Woody’s Smorgasburger III

We’ve had so many messages posted here about the late, luscious Woody’s Smorgasburger that we have to break them up.  This is the third thread of comments.  You can read our article about Woody’s and the first batch of comments here.  You can read the second batch of comments here.  Please continue the discussion on this thread.

189 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger III

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For the days of Woody’s, tube tops, crop tops and sweater dresses.

    Three days after my Hot Pants conversation and I am STILL smiling.
    Bobber in NM, you are a fun guy !
    Yoga pants in Ohio do not cover anything. This fashion trend is what keeps me young at 70. Only 1% of the girls that wear them have seen the inside
    of a Yoga classroom. Fine my me !
    The girls who look best in them could just as well wear body paint.

    I just read a posting from Brian on the Cassell reopening in the Normandie.
    He tells us things are a little different but the size and quality of the burger
    remains the same. Elsewhere I read the 1/3 lb. burger starts at 10.95 !
    I hope Mark Evanier or one of you Readers can swing by and give us a report afterward.

    I guess I could tie Woody’s together with Yoga Pants in this way ;

    At Woody’s the patron received her SmorgasBuger ” nude ,” leaving her the option of keeping it that way.
    I think the girls wearing Yoga Pants feel the same way.
    How else can they leave the house ……. feeling nude ?

    Just think, you don’t have to go to a beach or a swimming pool to see what they are showing you while ordering at Starbucks.

    Such fun … enjoy the holidays.
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Looks like my Cary Grant look alike contest was a total flop.
    Yes, a little dismayed as I wanted to wrap up 2014 with a little fun.
    Not much longer till we see what 2015 has in store.

    For those of you who have a interest in the Cassell’s rebirth, be sure and jump over to the Cassell’s site offered here by Mark Evanier.
    ” Guy Reading ” posted a short, but very insightful narrative about the new digs in the Normandie. He addressed every issue I wondered about.
    Plus, I learned that self serve condiment bars are now taboo in LA.

    How could a resurrected Woody’s circumvent that ?

    Ohio will not have a white Christmas this year, not that I was dreaming for one. Better the Rockies and the Sierras get the new snowpack.

    I am off to help Mary Ann bake some Toll House cookies for Santa.

    Merry Christmas everyone !
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    I would like to share this positive news to wrap up 2014 :

    Mr. Ralph Wood is holding his own and doing okay.
    He recognizes most visitors most of the time.
    Mr. Wood continues to rely on a motorized wheel chair and does
    need assistance with meals, etc.
    During this month of December he celebrated his 90th birthday.

    After his 67 years of marriage to his beloved wife Barbara ” Risty ” Wood,
    well, we know he is missing her terribly.
    Mr. Wood lives in an assisted living complex which is located in the same neighborhood that he lived in most of his adult life.
    As much as he enjoyed being near or on the water, it is my prayer that people in his life now make it a point to get him to places where he can overlook the rolling hills of Palos Verdes and the awesome Pacific.

    I learned this update from the folks who work and hang out at the “Risty “.
    For those of you who still maintain ” prayer lists ” , why not join me in adding Mr. Wood near the very top of that list. Amen.

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Dear Readers and Friends,

    I was happy to close out the year 2014 with positive news regarding Mr.Wood’s health. Now a month later, I must start 2015 by informing
    everyone here that Mr. Ralph Wood has passed on.
    Mr. Wood died on Sunday, January 25th at the age of 90.

    The Daily Breeze newspaper has printed the obituary in todays edition,
    Saturday, January 31, 2015 ~ The obit also informs us that Mr. Wood’s memorial service was held on Friday, January 30th.

    You can access the obit @ dailybreeze.com/obituaries/20150130/ralph-wood.

    At the bottom of the obit, there is a window which invites you to sign the guestbook and/or post comments.

    During the last two years, we have posted in excess of 700 comments which ultimately preserves Mr. Woods legacy. I wish we could transpose all of
    our comments to Mr. Woods Guest Book.
    I am sure Mr. Wood’s family, friends and employees would find much comfort in the love we have displayed for this man.

    In closing this short narrative, I would invite all of you to get out to your
    local butcher counter before the Super Bowl game and buy enough ground beef to make your favorite SmorgasBurgers at pre game time.
    That’s what I’m gonna be doin’ …… along with my frosted mug of root beer.
    ” Here’s to you Ralph Wood ; You were a mentor to so many of us. ”

    Phil Ankofski

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

    Thank you Phil.
    Hopefully, Mark will let me include this f/u article from the Daily Breeze.. http://tinyurl.com/oqq8cqs …note Folks can comment there. I’ve also asked it’s author to reference Mark’s site.

    By Megan Barnes, The Daily Breeze
    POSTED: 01/30/15, 7:39 PM PST | 3 COMMENTS
    When Ralph Wood Jr. decided to open an upscale steak and seafood restaurant on the isolated Palos Verdes Peninsula in the mid-1960s, he was met with skepticism. Such a venture was sure to fail, he was told.

    The restaurateur had moved his family to the Hill a few years earlier, driving throughout Southern California each day to his multiple Woody’s Smorgasburgers locations, and wanted to open something local and different. So when he found a spot in a sparsely filled Golden Cove Shopping Center overlooking the Pacific Ocean in what is now Rancho Palos Verdes, Wood was thrilled, even if he had been shot down trying to find financing.

    Almost a half-century later, the Admiral Risty Restaurant has served nearly 4 million patrons since opening in October 1966, undergone three expansions, and has garnered awards and a reputation as a dining landmark on the Peninsula.

    Wood, who named the restaurant after his high school sweetheart and wife of 67 years, Barbara “Risty” Wood, died Sunday at the age of 90. Generations of loyal customers and “crew members” are expected to attend his memorial service at 3 p.m. Fridayat St. Peter’s by the Sea Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow.

    Born on New Year’s Eve in 1924, Wood grew up in Pasadena and spent his childhood camping and fishing with his family. After graduating from South Pasadena High School, he served in Gen. George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army in Germany during World War II and married Risty, then a student at Mills College, while on a monthlong Army furlough in 1945.

    Wood took an interest in the restaurant industry when he worked as a fry cook and host while earning an economics degree from Occidental College.

    He and Risty moved around Southern California, living in 10 different houses during the first 10 years of their marriage. They had four children and opened King Karrot Juice Bars in grocery stores before starting the first of seven Woody’s Smorgasburgers. The eateries were known for their sundae and condiment bars, which let customers build their own creations.

    The restaurants began closing in the 1970s and Wood turned his Torrance location on Pacific Coast Highway and Palos Verdes Boulevard — where Rock & Brews stands today — into a Mexican restaurant called Mucho Gusto, putting a pink bus inside that was converted into a dining room. For a time, he opened a second Admiral Risty in San Diego and a restaurant called the Catalina Grill in the Hollywood Riviera.

    In all, Wood owned or operated more than 23 restaurants in his lifetime, served two terms as president of the Southern California Restaurant Association and nine years as a director of the National Restaurant Association.

    “He was a kind gentleman who was always thinking positively and moving forward and trying to improve whatever he was doing and we were doing,” said Wayne Judah, co-owner and general manager of the Admiral Risty.

    Judah walked into the restaurant one short-staffed night in January 1969 to apply for a bartending job and was hired on the spot, working his way up to become a partner in 1982.

    He said while he and Wood didn’t always see eye to eye, they never argued.

    “We really didn’t,” he said. “We’d discuss things, come up with a solution and that’s the way we handled our business. He was a great man and we’re all going to miss him.”

    Wood’s daughter, Sara Wood, described a father who encouraged his children to follow their own dreams.

    “He would say, ‘Do what makes you happy,’ and he kind of lived that,” she said. “Neither he nor my mom were very critical of who we dragged home, who we hung out with, what we did or how we did it. They weren’t too high-pressure about school. They really let us develop as human beings on our own and that’s something I’ve always been grateful for.”

    It’s difficult for Sara Wood to describe her father without also talking about her late mother.

    The two met in the seventh grade and became inseparable. The avid sailors were active in the King Harbor Yacht Club and took their children camping and fishing in the eastern Sierra. They loved the outdoors so much that they had a home in June Lake and went backpacking every August for their anniversary. The Woods traveled to every continent except Australia.

    At the restaurant, Risty wore many creative hats, from coordinating marketing and special events to greeting guests. The Woods retired about 10 years ago and Risty died in May 2012.

    Growing up in a family in the restaurant business meant they were the first to have the latest kitchen gadgets at home, like a commercial malt machine and a microwave in the mid-1960s, Sara Wood said.

    “It was completely unheard of then, and it didn’t take us kids long to figure out to throw foil in for a tremendous light show,” she said.

    Wood was an innovator in his own restaurants, testing recipes, coming up with food and labor cost-control systems before the advent of computers, and designing a conveyor belt that transports dishes from the waiters’ station to the kitchen still used at the Admiral Risty today.

    Sara Wood and her siblings worked in the family’s restaurants and Wood’s son Eric and grandson Anders both became professional chefs. The Admiral Risty employed many local teens over the decades, helped raise money to build the high school swimming pools on the Peninsula and remains an active community donor.

    When Peninsula resident Kathy Berg told Wood she was starting her public relations business 31 years ago, he signed up to be her first client, and the restaurant remains one today.

    “I have countless fond memories and am so thankful to have had the pleasure to work with Ralph,” she said. “He truly was a one-of-a-kind gentleman and I will miss him.”

    In addition to Sara, Wood is survived by three sons, Jon, Chip and Eric, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    The family asks that any donations in Wood’s honor be made to the Occidental College Annual Fund, 1600 Campus Road, Building M-34, Los Angeles, CA 90041.

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

    Eh…what a hoot to re-check the original newspaper article http://tinyurl.com/oqq8cqs to see some “nutty” remembrances in the Comment section of it!
    Alas, you guyz 1) did your jobs, and, most importantly! 2) created lasting memories!!! Doesn’t get any better than that in this Life!!!!!!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Hello Bob of NM ~

    Good for you. Sharp thinking on your part for asking Mark to transfer Mr. Wood’s obit here so everyone can be equally informed. Smart man !
    Thank you.

    Thank you Mark Evanier for taking care of us.
    Hope all is going well with the new ” Cloud ” .
    All my best ,
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Wow………….
    Not the kind of news I was expecting clicking on my favorites link to here after being away for a few weeks. Comes as kind of shock, especially after seeing notices today about the deaths of Gary Owens (a favorite LA DJ of mine) and loyal LA newsman Stan Chambers.

    I’ve posted my condolences on the Daily Breeze page, but I’m mostly at a loss for words, as I didn’t really get to know Mr. Wood well during my time at Woody’s Smorgasburger. By the time I started, the corporation had a lot going on, and my Westwood store was not fully owned by Mr. Wood. There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect after a while from the management structure, starting around 1970 or so. Then, when Steve Dabbs in essence ‘bought’ the store, there was no corporate involvement at all, and some visible changes started to occur.

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

    Not meaning to be disrespectul just to satisfy my curiosity and maybe its already been covered, but is there any “place” for a backstory why Woody’s didn’t “last”? Were they too concentrated from CC to Redondo? Did USC/UCLA need beer? Was it just price…certainly not quality…whereby the Arches “flourished”? Was a square burger of Wendy’s or “roast beef with horsey sauce” of Arby’s that big a competative edge? While to some extent CA was in the forefront of casual eateries and their going national, it always surprised me how they were slow to sprout up in e.g. MA in the last quarter of last century as say they did in the SouthWest.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Good question, Bob. There are probably a lot of answers to that question. Not being a restaurant industry expert, my opinion won’t be worth much, but here goes..

    Woody’s Smorgasburger ultimately failed because it didn’t grow. With a maximum of maybe 6-8 stores at its peak in the late 60’s / early 70’s, it didn’t have the attention on it like the big players in the casual dining scene in southern California. The franchising arrangement in the early 60’s failed because it was a bad deal all around. Maybe that event bothered Mr. Wood, I don’t know. In my opinion, the chain should have been building more stores in new areas, and also maybe starting up a ‘Smorgasburger, Jr.’ (with drive-thru) to compete with the fast food guys.

    Of course, it’s easy to do Sunday morning quarterbacking…….so what I’m writing means nothing.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    I say ” blame it on the NO FRIES policy.”
    After 15 years, Chris Pingel and Mr. Cramer took over ( 1971 ) and
    proceeded to install fries immediately in the El Segundo store.
    WA LA !! Potato salad sales plunged and the food cost improved along with the increased sales associated with FRIES.
    It took Chris some time longer to figure out how to install fries in the Culver City store …….. but he did do it ! Well done Chris !

    To me the NO FRIES policy at Woody’s would be akin to this scenario;

    Investors announce that they are building a brand new casino/ hotel
    in Las Vegas. After describing all the new amenities, one of the guys
    says ; ” we will NOT be featuring a SEAFOOD or PRIME RIB buffet in our restaurants .” ************ SAY WHAT ???????

    There, you have it.
    Phil

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

    Thanks Marshall.
    Admittedly, while I greatly enjoyed working and the camaraderie at Woody’s for, albeit only,10(?) months ’62-’63, restauranteering was not in my naive view of the world. If it had been, it might have dawned on me to compare my seeing (and starting!) what didn’t exist in my hometown…despite it being of a pop. of 100,000 and on the edge of Boston…versus what was ‘happening’ in CA. I cannot recall a single “Chain” in that town in the late ’50s/early 60’s (let alone many, during visits, up till the ’90s….e.g. Friendly’s and Howard Johnson notwithstanding! Everything was local Mom n Pop ala pizza or subs-grinders-hoagies or comfort/sea food!….altho http://tinyurl.com/mfhb9ca Otherwise in CA, A&W had been trying to ‘blossom’ since the ’20s; there was Taco Bell trying to ‘bud’ under various names…the last including an Anglo!; there were Big Boys and there was even Wienerschnitzel!!! Beyond and “stepping it up a bit’ competing for munching dollars, there was Ships, Rand’s Roundup and a myriad of everyday venues let alone ‘dining’ venues…e.g. Scalo’s/Trader Vic’s/Lawry’s trying to lure in one’s dollars! Indeed, I can imagine there was a possible cost-efficiency to contend with ala a Smorgasburger structure and a Twin Arches. With due regard to your ‘expansion’ view, if I lived in Pasadena, would I’ve jumped on my Vespa to ride a half hour to Culver City just because they uniquely served a burger a) on a Kaiser roll, b) upon which I could lather some things not offered elsewhere like c) Thousand Island and d) chopped peanuts???? Lo that Mr. Wood did not advertise(?) a chance to espy the likes of a teenybopper of CC High’s Saffrons like http://tinyurl.com/mn7m33q Sharrie Williams, a Maybelline heiress! albeit certainly, eating Woody’s Smorgs then resulted in an equally luscious Sharrie today http://tinyurl.com/p7sayb4!!!!
    I’m just saying!!!!

    Alas, how many of us have or are saying: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda! LOL

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

    Yo Phil…Sorry, hadn’t seen your Comment per time-delay of being “in moderation”.
    I agree that your No-Fries analysis could have been a negative contribution to sales/existence, given the Zeitgeist of the era! In my fuzzy memory, I’m thinking most folks asked for a salad, tho if I was having a Smorg…not the K-Bob…I preferred a yellow dish of Mac as a great/refreshing alternative to fries elsewhere. In any event, I wonder what things would be like today given CA’s stereotypically “healthy” orientation/obsession, altho admittedly I don’t know if Mac is healthier than Fries. T’would be interesting to compare sales nowadays per old choices versus Fries. Personal quirk: if I get a yen for a square burger, of Wendy’s, I order a baked potato as a side. More quirkiness & as a recommendation of a “hidden” find: the only thing I get at Chica-Fil-A (as some of us call it in the SouthWest per the cute counter gals), I’m really addicted to just the Chicken Salad Sandwich amongst all their offerings if ya haven’t tried one! LOL) Lo, what a tough business to be in: we’ve been lamenting the closing this weekend of a 40 year old, “upscale” steak place with a 60’s ambiance and reasonable prices.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Sharing a 50 year old story, and remembering Randy Ewing. ~

    This month is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Rolling Stones monster hit ; ” The Last Time . ”
    I have always loved this song on it’s own merits which features the almost unbelievable guitar work by both Brian and Keith. ~ So what ????

    But besides the song itself, I am reminded of Randy Ewing who was my immediate supervisor at Woody’s Culver City in 1965.
    Randy was a very dedicated assistant manager who always gave 100% to the customers and co workers as well. Randy also loved the Stones.
    Randy also had his Hunter Green 1964 Stang which he loved more than the Stones. And on the nights he had the closing shift , we got it all baby !

    When the big hand reached 11 o’clock, Randy wasted no time in locking the doors and turning off the road sign. Next, he went out the back kitchen door
    and brought his Stang around to this door and parked as close as he could.

    With the kitchen door propped open, Randy then opened the passenger door of his Stang as wide as it would go. Reason ? He had the latest 8 track player with huge speakers in each door panel. At some point he had acquired the newest Stones 8 track which featured ” Last Time” and ” All Over Now “.

    In one of my earlier posting, I commented that I would have worked these time periods for free. Besides Randy and I , there could be Chris Pingel,
    Mike Schuler, Jerry Walter, Wally Roga, Russ Thomas, Dick Grafman,
    Ira and others. Not all at once, but on a rotating basis.

    We didn’t whistle while we worked ……. we ROCKED while we worked.

    Our crews enjoyed this closing routine for some time ……. until….

    Randy was let go. I had never learned the reason for Randy’s separation
    but many , many years later …. I concluded that having the back door wide open after closing was such a severe breech of company policy that it could not be overlooked. Perhaps the general manger devoted some of his time doing nighttime drive bys to look for this type of infractions. I don’t know.

    My understanding is that Randy moved over to the WichStand where he stayed for many years.
    ~ So here is a toast to both Randy and the Stones ~

    ******* This is an additional thought on the Woody’s No Fries Policy. *******

    Ralph Wood was engaged in the restaurant business for 10 years before opening the #1 in Culver City. He worked at several dinner houses during his college years and then operated several snack bars on his own.
    So,Ralph was not a stranger to fryers. And,they MAY NOT have been friends.

    This is what I am getting at ; Ralph himself may have suffered severe burns
    while working with fryers in those early days or, he may have witnessed a coworker getting burned. So, when making plans for the new Woody’s, he may very well have passed on the fryers. Who knows.
    Anyway, :” NO FRIES ” could have been a personal choice rather than
    a menu consideration.
    I myself think that the Cassell’s menu and model was the big influence.

    Question : Did Woody’s close at 10 or 11 on week nights ?????
    Hope you enjoyed the story kids. Now, off to bed. ( only those in the Eastern time zone. )

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Man O man , would I have been remiss in not returning to include the one and only David Fujiwara in the Culver City lineup of 1965.
    Dave was a dedicated closer because he was taking daytime classes , probably at SMCC. Dave also entertained us at the back door with music, but he did it by the book. After all closing chores were done and we all punched out, we would then lock the back door and gather around Dave’s motorcycle where he would then proceed to play all the Dylan songs on his guitar and sing too !
    As the months went by, Dave was promoted thru the supervisors ranks and then was made manager around 1967/68.
    Bless you Dave . I probably would not have appreciated Dylan without your mentoring. If you ever come to read this, know that we have very fond memories of our times together.

    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ For the days of Woody’s SmorgasBurger and Mr. Ralph Wood Jr. ~

    I think I am experiencing something somewhat strange. Since the passing of Mr. Wood in late January, I am finding it difficult to approach this site with
    any type of narrative rather it be humorous or serious.
    I also have had some down time on my Woody’s Album which I have been working on since last October.

    Chris Pingel has been sending me batches of photos which I then use to expand the album with new informative narratives. Thanks Chris !
    In previous comments, I had asked for an answer to this question ;
    Were the weeknight closing times at 10 PM or 11PM.
    I am thinking 10PM weeknights and 11 PM on Friday and Saturday.

    I know this sounds mighty trivial after 50 years, but I am writing a piece for the album and I want to have these facts to be accurate.
    Thanks ~

    A Happy Birthday ( belated ) to Mark Evanier who turned 63 in March.
    Having been born in 1952, Mark was just a 4 year old toddler when Woody’s opened in 1956. Too young to care about the SmorgasBurgers ……. but I am sure he loved the ice cream sundaes . Have a great year Mark !
    All my best,
    Phil

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

    —“Feeling Strange”: Hear ya Phil, but can’t help but to think Woody would be graciously appreciative of your recognition of his “work”, including “experimentations” which didn’t pan out.
    — Not absolutely sure, but I’d go with “10pm weekdays and 11 Fri-Sat” as I couldn’t imagine cruising Sepulveda back to Hermosa on a Vespa much beyond midnight if I subbed at CC.
    —Might you elaborate a little more on ‘the album’? Is it physical or virtual or…?

    —(While checking to see if there were any new Woody pics via Google, ran across this by someone from Hawthorne High….lest anyone wants to show their G-kids what talking was like back then…It’s a pretty bitchin list http://cougartown.com/slang.html LOL)

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Phil,
    I used to close on Friday and Saturday nights and worked till 1:00 am, so, I know we closed at midnight both Friday and Saturday at #1 Culver City.
    You and I closed together during the week, I believe, we did close at 10:00 because I was off at 11:00, of course, it’s been over 50
    years since then so I could be wrong but not for Friday and Saturday, Culver City was the hang out for the high school kids and we were busy till midnight.
    It was a fun time.
    ChrisP

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ For the days of Woody’s SmorgasBurger and the big $$$$$$. ~

    Good Morgan Readers and Commenters ( as In Robert W. ~ KHJ )

    I had been doing some computations regarding my Woody’s paychecks and the California minimum wage structure in effect during the respective time periods. I discovered Mr. Woods equations which I feel could be considered
    a bit better than his competition.

    I hired in at CC during July of 1964. My starting wage was $1.40 when the current minimum wage was set at $ 1.30.
    A 40 hour work week @ 1.40 per hour grossed = $56.00

    By the summer of 1965 , I was an assistant manager on salary of $120.00
    Mr.Wood took the minimum of $1.30 and doubled it to $2.60.
    He then took the $2.60 x the new 48 hour schedule which = $ 120.00

    In 1968 , I was the manager of Woody’s in Redondo @ 200.00 per week.
    The minimum wage had increased to $1.65 .
    Mr. Wood took the new minimum 0f $1.65 and doubled it to $ 3.30 ~
    He then took the 3.30 x the new 60 hour schedule which now grossed $200.

    For a single 22 year old kid, these were all very significant increases.
    But of course the managers hours on duty increased as well.
    I was certainly not living from paycheck to paycheck , because there was a period when I just put my checks in a drawer at home without cashing them.
    Helen from the office had to call me and tell me to start cashing them on a weekly basis because I was screwing up her bank payroll statements.

    I don’t know how well the married guys ( managers ) fared with this pay.
    I know Ron Blasio, Ty M. and Steve Dabbs were all married and some with kids. Their wives may have found it necessary to work also. I don’t know.
    But certainly by the mid 1970’s, most wives were working in order to achieve the American dream of home ownership.

    I understand the average pay for a unit manager now averages $50,000.
    per year. Some can earn more if they work for a company with a bonus system. I think the industry standard is now a 5 day work week, but I do not know how many hours per day.

    In honor of the late, great Robert W. ~ ZAP …. you’re Morganized !

    Phil

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

    Indeed Phil, one of the reasons I think I got to work with such a bunch of great Guys (albeit a few Chicas would have been most welcomed) in RB-HR and while subbing at CC, is that Mr. W paid a bit more for “quality” hires. While kids today might not even waste time bending down to pick up seven cents, $1.32 was 5.5% higher than the minimum wage…when’s the last time anyone got a COLA like that? Don’t know why, but that hourly always stuck out in my head in ’63.
    RE your $10,400 annual salary in comparison to $50K you noted for today: Using an inflation calculator http://tinyurl.com/o482plq , that would buy $70,100 today!!! You really were in Pig’s Heaven!
    (Note: over the years, inflation hasn’t been too bad…well except “73 – ’82 including the killer years of ”79, ’80, ’81 at 11, 13, & 10 %….LOL http://tinyurl.com/yfmyqcs On the other hand Saving Accnts and CD Interest rates were great if ya had the cash to save!)
    Not to detract, but as it was not mentioned, were there any benefits such as partial/full health insurance, a retirement plan, paid sick/vacation/holiday pay? Do things like OSHA, insurances, Local Health Codes, Unemployment insurance, etc. suppress that $70K from being possible today? (At the least as a Bennie, Non-Management received positive OJT in the broader sense as well as an “entry” level salary.)
    (It always amazed me “back in the day”, albeit perhaps just in fine dining restaurants, waitstaff were of an older, male generation who seemed to be there forever, i.e. as a single or family supporting career. Perhaps it was the tips that did it? Today even in many fine-dining places while ya might not get crop-toppers, so called waitstaff can come pierced/tatted…ooooeee, am I being unPC? Is that preferable to http://tinyurl.com/mnmaw3u with entrees served by http://tinyurl.com/pbl6xuh
    Bottom Line: A Tip o da Tam to Mr. W!
    (Pardon…must get back to doing my Income Taxes!!!!)

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For Chris Pingel,

    I am wrapping up the narrative on your Culver City store and I would like to know the month and year it was taken down. I am thinking it was in the spring of 1985. Following the Woody’s demolition, how long did it take to get your replacement El Pollo Loco store up and running ?
    Thanks,
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ For the days of Woody’s SmorgasBurger and the Gold Star Music Studios ~

    For Bob in NM ~ In your light my $10,400 in 1968 does look pretty nifty.
    I remember my mom saying that I was making more than dad.

    Now lets turn to the lesser known Woody’s of Woodland Hills.
    I need help. ( most likely from Mr. Pingel )

    I found some 47 year old ” help wanted ads ” in a valley newspaper.
    They were postings for an assistant manager trainee at the Woody’s located at 6355 Topanga Canyon Blvd. @ Victory Blvd. See Bob Penrod.

    The 6355 address was indeed assigned to Woody’s in late 1967, but prior to that, the same number is listed for the Carvery Restaurant. ( 1966 )
    So, this establishes there was a Carvery, but does anyone know if it was a Ralph Wood / Mr. Cramer venture ?
    The incorporation date was Sept. 12, 1966 so the Carvery had a very short life,
    because it was changed out to the Woody’s a year later. ( 10/1967 )

    Next thought; If it was operated by Mr. Wood, did he lease it as a franchisee or was the Carvery an independently owned and licensed venue ?

    Next ; the current Google road view offers an excellent shot of the office building which features TWO side by side restaurants out front.
    Was this the case in Woody’s day ?
    If so, which of the two restaurants was the Woody’s ? The one nearest to the corner of Victory Blvd., or …….. the one closer to the office building’s main entrance ? ( which is now a ” Roy’s ” )

    I remember the name Bob Penrod. He had been a Woody’s manger for only a short time prior to my resignation so we only had a few meetings where we interacted.

    I hope all of you local dudes remember the Gold Star Studios !
    Santa Monica Blvd. east of Vine …….where all the great, great songs of the sixties were produced. Brian Wilson, The Ronettes, and Tina Turner among so many others, gave us all that ” bitchin ” music.

    Woody’s and Gold Star …….. both at their peaks in the 60’s ………
    What a time to be young in the Southland !

    Phil

  • Chris Pingel says:

    About 4 months once the construction actually started.
    The time frame for a brand new building, at that time, was between 90 and 120 days.
    Now, it can be that same time depending on the city you are dealing with.
    Most take more time because of all the new rules and regulations in California. The last store we built took almost a year.
    The fees a and permits etc. were crazy and way out of line.
    That store does well, thank God.
    Take Care,
    ChrisP

  • Chris Pingel says:

    The Carvery was opened by Mr. Wood and closed and converted to a Woodys by Mr. Wood. It was not a franchise. It didn’t perform well and that’s why Wood converted it to a Carvery.
    When the split came in 1971 our group took over Woodland Hills along with Culver City #1 and El Segundo #7.
    Woodland Hills was much too large for a Woodys, there was much too much room on the front line. You had to take so many steps you’d be exhausted by the end of your shift. The dining room was huge with carpets. You couldn’t imagine the mess from the sundae bar.
    I don’t remember a restaurant next door, not saying there wasn’t one, I just don’t remember, sorry. The parking wasn’t good there and with another restaurant it would have been worse. They did put a car rental place in the same center and they took a lot of parking as well.
    Our group was able to shed it pretty quickly, it never did very well.
    It was so far out in the valley and hard to manage.
    It was a good move. We were able to then concentrate on the Culver and El Segundo stores.
    Take Care,
    ChrisP

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

    “What a time to be young…”
    Indeed, some say it’s a curse, I say its a blessing to be infected with Nostalgia. Lo, I’m so thankful for having had the Op to dance one night in a ballroom to e.g. http://tinyurl.com/c3wwfv6 and the next night in a stinky gym to e.g. “your Gals”. (Can only imagine what the ballroom on Santa Catalina…26 miles across the sea….was like! This is one in MA http://tinyurl.com/2g9ah2v)
    Here’s a pic of Gold Star with a Side A of your Gals http://tinyurl.com/kb8q5og . OMG! Look in whose “eerie” company they were with http://tinyurl.com/knfhreq The question of the day is: will the Beehive ever come back…even a modified version to fluff up the flat headtops Gals sport today?
    Otherwise…who can even imagine cleaning up red cherry stain let alone gooey marshmallow off a carpet…OMG!!!!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ For the days of Woody’s, The Carvery and full, fresh water reservoirs. ~

    ” April showers bring May flowers”. The person who wrote that little quip must have lived in the Midwest.
    A good friend who has lived in the Southland all his life told me he is planting a batch of organic tomatoes in his yard. Can you imagine if the day comes when one would have to register with the water department to get a permit to grow backyard tomatoes?

    The California fresh water issue is gaining national and international attention by each new day. Isn’t it time that the top hydrologists in the world are gathered to focus on what should be done to replace the 200 year old water rights that supposedly are untouchable. Amen !

    Chris, you are right about the subject of two restaurants out front of the office building in Woodland Hills which once housed a Woody’s.
    Just because there MAY BE two side by side eateries in 2015, there is no reason for me to assume that was the case 49 years ago.
    The available parking at Woodland Hills is an issue I had never considered
    until Chris commented on it. Holy crap ! How can you grow a restaurant business with such limited parking ?

    In hindsight, I am now surprised this available parking issue slipped by Mr. Cramer who was extremely well educated in the parking space ratio to customer traffic. ( his Mayfair Markets )
    Yah, I know ….. hindsight is great.

    For Bob of N.M.
    The Woody’s Album is very physical indeed.
    There are now 200 pages inserted into 100 page protectors.
    There are 140 full color photos plus 10 black and white.
    The book weighs in at 6 pounds.

    Chris Pingel was a major contributor, unbeknownst to him.
    Chris would send me batches of photos and ” stuff ” which I was saving in a home office file cabinet. The folder had gotten so big that I decided to consolidate everything. For every photo, I have a narrative giving factual and interesting information. I started last October and am now putting on the finishing touches. I am so pleased with myself for pursuing my idea.
    For me it has turned into a world class treasure.
    ~ A public thank you to Chris for all of your contributions ~ Thank You !

    Now, for the short term, I have to review my options on how to share
    this creation.

    It’s Bedtime in the Midwest.
    Sleep well my friends,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ The reincarnation of Woody’s SmorgasBurger, 2015 ~

    Finally ! Some of you Southlanders will soon have a new burger joint in town
    which I feel comes the closest to my ideal of what a new ” 2015 Woody’s ”
    should look like. The Shake Shack is coming , on Santa Monica Blvd. ~

    The Shack burgers will feature the larger meat patties with lettuce leaf, tomato, and onion slice. ( not available at Woody’s in the first 15 years ! )
    FRENCH FRIES ( also not available at Woody’s in the first 15 years !)
    The Shack is offering six nice embellishments on the plain old hot dog.
    One of which is a take on the Chicago Dog.( Did not see a Poppyseed bun. )
    Woody’s could have done the same with no problems or cost concerns.

    The frozen custard will be a desert item that can be expanded to infinity
    with different fruit and nut mixes.
    NO, IT WILL NOT BE SELF SERVE. I am sure the kids won’t give a s ___
    as they will be to damn excited about getting to eat the stuff once ordered.

    The Shack is enhancing Woody’s strengths while eliminating all the
    riff raff like the fish sandwich, Halibut dinner, melted cheese,
    hamburger steaks, and the commercial grade Top Sirloin steak. NO fruit compote tarts for desert. NO suspenders or straw hats !

    I am getting vibes the Shack will do extremely well because I see in
    their menu photos that they do know how to prep a burger, which only means ; lettuce leaf and tomato slice on the TOP, under the meat.

    Now, many commenters here could not get away with writing the same narrative as I have just offered. But with 775 postings here, no one can doubt my love and goodwill for the Woody’s banner.
    No heresy here …. not a bit, just common sense.

    Perhaps when Chris Pingel or Mark Evanier make their first visit, one of them will give the Shacks owner a tip on SALSA and CHOPPED PEANUTS.
    My grampa always said ” it never hurts to ask or suggest. ”
    I discovered the truth in this little quip during my early dating years !

    Such fun.
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    When will I ever learn !
    My sixth grade English teacher admonished us to ALWAYS PROOF READ.

    In the above Shack burger description …. it should read the tomato, lettuce and onion slices are OVER the meat patty …… not under.
    This place looks pricey for the fries and shakes.
    Burgers and hot dogs look okay.

    Phil

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

    As a ‘vehement’ advocate for some 1,000 Island and chopped peanuts on a Swiss Smorg and if we really be doing a “modern” update, I’d again encourage Folks to look into getting some Chopped Green Chile to bring along to add to their Ideal resurrection of a Woody at a Shakers (tho I’ve never had one) or any “Vendor”. Yo, it only takes two teaspoons, and make it at least Medium, when exploring brands like Ortega’s or Old El Paso on grocery store shelves/freezer or check if El Pinto’s is sold in your area via http://tinyurl.com/nm6zoyg Obviously, the best is to get it freshly roasted to peel it yourself in NM as an open invite to my kid’s patio (Aug thru Sept) to freeze a year’s supply for the plane home! Geesh…we have a whole freekin Trail celebrating eateries for THE Green Chile Cheeseburger in New Mexico
    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BKkBIXWKl0 If in Fanta Se, this be the place: http://www.newmexico.org/green-chile-cheeseburger/ Happy to answer any ???s! E.g. No…it is not just heat, but having a unique flavor/aroma that makes it New Mexican…red or green!

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

    – Regarding Phil’s noting: “My grampa always said ” it never hurts to ask or suggest. ” I discovered the truth in this little quip during my early dating years !”
    OMG…Whoa!!! That gives me insight into what my Dates must have been counseled by their GrandMas!!!
    – Regarding how lettuce/tomato/onion and cheese should be situated, I greatly appreciate BurgerMeisters doing it so as to be a buffer of any liquidy type stuff from access to the bun to prevent sogginess and thus a bun falling apart! IMHO, a toasted bun also adds structural integrity to a bun.
    – Speaking of good Beef: I’m going to get back into healthy living, e.g. BBQing on the Patio. Anyone willing to tout their online FAV for Filets?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    I know all you dudes in the Southwest are still in the crib as I write, but I can catch up with a nap after the Tigers game this afternoon.
    Bob of NM, I need to commend you on your informative postings.
    You most often include links to provide a spotlight on the subject matter
    at hand, and I always learn from them. Thanks for doing this.

    I am very surprised the chopped green chile is not more predominate in the Southland where the ethnicity percentage is very high.
    I am now wondering if the chopped chile is available on the In N Out
    secret menu. Perhaps Baskin Robbins offers it as well.

    In any case, I will try the liquid sauce first as I have seen it on the shelves.
    I have not seen the chopped ” paste like “sauce featured in you link.

    All this reminds me of a recent discussion with Chris on Mexican food.
    I had been complaining that the Mexican restaurants in my area were doing serious menu change outs in a very negative way.
    The traditional enchilada entrée specified rice AND beans smothered in a topping of 100% shredded real cheese.

    Now we get rice OR beans with ” cheese sauce ” ( Velvetta in a squeeze bottle.)
    Anyway, I told Chris that I had given up and I would start making my favorite
    Mexican fare here at home. Well, what do you know ?

    Turns out Chris is a huge fan of the Mexican fare and makes everything from scratch at home with his wife. Not just twice a year …. but twice a week !
    He provided me with a wealth of info regarding recipes and products.
    Rosarita brand for the refried beans and La Victoria for the other stuff.
    The Rosarita web site offers a fantastic array of recipe ideas, about 30.

    So, now when we complete a Mexican entrée , I snap a photo of it, and send it on to Chris looking for approval from him and his wife. Such fun !
    I did not anticipate that our Tostada lunches would be so expensive.
    When you add in the cost of two small Margaritas each… the cost of this in home lunch escalates dramatically. More fun though.

    With inspiration from Bob, I will now try a ” Green Chile ” Swiss burger.
    No Chris ……………… NOT RARE.

    Now, how in the hell am I going to tie all this in to make this an official Woody’s comment. Let’s see ……………..
    Chris, Bob and I all worked at the Woody’s Culver City store. Chris booked 16 years …. Phil (me) 2 years, and Bob perhaps a month on consignment.

    After 50 years we have reconnected by the chance discovery of this Woody’s site which was created by the comic book writer, Mark Evanier.
    We all had fun working or patronizing Woody’s in the 60’s and it is obvious we all continue to have fun here in 2015.

    Perhaps ” Salsa ” is the issue that binds us together. We started talking years ago and lamenting the demise of the Woody’s Salsa.
    Here we are today yakking about …… Green Chile Salsa.
    There you have it.

    Time to warm up with the Tiger pregame show.
    Last night the Tigers were humbled by the Indians, 13~1 . OUCH !

    Next time, we can talk about patio BBQing vs. in house oven/broiling.

    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ******* An important correction regarding web site recipes ********

    The La Victoria web site is the one that features about 30 fabulous recipes !

    I am very sure you will be glad that you proceeded to check this out.

    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Good morning !

    This is a reposting since my original seems to have disappeared into
    the clouds. No harm done if it happens to reappear.

    The La Victoria web site is the one which features about 30 recipes for Mexican dinner fare. I had misspoke about the Rosarita brand.

    Using the Google map site, I found a classic Woody’s / IHOP restaurant in Granada Hills at 16943 Devonshire . It looks to be in excellent shape.

    Spring is here with summer not too far off. Enjoy these coming days
    in good health with safe travels.
    In closing, I will leave you with this favorite quip ;

    ” Common sense is not a gift ….. it’s a punishment, because you have to deal with everyone who doesn’t have it. ”

    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    This posting is a question for Mark Evanier, our award winning comic book writer and the bestest blogger in Los Angeles.

    Is your password gate a permanent deletion ? It would be nice as it may have been intimidating to older, less experienced Readers.
    Anyway, we can use all the help we can get as we approach the #800
    benchmark here at the combined Woody’s sites. Who would have thought ?
    Phil

  • The Management says:

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the question, Phil. Could you rephrase it? — M.E.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, for the last few days I did not have to replicate a password to proceed with my comments. It has been around six months since you changed into the password system. My question is : did you revert back to the older system
    which did not require the passwords ?
    Phil

  • Evan Zang says:

    On February 19, 2014, Mark J posted that he knew me. Mark, I did work at Woody’s Redondo Beach while I was in a cool little rock band called The Royal Teens. We changed our name to The Paper Fortress when we released our record called Butterfly High. Yes, I did own a 1969 Yellow Lotus Europa. Very cool car. I don’t remember taking “girls out for a ride in it” or “working with a bowl on my head” but it sounds like the type of things I would have been doing as a teenager for sure! Good to hear from the Woody’s gang. It was a great time for all of us. Evan Zang

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Memorial Weekend 2015 ~

    I would like to use this space once again to remember two of our fallen soldiers who were killed in action during the Vietnam war.
    This is the third year I have offered a posting and I feel honored to do so.

    Both of these men were employees of Woody’s SmorgasBurger in El Segundo, and both worked together in the same time frame of 1966/1967.

    ~ Stanley Joseph Vossen ~ Inglewood, CA ~ Born : August 24, 1946 ~ Casualty date: May 6, 1968 ~ age : 21
    Laid to rest : Holy Cross Cemetery ~ Los Angeles, CA.

    While at Woody’s , Stan worked on the serving line during the lunch rush hours only. He also attended college part time with an interest in art.
    I love to recall how Stan decorated the store one Christmas season by painting a huge Santa face on the window pane of the front entrance.
    Stan’s beautiful painting gave a unique cheer to the restaurant throughout that holiday season.

    Yes Stan , we do remember you.
    Amen

    ~ Garey Lee Grubbs ~ Torrance , Ca. ~
    Born : July 19, 1948 ~ Casualty date : May 27, 1969 ~ age : 20
    Laid to rest : Fort Logan National Cemetery ~ Denver, Colorado ~

    Garey worked as a part time bus boy at Woody’s during the closing shifts so he could attend daytime college classes at the El Camino campus.
    Garey was a handsome guy with very dark hair, but what I remember most
    was his non stop smile. He was such a wonderful asset to the staff, that his brother Cliff was hired in as well.

    In the time frame in which Carey died, Woodstock would be taking place, and the moon landing would occur shortly in July.
    The hot songs played on KHJ were; ” Sugar, Sugar ” and ” Bad Moon Rising”.

    Yes Garey, we do remember you.
    Amen

    Stan and Garey were two of the 1,857 Los Angeles County residents who were killed in action during that war. A portion of Sepulveda Blvd. in El Segundo has been dedicated to these brave men.

    Although the Woody’s restaurant at 755 N. Sepulveda in El Segundo was closed in 2005, the building itself is beautifully maintained by it’s current IHOP owners. I only mention this because it does my heart good when I bring up this location on the web mapping sites.
    I can remember all the great guys who worked together there with Stan and Garey. ” May I take your order please …. would you like a salad or soup? ”

    ~ Authored by Phil Ankofski ~ Amen

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For those interested in the Carvery /Woody’s unit in Woodland Hills.

    I have recently found several vintage articles from the Van Nuys News
    dated from 1966,67 and 68.

    Mr. Wood signed a lease for his new concept ” Carvery ” restaurant which would feature carved roast beef in a buffet setting. Date: Sept. 12, 1966 ~
    The restaurant would be located at ground level in a new office building at Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Victory. The construction took over one year.

    On November 3, 1967,Ralph Wood hosted the grand opening of his Carvery.
    This event turned into a major disappointment for Mr. Wood as the restaurant failed to generate new and returning patrons.
    Within TWO MONTHS, Mr. Wood made the decision to convert his Carvery into the next SmorgasBurger unit.
    The Van Nuys News features ” help wanted ” ads from January 7th and 9th
    of 1968 asking applicants to apply at the Woody’s SmorgasBurger and ask for Ron Blasio the manager.

    When I first learned of confirmation that Mr. Wood had indeed owned The Carvery, I thought it was up and operating for around one year. No sir.
    These Van Nuys News pieces prove otherwise. ……… only two months.
    There you have it.
    Phil

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