Woody’s Smorgasburger II

The comment thread on the original posting here about Woody’s Smorgasburger got so long that we decided to stop it there and start a sequel over there. You can read the old thread here. Please continue the conversation below. And by the way, all this talk has made some of us miss the place all the more.

229 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger II

  • Dennis Ralph says:

    Back in the sixties Use to go to woody’s after surfing the north bay, would down two king Swedes two fries and all the other stuff, had a friend by the name of Jimmy Clevenger who could down four king swedes at one sitting! It never got any better than that!

  • Phil A. says:

    Jimmy C. must have been attracted by the Woody’s sign which had the company slogan ; ” for mountainous appetites “.

  • Phil A. says:

    In case you are interested, here is a location status for some of the Woody’s units I know about;
    Culver City; El Pollo Loco since 1986
    Redondo Beach; Rock and Brew since 2013
    Gardina; Vacant restaurant ( original structure )
    Los Angeles #4 ; Del Taco
    Los Angeles #6; Cleared lot with sculpture
    El Segundo; IHOP Pancake House ( original structure ) since 2005
    Woodland Hills; ??
    Westwood; ??
    Admiral Risty; Still cookin and in it’s 48th year !! ( original interior )
    Orange ; ??
    Tustin; ??

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

    Yo Phil! Thanks for the “location status” of several Woody’s.

    Yo, don’t mean to badger Y’all and everyone for the 3rd time, but what gives with this person’s claim about Woody’s being ‘up the coast’? Was there a Woody’s in Sacramento and Oakland etc. as reported here http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/aframe3.html ???? Might you make a correction if that wasn’t the case? If not, and it IS incorrect, I’d be happy to try to correct the error!

  • Phil A. says:

    For Bob in NM;

    Yes , those northern units did exist for a very, very short life of about two years. Time frame was within 1962/1967.
    Those stores were operated separately under an agreement with IHOP which lasted for five years.

    I have mentioned this IHOP group of stores in previous postings but with very little detail as I have never talked with or heard from anyone who owned one of the franchises. Several of us would like to learn the overall reasons for their short life.

    Phil A.

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

    Thanks Phil! I didn’t know that!
    Amazing in light of the ‘product’ (using the ‘in’ term as ‘they’ say today, LOL) that Woody’s (and…ahem…. of course his well chosen staff) had to offer, those ‘northern’ places didn’t take root!
    ~ It always amazed me visiting back home in MA in the ’70s-’90s how limited, if at all ‘fast foods’ like even Mickey Ds had not taken ahold.
    ~ Except for exceptions of “it” being the right time n place, I can imagine it is one challenging business to try to survive in. Without attempting to disrespect anyone’s views herein, I can’t imagine what a 10:10 minimum wage might do today to entrepreneurial wannabees or franchisees of places. Yes, it was eons ago, but I appreciated my buck thirty-two (sans a Tip Jar! LOL) given where I was in life (despite a BA) and what I had to offer in fair exchange. (Alas, I’ve always had a yen to open a fine dining/gourmet restaurant as experienced in days of yore, e.g. Scandias, Lawry’s, Chasen’s, the Brown Derby, Trader Vic’s and even the ‘tropical’ place down the street in Redondo’s Hollywood Riv around ’62, but wouldn’t dare in today’s environment. Indeed…Thank gawd…folks like Mr. Woods had more huevos than I…LOL!)

  • Dick Roletta says:

    Anyone remember Airport Village? This was before Woody’s.

  • Phil A. says:

    Wasn’t the Village the pre historic version of our modern day mall food courts? I myself had never patronized the area which I understand had the Hamburger Handout and Tito’s Tacos as tenants.
    It must have been a great place for girl watching and first dates.
    Of course when Woody’s SmorgasBurger came on the scene ( just down the road ), young couples had a brand new dating venue to enjoy.

  • Phil A. says:

    Dick R.
    Why not write a few paragraphs and share what you remember about A.V.
    Also, when you were working at Woody’s, did your family live in the immediate area ?

  • Phil A. says:

    This summer will be my 50th anniversary marking the date I hired in at
    Woody’s Culver City. ( Chris P. too ! )
    Anyway, in honor of this time and place, I am now laying out plans to construct a miniature diorama of the Woody’s CC location including the full parking lot. I am making it a point to feature very detailed trucks
    which delivered the meats and provisions. Do to space, I need to limit the number of delivery trucks to four. So, I selected Patman’s Prime Meats,
    S.E. Rykoff & Co. , Barbara Ann Bakery and Corsaro Produce.
    All trucks will be painted in the appropriate colors with correct script and lettering colors.

    As I proceed to make notes and drawings, I am surprising myself as to how much I do remember. I am very lucky to have Chris Pingel as a consultant for the issues which I am unsure of.

    The giant original roadside sign ( 1956 thru 1967 ) will be a test for me.
    I will not attempt to replicate that sign right away, but will use artistic license to come close for the time being.

    If all goes as well as I hope, I will provide photos to any of you who might be interested.

    Wishing you all a great summer.
    Phil Ankofsi

  • Chris P. says:

    I remember that as”The village kitchens”
    I believe there was a Sizzler there also.
    Hamburger handout, maybe KFC too, one of the first in California,I think there was a Mexican place too, maybe that was Tito’s but not sure.
    I lived above in Westchester. This was all so long ago so my memory might be playing tricks on me.
    I believe that corner was owned by Leonard’s the same people that owned the Leonard’s store in El Segundo. on Sepulveda.
    Maybe Phil can look up some facts on these things.
    Take Care,
    Chris p.

  • Phil A. says:

    The only facts I can add is that Jim Collins was a major player at this Village location. He owned the Hamburger Handout and the KFC. Sometime later Jim bought out the folks who originated the Sizzler and closed the Handouts. Jim was also offered the master area franchise for KFC which covered most of LA county and perhaps Orange county as well.

    Jim Collins forgot about hamburgers and grew his KFC and Sizzler stores
    into a fantastically successful and lucrative operation.
    Jim went public at some point with his Collins Foods International.
    I have read that Jim and his wife ” gave back ” to the Culver City area
    with multi million dollar contributions to different charities.
    Well done Jim Collins !!! I suspect Jim and Ralph Wood knew each other quite well because of their close proximity and their membership in the different restaurant associations.

    Other guys who lived in the local area ( Dick R., Marshall L., Gary W.
    and Steve C. ) probably patronized the AV and should have more comments to post.
    Phil A.

  • Dick Roletta says:

    Phil don’t forget a truck for Abbot Foods who supplied the salad dressing for Woody’s in your diorama. My parents and I lived in the Baldwin Hills Village from 1941 till the dam broke in the sixties. When we moved there, across the street in a large field the US Army Air Force was training British pilots using Spitfires. I used to watch them dog fight. Hamburger handout sold hamburgers for 19 cents, French fries for 10 cents, and malts for 15 cents. Went there alot but never as good as Woody’s.

  • Phil A. says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but my first 4 months on the job at Woody’s CC involved hitch hiking too and from Playa del Rey.
    The average wait per ride was not long at all, but I do remember two rides which were very scary indeed. Both ended safely. I was the happiest guy when my landlady loaned me the money to buy my first car which was a 57 Ford Skyliner like Gary’s. Having the car to get to work seemed like cutting my shift in half. I think the travel distance in from Baldwin Hill would have been about the same as from PDR.

    When I hired in there was a small shed in the back of the Woody’s lot which was used by the guys to change into their uniforms.
    Question for Chris; Did that shed remain forever, or at some point did you have it dismantled? I am trying to decide if I should include it in the diorama layout.

    For all Readers; Did a school or tour bus ever pull in and download a large group of patrons ? Never happened on my shifts.

  • Dick Roletta says:

    The shed is still there but I don’t know how El Polo Loco uses it.

  • Phil A. says:

    Amazing to learn from Dick that the Woody’s CC shed is still there.
    If we ever have a reunion, I want it to be held at the shed.
    It will definitely be in the diorama !

  • Phil A. says:

    Which style of roof does the CC shed have, flat or A style? Thanks.

  • Phil A. says:

    Who would have thought the Rolling Stones and the Ford Mustang would outlive Woody’s SmorgasBurger ?

  • ChrisP. says:


    The shed, which we called the block house, had lockers in it and we used it for changing etc.
    I kind of remember having the ice cream freezer there also, but not sure.
    The block house was there till the Woody’s was dismantled in 1985. It had to go to make way for the drive thru of our EPL.
    What Dick see’s in that area is our trash compactor which is close to where the block house used to stand. It’s enclosed by a brick wall. next to the drive thru lane.
    As for school buses or , in my case, tour buses, I remember one afternoon around 4 or so. In our El Segundo Store #7, I had let everyone go because everything was prepped for dinner and the night shift would be on soon. Normally that would be no problem for myself. Well one afternoon after everyone was gone except for our busboy a tour bus stopped in front with about 40 people in it. I had to handle it by myself. Thank God most had just regular Smorgasburgers and salads etc or I might have really had a problem. I took as many orders as I could , then put the items on the grill told them to slide to their left and I’d get their drinks and ring them up. Then I’d go back and take a few more orders and do the same thing. Well, I got thru it and everyone was happy and I got a nice tip.
    Anyway, you just never know.
    Have a nice day everyone,

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

    D-I-Y Sundae Bar crushed nuts used by some of us for Smorgasburgers along with Thousand Island: Am I presuming correctly they were ‘plain’ peanuts such as you’d get in a baggie of Planter’s? What did the supply for them, the cherries, marshmallow come in, e.g. a tin can? I just can’t picture how ‘we’d’ resupply those bowls. Was there a cabinet underneath or different at Red.-Holly Riv vs. CC?
    Lettuce: I remember salad being soaked in water that had some “medicine” in it to prevent rusting. Thought it strange that didn’t happen before it came to us. Was that ever found to be hazardous?
    I looked up the CC now being an EPL…blew my mind that it was on a corner of a street vs in the middle of a block, even tho only subbed once in a while. Presume this is correct? http://tinyurl.com/ohzg8fq
    Diorama: sounds exciting. Feel free to have my light blue Vespa parked in the back…LOL If I’m correct I think the Red./Holly Riv. manager, Chrisman circa ’63, had a Vette. Maybe he’d visit CC for a meeting? Otherwise, per what’s been said previously, you might have half the lot filled with “classic” cars.
    Today, everyone is taking pics with their cell phones or digital cameras and we sadly have nothing from days of yore except often fuzzy memories…LOL

  • Phil A. says:

    Ah, the ” block house”. The name sounds a little sinister, like a holding cell.
    I have been devoting much time to the Woody’s diorama and am now working on the Rykoff truck. I expected this one to be the most difficult and what do you know, it has been the easiest. That’s way it is in model making.

    I have been using the net to gather photos, etc. of the Rykoff trucks and I ran across several quips written about how the drivers were teased about the motto painted on each truck; ” Enjoy Life, Eat Out More Often ”
    I guess they really got the business when stopped at a red light.

    The ” block house” is going to fit perfectly in the diorama. I am thrilled.
    By the way, all this is being done in HO scale ( 1/87 ).
    The total dimensions for the parking lot ( front, rear, and sides) measures
    12 inches by 15 inches.

    Chris, I enjoyed the story of your one man show at #7. Well done !

    Well I am off to give this truck it’s appropriate ” pea soup green ” paint job.
    I am having a hell of a lot of fun!
    Phil A.

  • Phil A. says:

    While I look for an HO scale Vespa, why not list a couple of car models that you used to drive to the CC store during the early 70′s ?
    I want to try and include one in the diorama. This thing is beginning to take on a life of it’s own.

  • Mark Thorson says:

    The “medicine” added to the water to keep the salad from rusting was almost certainly citric acid or vitamin C. Both are antioxidants, which will stop the oxidation that causes the color change (especially in lettuce). Both are totally harmless.

  • ChrisP. says:

    If I’m correct the stuff we used to use, I think, was called Veggie White.
    It was banned many years ago by the FDA for some reason.
    There may be a substitute but I haven’t heard of any.
    Most of the produce we use now is prepared and sealed in air tight bags so we don’t have a problem if we use it by the expiration date, which we do.

  • Gary Wilcut says:

    I remember Hamberger Handout well from my early teenage years. My father worked in downtown L.A. and would come home on the bus to Westchester where I would meet him at the Sepulveda and La Tiejera bus stop. Every Friday, which was pay day, my father would pack our family into the family’s 1952 Hudson Hornet, which Chris P may remember, and would drive us down the hill on Sepulveda BLVD to Hamberger Hamlet. I would order 2 – .19 cent hambergers, fries and a chocolate malt.
    This was a highlight of my life those 1950′s days.

    Thanks for the memories Dick.

  • Phil A. says:

    I’m in the mood for a Matterhorn !
    Plan details for the Woody’s diorama are coming along very nicely.
    I have decided to feature a particular day of the year in the life of Woody’s
    Culver City. The day is ; the ” Woody’s 2 for 1 Anniversary Sale ! “.
    Making the banner will be a snap, but I am wondering how many HO scale figurines I should use in forming the long line of customers across the front of the store and back. Hell, it may take 50 or 60 !

    Question for Chris; About how many parking spots were available at Woody’s #1 ? How does this compare to the current parking space requirements for a EPL unit?
    If you cannot locate the pic of the back walls of CC, perhaps you can draw me a diagram and send it to me. I hope you took a drafting class at St. Ber nard’s. Please advise. Thank you.

  • Mark Thorson says:

    Ah, the chemical was sulfite, banned in 1986 because it provoked allergic reactions in some asthmatics.


    Not dangerous to the rest of us, but a good reason to ban it.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Haven’t posted here in a while. Need to ketchup… (LOL)

    Responding to posts by / date / time:

    Mark J. Feb.10th 10:40AM
    That was probably me that mentioned something about the employee at the Redondo location who owned the Lotus Europa. After working at Woodys Westwood one night (in 1970 I believe), a co-worker who previously worked there and I drove over. I was a car nut at the age of 18 and was immediately impressed with Evan Zang’s Europa. I knew what it was, but had never been near one. (For those unfamiliar, it was a mid-engined coupe, very advanced for the time.) The guys at Redondo impressed me with their ‘coolness’.

    Phil A April 7th, 1:15PM
    Re: current status of former Woody’s locations….
    You had a question mark on the Westwood Village location. Sadly, the entire building is gone. A parking lot next door to the south expanded into the space. The Westwood location was not purpose-built to be a Woody’s. Was probably a clothing store or some-such in a former life (I was probably told at some point when I was there, but that info’s gone now..).

    Dick Roletta, April 12th, 9:48AM
    Airport Village…….
    I remember it very well. In fact, one of my oldest memories, with me being about 4 years old, was travelling from our house on Coolidge St. in Culver City to Airport Village one evening in dad’s ’48 Dodge. Somehow, during the evenings festivities, I broke off the door lock key to the Dodge in the right door lock cylinder….. This would have been around 1955.

    Phil A., April 13th, 11:07AM
    Re: Diorama, trucks
    Phil – are you going to do the diorama of the #1 Woody’s with the carport-structure over the driveway, or without? For those who don’t remember, there was an extension of the roof structure that spanned the drive-through area to he rear parking lot. (This was right where the front door was). Well one day, a slightly too-tall milk truck tried to go under this structure, instead of going around to the right. Much damage ensued, and eventually the structure was taken down. That was my dad in the milk truck.

    Phil – maybe you can do a re-enactment?

  • Phil A. says:

    Welcome back Marshall. Nice recap on the several issues.
    The Woody’s CC diorama will be constructed as the store stood in 1965, so it is without the carport. With all the cars, trucks and people that I plan to have on the lot, I could re-enact just about anything. My current goal is to re-enact the Anniversary 2 for 1 Sale. When completed, I’ll have to through some real burger patties on the fry pan to add the sense of authentic smell.

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