PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — The Seacoast has lost a restaurant and community icon. Restaurateur and philanthropist Simeon “Sam” Peter Jarvis died Sunday at the age of 86.

“Sam is an icon of the community,” said William Mouflouze, local Realtor and partner of Jarvis’ daughter Jill. “He was one of the last true gentlemen and a very rare person. He was much more than just a restaurateur. You can talk for hours about all of the things he did for this community.”

Jarvis opened his popular The Metro restaurant on High Street in the mid-1970s and operated it until 2006. The Jarvis family, including father Peter Jarvis and uncle Andrew Jarvis, was a restaurant dynasty, operating restaurants in the city since 1914, including Jarvis Tea Room on Congress Street, now Rudi’s Market Square, only the second restaurant to be in that space in almost 100 years.

Sam and his brother Harry Jarvis owned and operated Jarvis Cafeteria and The Metro, which replaced a British-style pub Jarvis opened after an inspirational trip to London. It was after another trip across the pond, this time to France, that they opened The Metro.

“I went to France and that’s how The Metro came about. I fell in love with Paris, the feel, the Art Nouveau. I thought Portsmouth was ready for something more sophisticated,” said Jarvis in a 2015 Portsmouth Herald article. The phrase “Meet me at The Metro” was born and many did indeed meet there for drinks, live music and great food as well as Jarvis’ impeccable hospitality.

As Portsmouth’s Renee Plummer aptly describes him, “Elegant, graceful, intelligent, Sam Jarvis was Portsmouth’s Fred Astaire and my trusted friend.”

Jarvis was well-known for his service to the community, including through his annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Metro for those in need, his work with Pro Portsmouth and with the Common Table at St. John’s Church. He was an essential part of the growth of Portsmouth’s dining scene.

Longtime Seacoast chef Mark Segal said Jarvis’ passing was “very sad news to the Portsmouth community as a whole. But particularly sad for the hospitality community. He was a leader, a pioneer, and a part of the bedrock of our Seacoast dining scene. His legacy and memory will live on with the vibrancy with which he lived his life. Rest up, Sam. We will carry your torch of love, kindness and respect.”

Jarvis was also a mentor to restaurateur Keith Barringer, who he was chosen to open Rudi’s Portsmouth in the former The Metro space, keeping much of the legacy of hospitality and some of the traditions intact. Jarvis continued to advise Barringer during his retirement and the two became friends.

“This is a sad day for me and a true loss to the community,” Barringer said. “Sam Jarvis was a true gentleman. It was a pleasure to get to know him over the years. I am grateful for the time we spent together. I will miss my friend.”

Jarvis’ contribution to the restaurant community was recognized by the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association with a lifetime achievement award and the exclusive and prestigious international gastronomic society Chaine des Rotisseurs in 2011. As he said at the time of his induction, “I really very much appreciate this honor. It’s in the spirit of hospitality and we’ve all worked very hard over the years. I’m delighted to see things like this happening in Portsmouth for the hospitality industry and there’s nowhere to go but better We’re admired now for our restaurants and tomorrow will bring even better things. For me it was all a labor of love.”

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