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.

56 Responses to Tail o’ the Cock

  • Thomas Pflimlin says:

    Steve, I missed your father playing and singing at the Tail by a couple of years, but I shall always remember Charles LeVere’s superb vocal rendition of “Maybe You’ll Be There” with the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra and Singers. I can hear it now!

  • Kristen says:

    I remember my parents taking me to The Tail on Ventura Blvd. in the 60s when I was a girl. Sometimes my mom would take me for lunch after shopping at The Stardusters! For dessert I would order a puff pastry shaped like a swan swimming in chocolate sauce. Heaven.

  • Terry G. Smith says:

    What wonderful memories. I was introduced to the Tail in 1954, when my high school best friends Dad celebrated his birthday here. By the 60’s, my wife and I went frequently. It was really old LA quality. We took our son there on Christmas Eve one year. We’re about to take our yearly vacation (our 22’nd year) to Monterey. It’s one of the few places where that kind of style still exists.

  • Terry G. Smith says:

    It’s OK if you do publish my email. I’d love to hear from some of the old patrons.

  • Vera Jackson says:

    I remember eating lunch at the Ventura Blvd location back in the early 80’s. That is where I was introduced to the fabulous Monte Cristo and it became a lunchtime favorite of mine, that and a glass of Merlot! Those were the days you could have a drink (or two) at lunch and not lose your job :)

  • Argyle Nelson says:

    My grandfather and grandmother took us there every Christmas Eve from the late 1950’s to mid-60’s. The Tail o’ the Cock always had a great Santa Claus and even reindeer on the roof. As I recall, Santa would take notes and then visit the tables to confirm what you had requested (parents were within ear shot). Great memories.

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