On La Cienega, roughly across the street from where Lawry’s is now situated, Ollie Hammond’s was a great place to get a real meal at any hour of the day…at least until the place burned down. When Kate Mantilini’s over at Wilshire and Doheny opened up, it originally announced that it would emulate Ollie Hammond’s with a similar menu and 24 hour service. Then it didn’t do either and I’m still feeling the disappointment.
I really liked Ollie Hammond’s. Its prime rib was great…and I always thought it took guts to have prime rib on your menu when you’re that close to Lawry’s. The soup du jour seemed to always be a tasty tomato concoction with ground beef and pasta noodles that people informally but not inaccurately called “spaghetti soup.” On Sundays, they served a corned beef hash that still has folks salivating.
Usually if you go into a restaurant at 3 AM, your choices are slim. The guy in the kitchen knows how to make sandwiches, eggs, hamburgers and not much else. If there is anything else, he’s probably reheating something cooked by the day or evening chef. This was not the case at Ollie Hammond’s. No matter what the hour, you had a wide range of freshly-prepared options, sometimes even including a baked potato. Try getting a baked potato at any other restaurant in the middle of the night.
The other thing I remember about Ollie Hammond’s is that they had a waiter who was a dead ringer for actor Bill Bixby. This was not just my opinion. Everyone mentioned it and he once told my date and me that some patrons refused to believe he was not that guy researching a role or picking up a few bucks between series or something of the sort. He said that Bill Bixby had come by a few times and gotten very spooked by the resemblance. I always wondered if anyone who wrote on any of the many shows in which Mr. Bixby starred ever thought to whip up an “evil twin” episode or something of the sort and to hire this waiter to play whichever role Bixby wasn’t playing at the moment.
Below are some unassembled matchbook covers, one from when Ollie Hammond’s had three locations in town. Until someone sent me this one, I only knew about the one on La Cienega. The one on Wilshire would have been near the Ambassador Hotel. The one at Third and Fairfax would have been very convenient to me and I might be there right now having a steak or that great hash.