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.

129 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger III

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

    For some of you CC “Guys”, here’s a bit of CC’s “founding” history I ran across taking a peek at “Ships” herein where this link was noted http://tinyurl.com/18r. At the bottom of that link are some possible nostalgia pics for some.

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

    Sorry if link is busted re CC ‘founding’. Try this https://www.culvercity.org/Visitors/CulverCityHistory/CulverCenter.aspx

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

    KISS’ Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will open their 8th Rock & Brews this month in Albuquerque. The news article caught my eye as the reporter went to the trouble to include the fact that seating will be on “picnic table”….apparently he thought that a unique idea!!! Must be a young pup eh?
    Checking the web site out, I also found many of Y’all might not have heard of them, cuz besides ABQ they are in such ‘far out’ places like Overland Park, KS, our old place in Holly-Riv Redondo (is that where they got the picnic table idea?) and yes, El Segundo http://www.rockandbrews.com/redondobeach/
    Too Funny!

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

    Alas, one of the Principals of Rock & Brews has advised he glommed onto the picnic table idea while enjoying a few Octoberfests abroad.

  • Matt says:
  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For the days of Woody’s SmorgasBurger and the Admiral Risty.

    Good morning Readers,
    It is October 1st which means it is time to celebrate yet another remarkable anniversary for the Admiral Risty Restaurant in Palos Verdes.
    This is number 48 and the co owner and staff are marking the occasion while using the theme: ” Memories and Milestones “.

    Ralph Wood was 41 years old when he and his wife Barbara opened this dinner house in October, 1966. Mr. Wood continued to operate the four current SmorgasBurger units with Mr. Cramer as well.
    At the time, I remember Mr. Wood had an overwhelming concern about
    his ability to hire an honest bar tender. Liquor control was one aspect of the business that was new to him and he was afraid of losing his shirt.

    Wayne Judah joined the staff while yet a young man around 1970.
    Wayne himself has more than 44 years of service with the Risty and he became a co owner and general manager very early in this time frame. Well done Wayne !

    Over the years, Mr. Wood put his three sons to work at the Risty at different times and different level of responsibility. Not all worked out as hoped, but that is natural in family relationships and to be expected anyway.

    Mr. Wood is 89 this year and looks great. He is fully retired because he has several health issues and is now residing in a assisted living home in PV.
    48 years is a remarkable milestone in the restaurant business. It is much harder than it looks. Many of you probably have kids that are near 48.
    Mr. Woods daughter lives nearby and takes care of her dads affairs.

    The staff and patrons of the Admiral Risty obviously appreciate the same
    personal qualities of Mr. Wood as we did at the SmorgasBurgers.
    It looks like Mr. Wayne Judah and staff are cooking up some special events and festivities throughout October. I do hope Mr. Wood will be able to participate and enjoy all the good vibes that will surely be coming his way.
    I sure wish I could be on hand as well.

    Congratulations Mr. Wood, Mr. Judah and all those associated with the Admiral Risty, past and present.

    Phil Ankofski

    ~ I will attempt to include a current photo link of Mr. Wood.
    If not successful, you can go to the Admiral Risty web site, then go to ‘Home”
    and then go to ” News “.
    The photo features Mr. Wood in wheel chair with Wayne Judah. ~

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

    Thanks Phil for the Admiral Risty update and link for Mr. Wood’s pic.
    I’ve sent a little ‘note’ off for Mr. W via Mr. Judah asking that he share it with Mr. Wood. Lest others wish to try, wayne@admiralristy.com which I got off the restaurant’s website.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Very nice gesture Bobber ! I always thought you were one of the good guys,
    no matter what Santa says. Count me in as well, I’m aboard.
    Mr.Wood’s daughter sees Mr. Judah very often, so between the two of them they can hand off any email messages on a timely basis.

  • Jackson says:

    Hi there. 2 questions if I might; do you remember a Kenneth Lubow in relation to the Woody’s in Culver city? And do you remember the King’s Arms in Studio City?

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Greetings again from the pacific northwest….although I do miss southern California!

    Chris P. mentioned the cactus mats. We used them in WV, although I don’t remember calling them that. Hated cleaning those things.

    Someone mentioned that it would be nice if we had more customers (like Sherrie!) stop by here and post their Woodys Smorgasburger memories. I heartily agree. I’ll see if can post up some links on some special FB pages I frequent…….

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For the days of Woody’s and other Smokey Places.

    I am not sure if folks here are miss speaking by using the term ‘ Cactus mats’.
    Or perhaps these mats were used at the entrances.

    Duck Boards were used on the line at CC and ES during my days there.
    They were narrow wooden slats connected by strong rubber strips so they could be easily rolled up and taken outside for cleaning.
    This early morning chore was the responsibility of Max who was the 7 day per week janitor. Max cleaned airplanes at night and then cleaned floors at ES and then drove north to clean CC.

    I think Redondo used something like a heavy duty rubber mats that had some degree of cushion to it. If Bobber in NM remembers differently, I will stand corrected. I thought the newer ‘ Rock and Brew ‘ currently on the Redondo site would prove to be a lousy business model, but I guess they are doing well.

    Thanks Matt for your posting on the Tustin store location. I do enjoy learning details such as this. The current site and area looks fabulous, plus the lot size is extra generous for the drive thru format.
    Nothing like a few palm trees to peak my interest. Very nice.

    Remember, this is anniversary month at the Risty.
    For those of you who have an extra $125.00 for dinner and wine (2), why not call Wayne Judah at the Admiral Risty and make reservations this month.
    Ask for a table at the seaside windows.

    I guess Marshall and I will have to make due without.
    All my best,

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

    This is a bit of an aside, but couldn’t resist given my and some of Y’all’s ages and the adage “You’re never too old to learn!” Seriously! None of you Guys ever showed me how to eat a SmorgaBurger et al…Shame!!!! Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/nhp4vpt or am I wrong…LOL

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

    Yes, I’d say there was some kind of rubber mats that could be rolled up at Redondo. Still think I’m “hearing” a clickety-clack when walking on the “mats” at CC?

    Whoa re Rock and Brew. In Albuquerque they completely razed a restaurant and built their ‘mod’ version, which I’m giving them time to get all their ducks in a row before a visit.
    ~ HOWEVER, look what they’ve done to Redondo Woody’s…eeek! http://tinyurl.com/mh6u456 All that remains is the A-frame and if you zoom in, the entrance to Woody’s kitchen area on the left. The restrooms were just outside that entrance to the left and now they are on the other side of the building!!! I’m unfamiliar with the restaurant which was there before and thus a facade that can be seen in this now apparently old view http://tinyurl.com/py7fvlm from Vista del Mar. Obviously, Rock n Brew took that ‘closed-in facade off. Your pic of CC’s Woody’s is what the old Redondo more closely “resembled”.

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos,
    The Redondo Beach Woody’s was completely demolished to make way for the present Rock & Brew.
    There were numerous other restaurants that followed in the old closed Woodys building including one that Ralph Wood started right after he closed the Woodys. It was a Mexican Restaurant. I was there for a private opening.
    It didn’t last too long before being sold and turned into another Mexican restaurant which was better. It lasted for a few years then was sold again and converted to, yet again, another Mexican restaurant, after that it was followed by two different rib places, one was Chicago for Ribs and the other was Tony Roma’s, I believe. Both left and it became another restaurant, I forgot the name. I went there once. It was ok but didn’t last.
    That’s when Rock And Brew tore down the Woody’s building and put their new one on the same spot. It looks like it’s doing very well. When I go by it always seems to be pretty busy. I can’t remember the name of Mr. Wood’s Mexican restaurant was at the moment, but, when I do I’ll let you know.
    Take Care,

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

    Wow Chris, Thanks….that was quite an overview and interesting history. My years as a kid in MA were relatively short before going off to CA for college and it naively seemed, in staid MA, like things would last ‘forever’ . CA was such a shocking contrast in terms of places themselves, e.g. a Big Mac on “every” corner while just one didn’t appear in my home town till the ’70s, and how quickly things changed in LA…albeit, it looks like the same sawdust is on the floor of Philippe’s !!!! http://tinyurl.com/opp36ta

    What threw me off a bit was this Google St. view: http://tinyurl.com/mc9a5o8 (Note the date) After your review, I went back, but this time put my cursor in the middle of the street, clicked, and clicked again and noticed the date change. Put your cursor in the middle and over on the right and while holding down the mouse button move your mouse to the left. The Rock & Brew should come into view…Weird I never experienced that before!
    In the original pic of the inside of R&B, I just figured they opened up that south wall (which was “solid” in the ’60s). Window panels made up the north wall and I figured they just put in a half brick wall for some reason. What also threw me was this closer look near the bar: http://tinyurl.com/q8pj3sd Like I said, the now bricked in area on the left, had doors for the rest rooms and ‘there’ is the door to our kitchen prep area/manager’s nook etc. Where that half brick support ‘pillar’ is, would have been the corner of our serving counter by the register, running off to the right across that marble table and then back of the back of the bar would have been down the rest of our line, e.g. grill/salad area. I just thought the ceiling banners covered the peak. Alas, this is Albuquerque’s R&B featuring a high pitched ceiling and patios as well http://tinyurl.com/m82y54g

    (As an aside to All, this Saturday/Sunday check out ABQ’s International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta where about 550 balloons try to take off (almost) at once 9 AM EDST. Use Live Streaming at http://kob.com, http://krqe.com, or http://koat.com.)

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Thought I would post something new here (or is it new?).
    Lots have been mentioned about ‘other’ Woody’s Smorgasburgers that were open for a while, then closed. I don’t recall (at least recently) about the one in Orange, California. Not sure of the date when this one opened, but it was during the ’69-’72 time frame that I worked at Woody’s Westwood. I was asked to go help train the new line employees when it opened. Later on in the 80’s I made Orange, CA. my home for 28 years, but back in the early 70’s I had no idea where it was. I remember having to drive on the 405 to the 22 to get there, and it was a long way. Did it 2 days in a row as I recall. Anyway, it hasn’t been a Woody’s for a long time, but the building is still there, now owned by Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and used as some sort of office, I would imagine. (The actual hospital is about 100 yards to the left in the pic). The address is 549 Main St., just south of La Veta.. on the east side of the street. Pic link:

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Excellent posting Marshall ! Sargent Friday of the LAPD would be so proud.
    Thank you for the photo link as well.

    Somewhere back in time I came across a registration for the Orange location
    which was in late 71 or early 72.
    Keep in mind Mr. Cramer was getting older ( mid 70’s) and Mr. Wood wanted to continue the Woody’s business model on behalf of and for the benefit of his sons John and Chip who were both in their early 20’s.
    I think this was the reason for the famous ” split ” in 1971 when Mr. Wood and Mr. Cramer split the ownership of the then current six stores.

    I think son John was given the Orange store and when it closed he was put in charge of the Admiral Risty which did not turn out so well.
    Son Chip was given the follow up store in Tustin which had a short life as well. Third son Eric went off to college and majored in food service.
    Eric did put in time with the family restaurants, but I do not know which locations.

    The thing I don’t understand : When Woodland Hills (67) and Westwood Village (68) turned out to be under performing units, why would the Wood family proceed with the Orange and Tustin ventures ?
    It seems to me the handwriting was already on the wall.

    I would love to see additional input on this issue.

    So with Marshall’s posting on Orange , we now have confirmation that there are now three original Woody’s structures yet standing; Gardena , Orange and the beautiful El Segundo store ( which I feel Chris should buy back ).

    ~ I haven’t said HI to Mark Evanier in some time …… so, Hi Mark. ~

    As the months and now years go by, I wonder how Mark feels about learning most of the facets of Woody’s SmorgasBurger. His other restaurant sites cannot come close to the level of information shared here.
    And most of all, it is still fun.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    The days of Woody’s with Bob Anderson ~

    I have very recently learned that during Bob Anderson’s first tenure with Woody’s ( El Segundo ) that he attained the position of area supervisor.
    I am computing the time frame for this to be 1970, plus or minus.

    Since the GM was still around, I do not understand why the additional position of area supervisor was needed at the time.
    No matter, it did my heart good to learn this as I could not think of anyone more suited and deserving for this promotion. Well done Bob !

    Some time later Bob separated from the company and tried insurance sales and carpentry. Later yet, Bob rejoined the Woody’s El Segundo unit as manager when it was then under the ownership of Chris Pingel.
    I do not know the length of Bob’s second tenure time frame so I can’t provide the total number of years with the Woody’s banner, but it was a lot.

    Here’s hoping Bob is enjoying a happy and healthy life.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Just so you know ……..

    I have several friends here that are out and about enjoying travels around the USA. One man is making his way home in N.D. via a road trip which takes him thru several major mountain ranges. Another is riding the waves in the blue Pacific while sipping on Johnnie Walker Blue.
    A gal some of us know has retired from her job in Modesto and is now in Tenn. completing her purchase of a used fifth wheel RV. As soon as she finds a truck to haul this 34 foot monster, she will be off to God knows where.

    As for me, I am raking leaves, installing a new ” all in one ” printer, and starting on my Woody’s Album. I know Mark E. has been at his desk as well,
    so what gives ?


  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Yeah, been pretty quiet on the Woody’s Smorgasburger front. The news from here in the Oregon branch is as follows:
    1. Been catching up with the posts on the ‘News From me’ blog, done by our host. Quite an entertaining blog. I highly recommend it.
    2. Moving #1 daughter from here in Springfield 120 miles away to Lincoln City, Oregon. Rented her first ‘big girl’ apartment – really a nice place – and she’s got a nice new job making decent money for an adult.
    3. Making plans for a So Cal trip. Driving down Nov. 20th in the ‘Way Back Machine’, my 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Safari – yes, a ‘woodie’! I’ll be staying with dear friends and having quality time with #2 daughter. I hear a Anaheim Ducks hockey game is in the cards, as well as a ‘men’s breakfast’ with a lot of old buddys.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    +++++++++++++++ SPECIAL ALERT +++++++++++++

    Hello Readers,

    This posting is for the guys interested in the business model of Woody’s.

    As you may remember, I have long considered the Woodys’ / IHOP relationship a mystery. I could never locate anyone in management circles who would have had the inside track. THOSE DAYS ARE OVER !

    This morning I located and talked to a Mr. LG who is 87 years old and has
    a memory like an elephant. LG lived right behind the Woody’s #1 store
    in Culver City by the fire station during the 1960’s, 70’s.

    Now get this ; His job was with IHOP in the franchise management dept.
    He worked on the SmorgasBurger account as well as the Copper Penny,
    Love’s , and Will Wrights throughout the 60’s, and 70’s.
    LG’s tenure with IHOP and it’s Pancake Houses lasted much longer.
    He remains active to this day as an independent franchise consultant.

    So ……………….. here is the deal direct from LG’s lips;

    The failure of all the Woody’s / IHOPs had NOTHING to do with food quality or a deviation from the operating system or standards.
    Two main reasons for their short life;

    The building structure itself was way overbuilt in size and design.
    This resulted in abnormally high rent/lease payments which plunged right down to the bottom line.

    2) There was virtually zero support for advertising or for any type of promotion. The reason for this situation was that the IHOP PANCAKE
    division was growing to 200 stores on a NATIONAL scope.
    All available funds were directed to the growth and promotion of the PANCAKE division. So, all these small local upstarts like Woody’s, Copper Penny and Loves were left twisting in the wind.

    Franchise operators who bought into this system were screwed royally.
    LG also relayed a surprising fact; When a Woody’s /IHOP location was closed,
    that franchisee did NOT get an automatic conversion right to turn the location into a IHOP PANCAKE HOUSE. Double screwed !

    Mr. LG invited me to re contact him if there are any further questions.
    So, let’s have at it guys. This is a golden opportunity.

    Phil Ankofski

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

    Ok Phil, Per your eye-opener with LG: While previous notes about business stuff were of passing interest, they really didn’t get embedded into my memory cortex. As such and as you referred to there being a Woody’s to IHOP “mystery”, pardon my density but slowly I turn…step by step…inch by inch, to ask some recapping of basic ???s:
    1) Did or did not, Mr. Wood gather up his very own funds (per savings and/or loans) and build CC? My presumption has been that because CC and the others are called “Woody’s”, meant they were of his sole doing.
    2) Did he do the same regarding the next restaurants?
    3) If 2 is “No”, then did he form a partnership with a couple of previously mentioned fellows to generate enough money to spawn more Woody’s?
    4) Was Mr. Wood and those other partners the “founders” of IHOP or was IHOP a separate entity which came along to take Woody’s under its wing? If the later, why did Woody’s et al go under its wing?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Hello Bob and all Readers,

    This posting is regarding Woody’s business model and Bob’s questions.

    In 1954/55 , Ralph Wood and his uncle pooled their funds and built the Culver City store which opened in early 1956. I think they bought the land
    as well.

    Your store #2, was also a newly built structure with Mr. Woods specifications
    but on leased land.

    Stores #3 , 4 , 5 and 6 were all conversions on leases. Costs were paid my Mr. Wood and his uncle.

    Our beloved #7 was a new building on leased land. #7 was an exact replication of Culver City , but reversed. Also no sky lights !
    Opened in early 1963. Again, funds from RW and uncle.

    In 1962, as El Segundo #7 was being built, RW and uncle were offered
    a five year contract from IHOP. The contract allowed IHOP to build and then franchise all future Smorgasburger units.
    RW and uncle received some financial benefit for signing, like stock, lump sum payment, or conditional payments.
    In return, RW and uncle could not build any of their own stores for five years.

    Yes, the IHOP was most certainly a separate entity. Their business forte was
    taking over small local restaurant chains ( as Woody’s and Loves ) and promising everyone fantastic growth under their franchise system.
    The problem was that IHOP did not support these upstarts because they had their own ” pet project ” which was the IHOP PANCAKE HOUSE.

    I cannot answer with certainty question #4 regarding the reasons RW and uncle found this IHOP deal attractive.
    I would offer this :

    In 1959, RW and uncle were offered leases which gave them the opportunity to open Gardena #3 , #4 Figueroa , #5 Fiskehaus and # 6 Vermont all at once.

    VERY IMPORTANT : So, by early 1962 , three out of these four stores were closed OR about to be. Figueroa street #4 was the ONLY winner in the group.

    So what would Bob do ? Say you were about to close three of your locations when someone comes in and offers you a deal that says : we will build all new stores under your banner using our franchise system and you will get a royalty percentage for each burger and shake sold.
    Plus, you would allowed to build restaurants of your own that are of a different venue, like Steak or Seafood houses.

    I think I would have gone for the deal myself.
    That’s it Bob. Do look up the ” history of IHOP ‘ on the web sites.
    It will be very interesting reading.

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Here is the concluding follow up on the IHOP/ Woody’s relationship;

    In 1967, the five year contract was to be expired.
    So, in October, 1967 RW and uncle opened the Smorgasburger unit in Woodland Hills in an office building on Topanga Blvd.
    This too was a conversion lease deal.

    The prior restaurant in this location was called the CARVARY.
    The Carvary may have been originated and operated by RW. NOT SURE.
    Anyway, both operations were under performers and the Woody’s was closed in 1972.

    The next and last Woody’s to be opened by RW and his uncle was the store in
    Westwood Village in OCT. , 1968. Outside investors were invited to participate with a $5,000. LP. ( limited partnership ).
    This store was sold to The Woody’s manager , Steve Dabbs around 1971.

    In 1971. RW and his uncle decided to split the assets, each taking three stores.
    One reason for doing this was RW could then continue to grow the business with his incoming three sons and his uncle could slow down prior to a retirement.

    So, from 1972 onward, the future NEW Woody’s SmorgasBurger operations in Orange and Tustin were done by Ralph Wood and his sons.
    These stores were pre built conversion/ leases. Both very short lives.

    To my knowledge, these were the last Smorgasburgers.
    Ralph Wood and his sons finally saw the handwriting on the wall and began to focus on other food service venues. These too were all pre built conversion/ lease deals. NONE were successful except the Catalina Grill and the extremely long lived Admiral Risty Dinner House in PV which just celebrated it’s 48th year of continuous operations. Well done Ralph !

    I will have to print these narratives off and include them in my new album as there is so much factual information.
    How did you like this history lesson Bob of NM ??

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    One last IHOP contract fact; ~ VERY IMPORTANT ~

    During the five year contract ( 1962 thru 1967 ) Ralph Wood and his uncle were ALLOWED TO KEEP AND OPERATE THEIR ORIGINAL STORES .
    ~ These stores were #1, 2, 4 and #7 . ~

    DONE !
    Phil Ankofski

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

    Yo Phil…Wow! Thanks! By the way, could you put that in one or two sentences??? LOL

    What would I have done? Given the somewhat infancy of “chains”/franchising back in those days and not having knowledge of where it has grown to today, I might have wanted to “hold on to what I gave birth to (with all due respect to Mothers!) and expand on my own” Also, depends what “the stock, lump sum payment, or conditional payments” were. [One of the big things I would have needed to learn…put into practice…was when to cut my loses.]
    ~ Have a Good One!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    For Pat Wilbur,

    After reviewing your tenure with Woody’s, it looks to me like you were being groomed for a general managers position.
    Question; Was this issue ever put on the table for your consideration ?

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

    Pardon…a bit off-topic…but for any SmorgasBurger diners who were Surfers and thought they were Macho surfing during SoCal’s ‘winters’, check out this Dudette & Dude hitting the surf of Lake Erie during its current of “weather”! http://tinyurl.com/n9wp34q

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