The Hungry Tiger

The Hungry Tiger was a chain of seafood restaurants around Southern California.  At one point, there were forty-one of them, including one in Westwood Village, another one on Sepulveda near LAX, and yet another on La Brea just South of Hollywood Boulevard.  Those were the ones I went to, and I’m not sure why because I never particularly liked the food at them and insofar as I could tell, neither did anyone else.  The secret of their success seemed to be location, location, location.  They were the only “nice” places to take a date or client in certain areas.  For instance, if you picked up someone at the airport and drove south, the Hungry Tiger on Sepulveda was the first “decent” place to dine you encountered.  They got a lot of post-funeral traffic from the nearby Hillside Memorial Park, too.

The chain was started in 1962 by, the story goes, a group of former Flying Tigers’ combat pilots.  Some of the first outlets resembled hangars more than restaurants and all were decorated with photos of old planes and aviators.  I’m not sure many patrons understood the connection.

In the early eighties, business fell off substantially, apparently due to an influx of strong competitors into the marketplace.  The Hungry Tiger chain needed to remodel and upgrade but lacked the funds to do this so in 1985, a new management team was brought in, some of the less profitable outlets were closed and a general relaunch was attempted.  It failed to turn around public abandonment of the eateries so in the years following, most of them closed and a few went independent.  There are still Hungry Tiger restaurants around but not as part of a large chain.

The last time I was in one, it was the one in Westwood.  This would have been around 1980.  My date and I were going to a play at the Westwood Playhouse and with parking being as difficult and expensive as it was up there, it seemed logical to dine at the Hungry Tiger that was in the same block as the theater.  We could park once for both, get validated at the restaurant and…well, you get the idea.

We both ordered the broiled shrimp and when it came, it turned out to be the kind served in the shell…not my favorite way of having shrimp.  When they serve it that way, you always seem to spend forever digging the meat out and there isn’t very much of it.  These had almost none.  My lady friend and I were amazed at how little edible shrimp flesh you got in a serving of Hungry Tiger broiled shrimp.  It was barely one mouthful.  We mentioned this to our server who called over a manager who basically told us, “That’s our broiled shrimp.  If you didn’t get enough to eat, order something else and pay for an additional entree, heh heh.” Those weren’t the precise words he used but they were close.  There was definitely no concern that we weren’t happy with our meals.  We would have done what he suggested if there had been time before the play, except that (of course) we would have done it at another restaurant.

After the play, we decided to go somewhere and actually eat, rationalizing that at least the hefty tab I’d played at the Hungry Tiger had gotten us our parking at a discount.  It turned out that despite the posted signs, the lot no longer honored Hungry Tiger validations and I had to pay full price to get out.  The next day, I wasted about an hour calling the restaurant and the corporate offices of Hungry Tiger to complain.  The attitude I encountered was along the lines of “If you don’t like it, eat somewhere else.”  Thereafter, I did…and wasn’t surprised that so many other people did, as well.  Beware any business that names itself after a voracious predator.

64 Responses to The Hungry Tiger

  • Mike Puckett says:

    Scott Davis and I were musicians at the Tiger in Westwood Village in 1975. Many actors/actresses came into the bar due to the Westwood theater being right next door. It was so much fun and the restaurant was just incredible. Made many great friends and memories that year in the Village.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Fun reading through all the Comments which makes me wonder if/hope that “younger” Folks are enjoying and capturing memories of restaurants today or are we just overly nostalgic! LOL

    The Hungry i! The Hungry i! is all I’d misread when seeing The Hungry Tiger in your List. Finally searched for The H i and references to its performers come flowing back into mind, e.g., etc. Man, those must’ve been the days in San Francisco to see Sahl, Cosby, Streisand, Woody, Cavett, Jonathan, Prof Corey, etc.!

  • Lizzie says:

    I remember them, but well – I think I only ate there a couple of times as a kid. What brought me to your page, by searching for “hungry tiger”, because I got an Old Fashioned glass with their logo at an antique store in Lebec.

  • Rhudy Camper says:

    Retired now, but back in 1970s, I had to travel to LA quite a bit, and generally stayed in the LAX area. One of my favorite places to eat was the Hungry Tiger near Marina Del Rey. I would always get my sand dabs “fix” there, along with great clam chowder and sourdough bread. Such good times back then! Would come home and mention what a tough trip I had. Yea, right.

  • alejandro jorge buna says:

    i am from argentina, came on vacation in 1969 and worked at the Hungry Tiger on la brea and Hollywood blvd…it was a very nice place to work , my manager HEDING FLEMMING..was very strict….and did not allow me to have a mustache….. but i was ok with it… because the place was very fancy…. the staff was very nice to work with…..and you always will be serving to actors like Lucy Ball, Peter Graves, SIlvester Stallone, Mia Farrow, and many more….. the food was excellent and working in this place gave me too many satisfactions hard to tell them all….i wish this place will be still open….. i stop working at this place in order to jump working on my own in the garment industry….was very sucessful but lasted only 7 years…have done many other things like interpreting, interior gardening… but my best time was working at THE HUNGRY TIGER…… WISH IT WAS STILL OPEN…..FROM MY HEART….

  • Lois Cary says:

    My husband and I went there in 66or 67. I am from Boston and he waates from Maine, so we know our Maine lobster and how it should be cooked/presented. When I broke off one of the front claws a gush of water filled my plate to almost overflowing soaking and making the other items on my plate inedible. I ate what I could and we never went there again and it closed down shortly after that. No surprise.

  • Lois Cary says:

    Does anyone remember Drysdale’s Dugout?

  • Kathleen Grant says:

    Where on Sepulveda blvd was the Hungry Tiger restaurant?

  • Roger Hoffman says:

    Wow I just found out that the Hungry Tiger is still in business , well that made my day for sure. I was head bartender and asst. manger at the Sepulveda store in 1978 to 1979 then worked at the one at the Scotsdale airport in 1980. The soup was to die for , clam chowder and the Dobie Delight from the oyster bar Wes the best and I knew Dobie who it was named after, we were the number one store in the chain for many years. I got to get to the one in Portland . Thank you. Roger Hoffman

  • Curtis Lofgren says:

    I worked at the Hungry Tiger in Westwood in ’77. I thought it was a well run chain, not as good as the Velvet Turtle, but the white table-cloth, chrome lined chairs and tables provided an easy going comfortable environment. I was a waiter and made great money, but had to work double shifts, lunch and dinner. In between, I went to see every bad movie made in 1977, including WHITE BUFFALO and THE CAR. My girlfriend and I lived in West Los Angeles. The Tiger had many popular-culture faces showing up, since it was Westwood and the celebrities came and went. I loved it. I did stand up over at the Comedy Store-West and had a pretty good time, all in all. But then, we moved to Redondo Beach and my girlfriend left me. How awful!

  • Curtis Lofgren says:

    By the way, their fresh seafood was for real. They would fly in a minimum of ten fish a day. It was probably things like that which brought the corporation to its knees, but the food at the Westwood location was very good. You wouldn’t have the stars keep showing up there if it wasn’t….too much completion, you know, Westwood and all…..

  • Renee says:

    Was there a hungry tiger in Rolling Hills Est?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Renee ,

    If you are REALLY all that interested, you should take some time and scroll back to the very beginning. It will not be that difficult for you as there are only 63 comments here and I guarantee you will discover an answer to your query. Why not treat yourself and learn something today.
    Phil Ankofski

  • jonathan says:

    My dad parked cars at the Hollywood location. He ended up being a hot rod mechanic amd built the general Lee’s for dukes of Hazzard. I have a pic of my dad sitting on the hood of his 63 impala inside the parking structure. Too bad I can’t post it. . .

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