“What has Sam ever done to Prêt?” Bulletin reader JGill asked when the news broke. “When my husband first came to Brussels nearly six years ago, and I came to visit him, we used to rendezvous by Sam. When I came to live in Brussels, I still used Sam as a beacon for friends coming to visit.”

‘Outraged’

“As a Sam, I am totally outraged by this removal of my namesake,” said SamTheBelgian. “I kindly inform Prêt that I expect this nobly named steed to stay exactly where it is.”

On the petition page at Change.org, meanwhile, which had gathered more than 1,100 signatures, signer Jill McArdle noted without hesitation that “this horse dressed like a zebra is the only thing keeping the EU together”.

Things heated up in Sam campaign headquarters when it was noted last Thursday that he was gone. Calls were made, and Jon Stone, the Brussels correspondent for The Independent, broke the good news: Prêt à Manger has caved. While Sam is missing for now, he’ll be back where he belongs when the Prêt outlet opens in May.

“We’ve listened to feedback,” Michael Haley, Partnerships Managing Director at Prêt told Stone, “and I’m really pleased to announce that Sam the horse-zebra will join the Prêt team at Gare du Midi station, helping to welcome new customers to the shop.”

Photo: Sam is so quiet, you hardly know he’s there
©Lynton Jones/Twitter

Written by Lisa Bradshaw