Ollie Hammond’s

Click above to enlarge

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.

Click above to enlarge a very old menu

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.

Click above to enlarge

20 Responses to Ollie Hammond’s

  • Brett Barry says:

    Any chance you can add “Stearns Barbeque” or “Kelbo’s” to your super list?

  • Craig Printup says:

    Yes! Stern’s BBQ! Also Pickle Bill’s BBQ, it was on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica.

  • AMBRO says:

    As a wee tad my family used to got the Wilshire location once or twice a month for dinner. Really good steaks and the best hash. Much later I lived in the neighborhood and it was still really, really good…served a Mid-Wilshire residential and business crowd, also bog weekend crowds on weekends from Rabbi Magnin’s synagogue and the Catholic church across the street. It was a bit west of the Ambassador Hotel and would get all kinds of out-of-towners and crews of films shooting in the area. Sorry to see it go.

  • Katie says:

    My husband and I live in Tempe, AZ and just came upon a reproduction poster with a cowgirl hitchhiking and advertising Ollie Hammond Rancher Restaurateur. Locations listed are Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Sonoita, AZ. We had just traveled to Sonoita a few weeks ago so loved the poster! I could send you a picture if you are interested.

    Thanks, Katie

  • Davi- says:

    In the 60′s we use to go to Ollies after the bars closed… 2:30-4AM. Waiter & waitresses were so accepting of everybody; including all of us…We at the time were rowdy, sort of drunk, dykes who tipped well. Never once were we made to feel any less than the other patrons. We fit in with the other so called night crawlers.

  • Michael Loveland says:

    Ollie Hammond’s did not burn down. There was a fire, but the La Cienega restaurant was already closed. The OH on Wilshire had closed several years before. I ate at both, only once on Wilshire but often at the one on La Cienega. I do believe there was a third open for a while. My references? My father, Jack Loveland, was a manager at Ollie Hammond’s Wilshire before taking the job as General Manager at Chasen’s, where he worked until he passed in 1967.

  • John says:

    Once in a while my parents would take me to dinner at Ollie Hamond’s on La Cienega. I was hooked on their dollar size hot cakes and would order them every time. It was a weird dinner I guess, but, I was a kid. The thing I really enjoyed about the restaurant was that you could watch the cooks cooking. Maybe the first open kitchen of its time?

  • Cherie says:

    I had my Sweet 16 at Ollie Hammonds. Still have the pictures and the menu. We had Yankee Pot Roast. Fabulous. Used to go there after a date on occasion……they were one of the few places open real late.

  • The ChocolateDoctor says:

    When my partner and I were doing restaurant reviews on KABC with Ken and Bob after Elmer Dills left the slot we used to think that Los Angeles was the culinary capitol of the world. We had so many great old traditional restaurants in LA that you could seldom go wrong. Unfortunately most of the old classics being review in this collection have close and are long gone.

    Ollie Hammond’s was one of those great old classics (like Sonoma Joe’s in Northern California). I ate at the La Cienega store only once but was a frequent guest at the Wilshire and Hobart Restaurant. I was working across the street and would go in to grab a burger and fries to go—the fries were fresh-cut and salted in a brown paper bag to absorb most of the grease and keep then fresh and crisp. I think they made their own sweet pickles for the burgers. Later on I got hooked on Ollie Hammond’s for a good steak dinner at a reasonable price day or night.

    Marylyn and Harry Lewis’s Kate Mantilini’s never came close to Ollie Hammond’s. Every now and then I drop in hoping that it might have changed but continue to be disappointed time after time. I guess I have to live with memories of an older California classic–Ollie Hammond’s .

  • AndyS says:

    Did Ollie Hammond’s have a private banquet room in a basement wine cellar? And if not OH, does anybody remember which restaurant along restaurant row did?

  • Bonnie says:

    Yes indeed, Ollie Hammond’s had a private banquet room in a basement wine cellar. As a group we would go there from time to time after work, and take over the downstairs. This was in the seventies.

  • Steve Liddick says:

    Yes, Ollie Hammond’s had a private dining area. You had to go through a hidden panel in a remote corner of the main dining area. It led to a door to the basement. There was a bar and limited seating for diners. The seating was comfortable sofas and stuffed chairs. Not many people knew about the basement area, so it was never crowded. The food was great and I always enjoyed the secret aspect of Ollie’s basement.

  • Brian Wolfe says:

    When I started selling newspapers as a boy at Wilshire & La Cienege in 1962 I used to get fries at Dolores’ but I always wanted to eat at Ollie Hammond’s. 12 years later I began working in Beverly Hills. At least twice a week I would click the door handle, have the automatic door open and invite me to have dinner at Ollie Hammond’s. My Office manager (which became my Wife) I used to sit in a booth facing the grill. Although I love a good standard steak often I would have the chopped steak which was memorably savory.

  • Ron Dominguez says:

    When my brother and I were kids back in the early 60′s our father would take us there for their steak and eggs on Saturday mornings. Those were the best times in my life.

  • Dan Brumer says:

    I remember the booths. Slightly curved, red leather seats and backs with an armrests at the inside. I want one.

  • Patty T says:

    My Dad took me to his hangouts. This restaurant was fun to go to and have silver dollar pancakes. The waiters were so patient with me as a child! I had a hard time making my meal decisions. They would lean over and look me in the eye when they talked to me. I remember those lovely red booths as very roomy. I would ask him to take me to Ollie’s many a time. I remember Dad insisting I use a fork to eat my French fries! White tablecloths made you feel special and formal. I relate this place with private Dad time. Loved it!

  • Sam D says:

    My ex wife and I worked nights in the downtown area shortly after we got married back in the 1960s. We used to go to Ollie Hammond’s on Wilshire a couple times a week after we both got off work. The food was good and not too expensive and, best of all, it was open 24/7.

  • Jeanie says:

    Oh how I loved this place. In the 70′s I worked at the Carolina Lanes’s, in Westchester. After closing the whole place down at 2 in the morning we use to drive to Ollie’s for very early breakfast. Man the place was always packed, the food was also great. A lot of the kids that worked in the club, restrauants showed up there. Was a great place. Norm’s is still up the street.

  • Mark Kraus says:

    What memories! Ate at the Wilshire one back in The 60′s with my parents after one of my father’s Bridge tournaments at the Ambassador Hotel. Also ate at the Beverly Hills one many times as a kid. My cousins had a house on the next block with their back yard directly behind the restaurant parking lot. A great but now obscure place except to locals

  • Aston Banniser says:

    Cheese Bread to die for….ordered something else just to get it..really..

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