Ollie Hammond’s

Click above to enlarge

On La Cienega, roughly across the street from where Lawry’s is now situated, Ollie Hammond’s was a great place to get a real meal at any hour of the day…at least until the place burned down. When Kate Mantilini’s over at Wilshire and Doheny opened up, it originally announced that it would emulate Ollie Hammond’s with a similar menu and 24 hour service. Then it didn’t do either and I’m still feeling the disappointment.

I really liked Ollie Hammond’s. Its prime rib was great…and I always thought it took guts to have prime rib on your menu when you’re that close to Lawry’s. The soup du jour seemed to always be a tasty tomato concoction with ground beef and pasta noodles that people informally but not inaccurately called “spaghetti soup.” On Sundays, they served a corned beef hash that still has folks salivating.

Usually if you go into a restaurant at 3 AM, your choices are slim. The guy in the kitchen knows how to make sandwiches, eggs, hamburgers and not much else. If there is anything else, he’s probably reheating something cooked by the day or evening chef. This was not the case at Ollie Hammond’s. No matter what the hour, you had a wide range of freshly-prepared options, sometimes even including a baked potato. Try getting a baked potato at any other restaurant in the middle of the night.

Click above to enlarge a very old menu

The other thing I remember about Ollie Hammond’s is that they had a waiter who was a dead ringer for actor Bill Bixby. This was not just my opinion. Everyone mentioned it and he once told my date and me that some patrons refused to believe he was not that guy researching a role or picking up a few bucks between series or something of the sort. He said that Bill Bixby had come by a few times and gotten very spooked by the resemblance. I always wondered if anyone who wrote on any of the many shows in which Mr. Bixby starred ever thought to whip up an “evil twin” episode or something of the sort and to hire this waiter to play whichever role Bixby wasn’t playing at the moment.

Below are some unassembled matchbook covers, one from when Ollie Hammond’s had three locations in town. Until someone sent me this one, I only knew about the one on La Cienega. The one on Wilshire would have been near the Ambassador Hotel. The one at Third and Fairfax would have been very convenient to me and I might be there right now having a steak or that great hash.

Click above to enlarge

50 Responses to Ollie Hammond’s

  • Elaine Katz says:

    what about “Dino’s Lodge”? use to go there after work , always after 2a.m.
    I remember sitting in a booth facing the city lights below. I had the eggs benedict….those were the days!

  • Carol kelly says:

    My father was hired by ollie hammond to remove the stained glass windows in the original restaurant. My family owned Donovan stained glass studio,Inc were friends of ollie. The restaurant property was leased. Upon the death of the property owner, the lease stated that the property must be returned to it’s original state. Ollie hired us to remove the stained glass windows. He then hired two buldoozers and had them bulldoze the building back to its original 4 walls. The Windows were installed in the 2nd restaurant. This was before 1975.

  • DFTeresi says:

    My now 82 year-old Uncle shared this with me. My Grandfather owned a produce company and would deliver to O.H. very early mornings. My Uncle would help him deliver. One morning he sat at the counter waiting for Grandpa to finish. A man next to him was reading a paper and drinking coffee. Pointed to various headlines asking “what do think of this” or “That” story. Uncle Ray being a teenager didn’t care and found the man annoying. Grandpa emerged from the back room and bellowed, “Walter Winchell!” I see you’ve met my son! Walter and Grandpa were friendly from then on, WW was a regular there!

  • Jack Later says:

    My grandfather, Clynn Davenport and his brother Harvey owned Pickle Bills. It was a phenomenal success!
    Jack Later

  • Barbara says:

    Being in the restaurant business back in the late 70’s, we would go downstairs to the ‘cellar’ where everyone got a cocktail after work. It was a small, cozy bar and the bartender loved us all, since we would all tip very well.

  • Steve says:

    When did Ollie Hammond leave the 3rd & Fairfax location? We moved to the area in 1964 and I have no recollection of it. I remember my mother taking us to Safeway, Britt’s and Market Basket (where Ross is now) in that shopping center but don’t remember Hammond. I do remember Fisher’s Hamburgers – is that where Hammond once was?

  • Dan says:

    Thank you all for your interesting comments! I live in Evansville Indiana and recently picked up an Ollie Hammonds ashtray at an estate sale. I’m always curious when I find a piece like this, and google led me right to your wonderful stories!

  • Donald V. Engebretson says:

    My mother, then called Dorothy Grass, worked for Ollie Hammonds in the 1950’s as a waitress, probably hostess, and eventually a manager, helping to open a second restaurant. My natural father, William D. Smith, also worked there as a waiter. I was born in 1960 and we moved from the area some time after. My mother kept in touch with a few of the employees such as Vaughn Thompson, a chef, who later became my godfather when I was baptized. If anyone knows what became of these people, I would love to know!

  • Jon Vannerson says:

    Was trying to look up info about The Town and Country, used to be across from the Farmer’s Market. We used to go there sometimes because it was much less crowded than the Farmer’s. That’s when Ollie Hammond’s popped into my ever forgetful head. My dad and I used to go, he loved their steaks (blood rare please) I had totally forgotten about the dollar pancakes! What a treat. Fond memories.

  • Al T. says:

    I guess most people never noticed or have forgotten that Ollie Hammonds had very low to the carpet and still very comfortable leather booths. It was said to have been purposely built that way due to the fact that Hammond was a very short and pudgy man. It had a very comfortable charm unlike most restaurants then and now. Very comfortable for adults as well as kids. Nothing like it since.

    P.S. A lot of clandestine affairs going on in the hideaway basement bar. Also many business deals going on over martini lunches.

  • Deanne Mencher says:

    loved Ollie Hammonds on Wilshire and Hobart… big, comfy place and lots of choices on the menu. It was also a hang out for lots of actors after the play … and I have a very pleasant memory of it and nothing like it exists here today.. Some of the Hamburger Hamlets had the charm of Ollie’s actually.

  • Gary Mortimer says:

    Does anyone here remember a club that was on La Cienega – it was not really a restaurant but I worked the small bar as people walked in, then there was a large showroom where various singers performed, and one was Ann Dee.
    She was pretty well known back in the 1970’s.

    And I can’t remember the name of the place. I only worked there a few months before going on to become the original bartender in the Backlot of Studio One.

  • Ken Uyeno says:

    I loved Ollie Hammond’s, mainly because it was open 24 hours. There was another 24 hour restaurant in Beverly Hills that had an extensive menu and they even offered limousine service for locals. I can’t remember the name. Maybe you can help me out.

    Other notable restaurants not mentioned here are The Islander and Blue Boar, both located on Restaurant row on La Cienega and the French restaurant Robaire’s that used to be on La Brea Avenue.

  • Bob Remen says:

    I think that they had a glass condiment container on each table (with a small spoon sticking out the glass top) containing what I think they called chili sauce, not a hot spicy chili sauce/salsa, but a chunky ketchup-like product that Heinz used to market.

  • Chuck O'Leary says:

    I remember OH so well….mid Wilshire when I was a kid for the best burgers in the world with my dad, and then La Cienega as a young adult working for a couple of ad execs who introduced me to the three martini lunch and the “secret” bar in the basement. (hic!) Learned very quickly to bribe the bartender to water down my cocktails, so I could “keep up” with my bosses, but not spend the rest of the afternoon with my head on my desk (or in the bottom desk drawer!)
    Sad to see it go, but Glad the memories are alive…warms my heart!

  • Bob Bellar says:

    I knew Ollie and his wife very well when we lived in Sonoita.
    I have the front door from this restaurant as my front door.
    He was a great guy.

  • Dennis C says:

    I used to work accross the street and stopped by for a few cocktails. I think the bartenders name was Gary. Thanks everyone for sharing your memories. It warms my heart to read about the days long gone.

  • Claude Zachary says:

    I replied to Donald Walker that, unfortunately, the Fickett archive only covers the 1960 renovation work that Ed Fickett designed for the Steak House.

    I would be interested in any photographs of the Steak House from the early 60s that might be out there. I’m reachable at czachary@usc.edu

  • Donald H. Walker says:

    My dad, Glenn H. Walker, and his small contracting company of 8 men, built the Ollie Hammond Steak House on La Cienega Boulevard back in the mid-1930s.

    After it was completed, he would often take my sister and I to eat there. Our favorite dish was the Roast Beef Sandwich. (A piece of plain white bread, topped with a slice of roast beef, then drowned in gravy. I’ve never eaten anything as delicious in the last 75 years. Ahhh, memories.) My dad died in 1940; a loss for his family and his workers, all of whom were struggling though the depression years. He was quite innovative.

    I wonder if the architectural firm mentioned in Joyce Fickett’s comment has a record of my dad’s involvement.

  • Joyce fickett says:

    C zachary at usc. edu: edward h. Fickett FAIA was the architect for the ollie hammonds restaurant on la cienega. A beautiful coffee table book about the architecture of edward fickett was recently published by Rizzoli. The title of the book is California moderne and the Mid century dream the architectures of Edward Fickett. The entire photographic file for ollie hammonds was loaned to the new owner and never returned. If anyone has a good photograph of ollie hammonds restaurant please contact us at c zachary @usc.edu

  • Syl says:

    No restaurant will ever replace Ollie Hammond’s for breakfast or atmosphere. Best service, best food & best waitresses ever. We usually went to Ollie’s about 3:00am in the 70’s after all night of dancing @ Nicks Fish Market or the Candy Store or the Tennis Club. Those were the good old days!

  • Judi Castro says:

    When my dad was still alive, he passed in 1962 he would treat the 4 of us to OH. Reading everyone’s accounts made me very nostalgic. We lived on Larrabee in W. Hollywood so going to Restaurant Row was just a short hop for us. The restaurants were all so elegant. I was a very young girl, but I still remember the wonderful feel of those red leather booths. My favorite part when we would go to any of the restaurants was to check out the restrooms. OH had an elegant Lady’s room with a red velvet chaise. We would also eat at Lawry’s and Tail o’ the cock. When Shanty’s opened I was older and we ate there once. Loved that it was shaped like a fish. After church we often went to Websters at night and there was a great place out in the valley called the Bull Pen, don’t know if anyone remembers it. Dolore’s was great for their JJ burger and cherry lime rikeys. When I was in grammer school there was the Coconut grove and Moulin Rouge. One of my friends had her birthday party there. My mom loved to go to Love’s for their BBq. Zucky’s was fun, Canters for good Jewish deli, also Nate and Al’s. Born and raised in the area but moved away in the 90’s. I now live in Alabama and have learned to love a whole different kind of cooking.

  • Regina says:

    As I kid, I loved the hunt pictures.

  • Joanne Cohan says:

    Ollie Hammonds had a secret bar in the basement. This was in the 1970’s when executives would often have three + martini lunches. My boss at the time used to go there for lunch almost on a daily basis. I had the pleasure of having lunch there several times. The basement room looked like a comfortable pub and I remember that the bartender had a very heavy hand!

  • Constance W. says:

    Tom! My mother was a waitress there in the 60’s her name was Elvia, but her name tag said “Pat” she loved her customers, and they loved her, I can see her getting ready for work, crisp white shirt, black skirt, and a red vest with brass buttons. She recieved a beautiful tall potted planet delivered to our home from Raymond Burr! ( for her birthday) the only star she really really liked!…..after they closed she went to “Vincent and Paul’s on 3rd, good food but not the same stories

  • Tom Gillman says:

    it’s 40 years later and I can easily relate to many of the comments above — best food for the money!/ friendly staff, no matter where you came from, Studio 1 or B.H. or…/ baked potatoes!/24 hrs!/ But c’mon folks …..what about the grandest thing of all!!! No one’s mentioned………………..THE BIG RED LEATHER BOOTHS! I remember the La Cienega site anyway had ONLY booths — I don’t think there was a chair in sight! Big luxurious glossy lipstick red leather uptown grown up booths that you could put your arms around your immediate neighbor. Slip and Slide! You could eyeball the entire restaurant and it was all grouped in booths. And those chefs — all starched in white with those high chef hats, great looking professionals with everyone watching them. Flip side to it all is that I can’t think of one person that used to go there with my partner Ronnie and me that’s still alive — and that includes Ronnie. All gone and waaaaay too soon. F–k! But Thanks Ollie Hammond’s for doin’ what you did.

  • John Sankovich says:

    Ollie Hammond’s had THE BEST patty melt. Was in college in the early 70’s and it was really terrific. That and Julie’s near USC were my late night haunts. Remember all to copper at Ollie’s?

  • Marck Bowles says:

    I loved going to Ollie Hammonds as a little boy…the stained glass leaded windows, rich leather and copper trimmed banquettes, plush and very classy…
    the savory smokey aromatic steaks and grilled veggies…yummmmm
    the drink they always brought me was called a “Buffalo Bill” it was the little gentlemens version of a “Shirley Temple”..7-up, marachino & cherry syrup
    …does anyone recall the imported “Risque” tiles in the gentlemens lounge..
    I believe they involved a curious Duck?….
    – Marck Bowles – Beverly Hills, CA

  • Arnold F. Perlin says:

    I worked at the local theatres in L.A. during the forties. After closing up at night, their was nothing like going to Ollie Hammonds on Wilshire and Hobart. What a treat…..

  • Vicci Dempsey says:

    My father was a chef at Ollie Hammonds in the 60’s and my mom was a hostess I’ve been there many times at night and the waitresses used to keep us entertained in between serving meals

  • Aston Banniser says:

    Cheese Bread to die for….ordered something else just to get it..really..

  • Mark Kraus says:

    What memories! Ate at the Wilshire one back in The 60’s with my parents after one of my father’s Bridge tournaments at the Ambassador Hotel. Also ate at the Beverly Hills one many times as a kid. My cousins had a house on the next block with their back yard directly behind the restaurant parking lot. A great but now obscure place except to locals

  • Jeanie says:

    Oh how I loved this place. In the 70’s I worked at the Carolina Lanes’s, in Westchester. After closing the whole place down at 2 in the morning we use to drive to Ollie’s for very early breakfast. Man the place was always packed, the food was also great. A lot of the kids that worked in the club, restrauants showed up there. Was a great place. Norm’s is still up the street.

  • Sam D says:

    My ex wife and I worked nights in the downtown area shortly after we got married back in the 1960s. We used to go to Ollie Hammond’s on Wilshire a couple times a week after we both got off work. The food was good and not too expensive and, best of all, it was open 24/7.

  • Patty T says:

    My Dad took me to his hangouts. This restaurant was fun to go to and have silver dollar pancakes. The waiters were so patient with me as a child! I had a hard time making my meal decisions. They would lean over and look me in the eye when they talked to me. I remember those lovely red booths as very roomy. I would ask him to take me to Ollie’s many a time. I remember Dad insisting I use a fork to eat my French fries! White tablecloths made you feel special and formal. I relate this place with private Dad time. Loved it!

  • Dan Brumer says:

    I remember the booths. Slightly curved, red leather seats and backs with an armrests at the inside. I want one.

  • Ron Dominguez says:

    When my brother and I were kids back in the early 60’s our father would take us there for their steak and eggs on Saturday mornings. Those were the best times in my life.

  • Brian Wolfe says:

    When I started selling newspapers as a boy at Wilshire & La Cienege in 1962 I used to get fries at Dolores’ but I always wanted to eat at Ollie Hammond’s. 12 years later I began working in Beverly Hills. At least twice a week I would click the door handle, have the automatic door open and invite me to have dinner at Ollie Hammond’s. My Office manager (which became my Wife) I used to sit in a booth facing the grill. Although I love a good standard steak often I would have the chopped steak which was memorably savory.

  • Steve Liddick says:

    Yes, Ollie Hammond’s had a private dining area. You had to go through a hidden panel in a remote corner of the main dining area. It led to a door to the basement. There was a bar and limited seating for diners. The seating was comfortable sofas and stuffed chairs. Not many people knew about the basement area, so it was never crowded. The food was great and I always enjoyed the secret aspect of Ollie’s basement.

  • Bonnie says:

    Yes indeed, Ollie Hammond’s had a private banquet room in a basement wine cellar. As a group we would go there from time to time after work, and take over the downstairs. This was in the seventies.

  • AndyS says:

    Did Ollie Hammond’s have a private banquet room in a basement wine cellar? And if not OH, does anybody remember which restaurant along restaurant row did?

  • The ChocolateDoctor says:

    When my partner and I were doing restaurant reviews on KABC with Ken and Bob after Elmer Dills left the slot we used to think that Los Angeles was the culinary capitol of the world. We had so many great old traditional restaurants in LA that you could seldom go wrong. Unfortunately most of the old classics being review in this collection have close and are long gone.

    Ollie Hammond’s was one of those great old classics (like Sonoma Joe’s in Northern California). I ate at the La Cienega store only once but was a frequent guest at the Wilshire and Hobart Restaurant. I was working across the street and would go in to grab a burger and fries to go—the fries were fresh-cut and salted in a brown paper bag to absorb most of the grease and keep then fresh and crisp. I think they made their own sweet pickles for the burgers. Later on I got hooked on Ollie Hammond’s for a good steak dinner at a reasonable price day or night.

    Marylyn and Harry Lewis’s Kate Mantilini’s never came close to Ollie Hammond’s. Every now and then I drop in hoping that it might have changed but continue to be disappointed time after time. I guess I have to live with memories of an older California classic–Ollie Hammond’s .

  • Cherie says:

    I had my Sweet 16 at Ollie Hammonds. Still have the pictures and the menu. We had Yankee Pot Roast. Fabulous. Used to go there after a date on occasion……they were one of the few places open real late.

  • John says:

    Once in a while my parents would take me to dinner at Ollie Hamond’s on La Cienega. I was hooked on their dollar size hot cakes and would order them every time. It was a weird dinner I guess, but, I was a kid. The thing I really enjoyed about the restaurant was that you could watch the cooks cooking. Maybe the first open kitchen of its time?

  • Michael Loveland says:

    Ollie Hammond’s did not burn down. There was a fire, but the La Cienega restaurant was already closed. The OH on Wilshire had closed several years before. I ate at both, only once on Wilshire but often at the one on La Cienega. I do believe there was a third open for a while. My references? My father, Jack Loveland, was a manager at Ollie Hammond’s Wilshire before taking the job as General Manager at Chasen’s, where he worked until he passed in 1967.

  • Davi- says:

    In the 60’s we use to go to Ollies after the bars closed… 2:30-4AM. Waiter & waitresses were so accepting of everybody; including all of us…We at the time were rowdy, sort of drunk, dykes who tipped well. Never once were we made to feel any less than the other patrons. We fit in with the other so called night crawlers.

  • Katie says:

    My husband and I live in Tempe, AZ and just came upon a reproduction poster with a cowgirl hitchhiking and advertising Ollie Hammond Rancher Restaurateur. Locations listed are Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Sonoita, AZ. We had just traveled to Sonoita a few weeks ago so loved the poster! I could send you a picture if you are interested.

    Thanks, Katie

  • AMBRO says:

    As a wee tad my family used to got the Wilshire location once or twice a month for dinner. Really good steaks and the best hash. Much later I lived in the neighborhood and it was still really, really good…served a Mid-Wilshire residential and business crowd, also bog weekend crowds on weekends from Rabbi Magnin’s synagogue and the Catholic church across the street. It was a bit west of the Ambassador Hotel and would get all kinds of out-of-towners and crews of films shooting in the area. Sorry to see it go.

  • Craig Printup says:

    Yes! Stern’s BBQ! Also Pickle Bill’s BBQ, it was on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica.

  • Brett Barry says:

    Any chance you can add “Stearns Barbeque” or “Kelbo’s” to your super list?

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