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Sammy McDowell, owner of Sammy's Avenue Eatery in north Minneapolis, suddenly dies

Owner of Sammy's Avenue Eatery dies suddenly
Owner of Sammy's Avenue Eatery dies suddenly 00:44

MINNEAPOLIS — The owner of a popular north Minneapolis sandwich shop died suddenly on Sunday.

Sammy McDowell, who owns Sammy's Avenue Eatery, died after collapsing during church service, family members told WCCO.

Loved ones gathered outside the sandwich shop Sunday evening as they mourned and honored the loss of a beloved community member.  

Sammy McDowell McDowell Family

"Sammy was the one that paid attention the most. He was the one that was always providing, walking me home from school," said McDowell's sister, Angela Michelle McDowell. "And so I just assumed that he was an adult, and so I called him Uncle Sammy until I was 12 years old and found out he was my brother."

Sammy's Avenue Eatery, located at 101 West Broadway Avenue, has become a staple of north Minneapolis since it opened in 2012.

Bishop Richard D Howell Jr., McDowell's pastor for more than 30 years, said on Monday that McDowell "made his transition yesterday during a moment of high praise and worship."

"The very idea in helping and serving others was his thing," Howell said. "It was in him to do that without exception, servicing over and above self, exemplifying the character of Christ across time and place."

In a 2020 interview with CNN, while many businesses were shuttered due to the pandemic, McDowell described his cafe as "a beacon of hope."

WCCO is still working to learn more details about a memorial service for McDowell and what's next for the sandwich shop.

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