Tail o’ the Cock

The photo above is of the Tail o’ the Cock at 44 S. La Cienega Boulevard, aka “Restaurant Row.”  There was another at 12950 Ventura Boulevard — both popular dinner joints famous for their America menus (steak, prime rib, etc.) and bar scene.  The Tail o’ the Cock claimed to be the first place in Los Angeles to serve Margaritas and it may well have been, I don’t know.

As one might gather from the name, the big selling point at Tail o’ the Cock wasn’t the food so much as the cocktails.  It was a popular place for people to meet for drinks, especially late in the afternoon.  An awful lot of Hollywood deals were consummated there over martinis.  It was where a voice actress named June Foray met with two animation producers — Jay Ward and Bill Scott — and they told her they wanted her to play a new character named Rocky the Flying Squirrel.  And there were probably less important roles cast there involving big Academy Award productions.

I ate once at the one on Ventura.  I recall the food being satisfactory but not much more.  I recall the room being somewhat dark and depressing.  I recall the service being quite friendly and efficient.  It was the kind of place where the servers and the bartenders had been there for a decade or more and had no intention of going anywhere else.  Then the two places closed down, one after the other.

Owner-founder Sheldon A. (Mac) McHenry sold the one on La Cienega in 1982 and it closed in 1985.  There’s an office building there now though it does have an Indian restaurant on the ground floor.

The one in the Valley closed a few days after New Year’s, 1987.  It was razed and a shopping mall was built in its place.  A lot of people still remember the two restaurants fondly.

27 Responses to Tail o’ the Cock

  • Kathie says:

    I ate at the one on La Cienega once as a very young lady (early 70’s). I remember a lovely place with very good food. It was also the first restaurant where I encountered an attendant in the ladies’ room!!

  • Stewart Ruskin says:

    I remember the restaurant on La Cienega, I was there only once but as a child growing up in Los Angeles , remember their Christmas decorations. The roof was covered with fake snow and Santa and the reindeers strung up on the roof. I can still see the beautiful display !

  • Carol Bell (Schroeder) says:

    I ate at the Tail o’ the Cock on my prom night in 1964 with Bob Mosher III. I also ate at the one on La Cienega a few years later twice. I loved eating there. I always ordered steak and Lobster. Great Place. My date for the Prom’s parents use to eat there all the time. Thel one in the Valley.

  • gary ritter anderson says:

    My father worked at both restaurants for many years as the manager. I remember he was never home for dinner on holidays because he was always at work. I also remember having wonderful steak sandwiches for lunch along with a “shirley temple” or a “sputnik” to drink. My brother and I spent a whole day packing the gift bags for celebrating New Year’s Eve at the restaurant. Pink bags for the ladies and brown bags for the men; filled with streamers, hats, balloons and noise makers. Parking lot attendants, hat check room, cigarette girls, tables with white tableclothes, sugar cubes and breadsticks…all a thing of the past, but great memories growing up.

  • demetris brown says:

    I worked there as a busboy 1980-1982. To this day, THE BEST JOB I EVER HAD!!! Great food and you would always leave work with money. In high school having $10-30 a week was like the lottery! My dad was the head waiter. Lots of characters worked there. And the celebrities all around. I still have my Cheryl Ladd autograph! And 30 years later restaurant service is a joke at best. With “order takers” and “food food runners” whatever!!! My dad took me to Ollie Hammonds basement area when I was a kid and the Beverly Hills Cafe on the corner of La Cienega and Wilshire. Oh, and the address of the BH Tail was 477 South LaCienega. I know because I had to write it on my school emergency card for 12 years! Directly across the street was Fatburger and up LaCienega I remember they were constructing some shopping center, it turned out to be the Beverly Center!! I went in there before all the stores were opened! I was a teenager working around grown men and women and I held my own! It was no picnic, I still had to catch the RTD to and from work although my father worked there! He was not a ride giver! It made a man out of me and I thank him to this day for making me find my own way to and from work! It was also my introduction to Chateaubriand! It was $25 for two and I thought that was outrageous. And when someone would order it I would always hang around to see it cut and served for two. The ultimate date dinner! I havent found Chateaubriand for two in LA yet other than a porterhouse for two. In Vegas Chateaubriand for two goes for $125!!!

  • Tim says:

    I recently went to my local family owned deli (Henry’s in Downey) and came across an award on the wall. It was for a drink competition that was won by a gentlemen bartender in 1963 at the Tail o’ the Cock.

  • Don West says:

    I’ll always recall the one on Ventura Bl as my family would go there from time to time. My father passed away when I was a child, and one of the memories I have of him is a night out to eat at this place….

  • Jeff Zauderer says:

    here’s a link to a photo of Lon Chaney Jr, Tor Johnson, and Bela Lugosi at the Tail o’ the Cock…the menu in the foreground has the restaurant name, and I found your site googling that…thanks http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=557060494315294&set=a.118967638124584.13914.111378268883521&type=1&theater

  • Page says:

    I remember going to this restaurant with my mother in the late 60’s. The food was great and I always felt so special hanging out with the sophisticated grown ups. I remember they had black waiters and one waiter would stand by our table throughout the meal just in case we needed anything. Does anyone remember that?

  • debbie doherty says:

    my father, pat doherty, was the manager at the valley “Tail of the Cock” FOREVER! all the writers, and actors made their appearances over the years…. all the families that loved that warm, clubby feel,…. personal attention, and cool vibe were adored by my father…. and it was recipricated…. soooo many greats enjoyed the Tail……. my father just passed recently……. and thank you to all who made that magic part of his life sooooo rich….. they can’t take that marvelous history from us that were so lucky to be a part of the “Tales of the Tail”……..

  • Rock says:

    There is an episode of CHiPs where it is in the background. Someone steals a car from the valet area in front. you can clearly see the building and it’s sign.
    Season 1 Episode 10. What memories.

  • jimmy says:

    Lived in Sherman Oaks in the ’70s used to eat at the Ventura Blvd restaurant often. Loved the Sunday morning Prime Rib Hash and fresh baked blueberry muffins. And the waiters in red waistcoats. The food, the service, the old Hollywood ambiance. I still tell people about The Tail…..

  • Kandis says:

    Used to eat there all the time as a kid in the 60s. My father was a singer and knew all the piano players in town. We’d have dinner and then hang out at the piano bar and sing our hearts out! They served the world’s best Egg’s Benedict for brunch. Miss the ‘Tail’..

  • EG says:

    I remember going for dinner in my late teens with my mother and her friend. The room we dined had five or six tables. It was dark, intimate and had a big beautiful fireplace. The service was suberb. I asked our friend about the ladies room. The waiter pulled my chair back, offered his arm, I took his elbow and he escorted me to the ladies room. However, I was terribly embarressed because I forgot my purse and was unable to leave anything for the attendant but she was so sweetly gracious about it. In response to above question from Page, he wasn’t black. Handsome Latino. I loved it and was sad to see the news broadcasting the closure.

  • Mike says:

    Had my first big time date there in 1959, just before going away to college.

  • Charles Sheen says:

    My next door neighbor was the head waiter at the LaCienega location.They were a classy elderly couple,and held backyard parties all the time.Anyways when he got his promotion he bought a brand new 1965 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon,he had to have it custom ordered because the management didnt want the customers to see the woodgrain in the parking lot,so Mr Lewis had it ordered in all black with white wood molding…Mrs Lewis still has the wagon with its 26000 miles(the location was only 3 miles or so from our pico and fairfax house).Mr.Lewis passed away in 95 or so but he would always talk about his time here.

  • Tony Benedict says:

    Tail of the Cock on Ventura was the after work watering hole for comedy writers from Hanna-Barbera and other shows in the early sixties. Alan Dinehart, Flintstone Producer, was the unofficial host, moderator and snappy comeback artist supreme. The gathering was a relentless string of can you top this one liners. A cute little hostess and I caught each other’s eye and haven’t let go after more than thirty years of marrige. We will never forget the “Tail”.

  • Harry Gooch says:

    I was a waiter at the Tail. I started in 1969 and after a couple of years I was made night captain. At LaCienega Restaurant I was approached by Mr. McHenry to go to the valley Tail as head waiter over the waiters and bus boys. I was there until the restaurant closed. Pat Doherty was the manager at the door. The restaurant service was impeccable. If anyone says the opposite, they are wrong. Jack Lynch was the over seer of all his restaurants.

  • Anne Benedict says:

    I worked as a hostess at the Valley Tail 69-71. The wonderful Pat Dougherty was my manager. To this day I have never had a more enjoyable job. What a great atmosphere, created by Pat, and enjoyed by everyone who worked there. Wonderful hostess, Ann Fox, fantastic waiters, Mr. Brewster who used to work on the trains, Shaw, James. Alan Dinehart, Flintstones Producer, and many other comedy writers kept me laughing. Alan introduced me to Tony Benedict at the Tail. Tony and I went to the last night at the Tail with other friends and toasted all of us.

  • Allen Cunningham says:

    I grew up in Sherman Oaks and Studio City in the 50’s and 60’s. My dad was in the movie business and made good money, but the Tail an Sportsmen’s Lodge on Ventura were where the ‘Rich folks’ went and they wer a little bit out of our reach, but I drove by on my bike every day!

    We went mostly to Otto’s Pink Pig

  • omar cunningham says:

    My grandmother, Ora Davis (nee’ Pedesclaux) worked there in the 50’s/60’s. We have a group picture of her and all of the other waitresses and the owner in the parking lot. =)

  • Mike Kious says:

    I was discharged from the Navy in the early 70s (honorably, of course) and met my dad who happened to be in LA with clients from Las Cruces for the closing of a municipal bond deal. My wife and I joined the group and my dad took us all to Tail o’ the Cock where we had a great time with great food.

  • Jim Fellows says:

    And Ventura had Johnny Guarneri on the piano!

  • Derek Coller says:

    I would very much like to hear from anyone with memories of Johnny Guarnieri at the Tail o’ The Cock.

  • george wallace says:

    OMG. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, one of the few restaurants open til 4am. All the comedians and stars would frequent this fantastic beautiful eatery with a fireplace. We were young comedians then with low funds. But, once per week we’d go there after the comedy store and Improv closed. What a great place with valet parking. My car was so old they’d tip me. Told me to keep the oil and change the car. Those were the days. Oh yeah…we had lunch at Schwab’s Drug Store at Sunset and Crescent Heights.

  • Tony Fiore says:

    Just wanted to say my Dad George Fiore was one of the Chief’s at the Tail “O” the Cock at the Valley location from 1949 to 1972. Sure miss it..

  • Bob Brown says:

    My parents and I had a tradition — every week starting about 1954 through the mid-1970s, we had Sunday dinner (5:15pm) at Tail of the Cock on LaCienega. We were such regulars that we had our own booth (#79) which was adjacent to the bar/lounge. Johnnie Clarey was the head bartender and Jim and Harry were the guest greeters (as I recall Johnnie Mack Brown also worked there too on occasion at the front desk). The servers were all African American as were the ‘red coats’ (dining room supervisors — I remember Oliver and Perry as two of the best). Christmas was a very special time at the restaurant — well decorated inside and out with a live Santa Claus up on the roof looking out over the front parking lot to the street. Food and service was excellent — swordfish and fried chicken were my favorites. There was a pond in the ‘garden room’ where we used to toss coins and make a wish. Lots of Hollywood types were always on the scene — don’t think there are any restaurants like it anymore.

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