Woody’s Smorgasburger II

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

251 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger II

  • Phil A. says:

    Since my last posting, I have been reading about all the quake activity in the areas we all lived and worked. Marshall is now safe in Oregon and Steve C. is safe in Texas. I would like to learn that the rest of you guys are making plans for a near future relocation. How about the Florida Keys ?

    I came across a SmorgasBurger comment on another site which will shed some light on the last months/years of the Woody’s #4 on Figueroa in Los Angeles. The writer was saying how much fun he and his friends were having at this Woody’s circa 1976/1977. He was describing all the video arcade games that had been installed along with a juke box !

    Now this would not be a Ralph Wood operation. Mr. Wood may well have retained the lease, but my thinking is that he passed the store on to one or two of his sons ( John and Chip ). They were both in their mid twenties by this time. In any case, whoever managed the store during it’s final months was trying new things. It must be remembered that a giant McDonalds had been opened right across the street and yes they had fries.


  • Mark Thorson says:

    My mistake. I didn’t realize Toluca Lake is at least partly in Burbank.

  • Mark Thorson says:

    According to this, the first IHOP was in Toluca Lake, not Burbank.


  • Phil A. says:

    Thank you Pat for sharing the Woody’s/IHOP link. The building looks to be so well maintained, as is the El Segundo store.
    I am still hoping to hear from someone who has a very definitive answer
    as to why ALL the Woody’s / IHOP units suffered such a short life.

    I think it was Gary Wilcut or Dick R. that offered the opinion that poor food quality was to blame at the franchised IHOP units.
    I had thought the monthly franchise fees made the margins to tight for the owner operators. I had brought this question up to Mr. Don Steinke in a recent phone conversation, but he did not have any insight to offer us.
    Don is 81 years old ….. eight years younger than Ralph Wood.
    When Culver City opened in 1956, Ralph was 31 and Don was 23 !

  • Pat Nolan says:

    Here is a link to the Burbank Woody’s after it changed to the International House of Pancakes. It is on San Fernando Road near Burbank Boulevard.

  • Pat Nolan says:

    There was a Woody’s in Burbank. It wasn’t there for long. It became the first International House of Pancakes and the A-frame type structure became the model for IHOP restaurants for decades.

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

    Chris, sorry for the cross-over per message delay getting approved.
    – I thought it might be the Redondo-Holly Riv, but I didn’t quite remember the 2 circular decorations. Obviously those kids look like they were from PV!
    – Lest I missed it being previously answered, was there a Woody’s in Sacramento and Oakland as reported here http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/aframe3.html

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

    Yo Chris… is http://tinyurl.com/mfvbhl7 a pic of El Segundo?

  • chris pingel says:

    Bob of the village.

    The picture of Woodys that is shown is the Redondo Beach store, not the El Segundo Store.
    The El Segundo store is now the I Hop.
    The Redondo store was torn down a couple of years ago and is now the Redondo Brew House.
    I was the person that owned the El Segundo Woodys.
    If you would like any information on Woodys just ask via the Woody’s web site and, If I can, I will be glad to answer any question I can,

  • chris pingel says:

    Please post your e-mail address again. I was the last owner of Woodys in El Segundo.
    I may be able to get you what you need.

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

    This pic is from Google Images http://tinyurl.com/mfvbhl7 claiming to be El Segundo. Unfortunately, when taking our kids to DizLand in the ’70s and finding Redondo’s HollyRiv closed, found El Segundo. Alas, my fuzzy memory doesn’t remember such a view, i.e. I wasn’t ES pretty small?

    Perhaps ya might try contacting the El Segundo Herald and the Daily Breeze re an archive search or run an ad down that way. Good Luck!

  • Will says:

    Is there any way to get some photos of the El Segundo Woody’s? I run a group on Facebook called ESHS ALUMNI (El Segundo High School) and I’d love to go down memory lane with a few photos. Thanks to any that can help out! I attached my email so you can email me :)

  • Phil A. says:

    Hello Readers,

    It looks to be very quiet here lately. I thought my absence would allow more room for some new ” traffic.” Today, I would like to use this space to comment on one of my prior postings.
    The date ; February 12, 2014 ~ 616AM .

    I STAND CORRECTED on a few SERIOUS errors that appear in my mini biography of Ralph Wood. I need to make the following corrections and clarifications. I apologize that the errors were overlooked in the first place.

    In the bio, I had interchanged Mr. Cramer’s name with Mr. Steinke’s name in several of the paragraphs. So here are the needed corrections ;

    ~ In 1954, Ralph Wood and his uncle Mr. Cramer came up with the plans to open a new restaurant. ( Mr. Don Steinke was NOT involved in any way).

    ~ Don Steinke and Ralph Wood had met and worked together at a restaurant owned by Mr. Wood in Pico Rivera. This was after the ” Karrot Kings ” were closed. ( circa 1954/55 )

    ~ Mr. Wood and Mr. Cramer filed the legal documents to form Woody’s SmorgasBurger Inc. ( Don Steinke was NOT involved in ANY way. )

    ~ Don Steinke was NOT INVOLVED in any way with the planning and development of the new Culver City Woody’s. At this point Don was yet working at Mr. Woods Pico Rivera restaurant. ( NOT a SmorgasBurger).

    ~ 1956 ; Woody’s Culver City opens with great success and the store remains so busy that Mr.Wood contacts Don Steinke and invites him
    to join the staff at Culver City. Don agrees and hires in.
    Don was a valued and dependable employee in Pico Rivera and Mr. Wood
    very much needed him at the new Woody’s.
    Don would become manager and at some point was offered a Limited Partnership which did NOT require a financial investment from Don.
    *** This fact was misconstrued by many who thought Mr. Steinke was a full partner on a equal basis as Mr. Wood and Mr. Cramer. ( NOT SO ). ***
    Don’s Limited Partnership would pay some amount of dividends only after all corporate taxes were paid at years end. ( some years were zip. )

    As stated in the original bio, Don Steinke did separate from Mr.Wood in late 1962. The new info here is that Don left to open his own burger joint which was called the ” Nut Burger . ” Don kept his new venture afloat for nine months during 1963 ……. then closed it.
    In 1964, Don Steinke connected with KFC and opened a unit in H.B.
    From here on out, there was no looking back. Don went on to own and operate a significant number of KFC units in both Northern and Southern California. Well done Don !

    The bottom line : With these corrections and clarifications, Mr. Cramer
    is now given his due credit for being more involved as a partner and for being on the scene from day one with his brains and his $$$$$. Well done Mr.Cramer!

    I wanted to get this out for guys like Dick Roletta, Steve Claypool, and Gary Wilcut who worked at Woody’s in Culver City during the earlier years.
    I also needed to do this for Chris Pingel so that he knows the most accurate history possible for the Woody’s Culver City store which he loved so much.

    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    The current cover of Sports Illustrated pretty much shows how I remember the girls in Redondo Beach. When they patronized our Woody’s we may have asked them to slip on their sandals as well.

  • Phil A. says:

    What a good morning indeed ! Ah, for the days at Woody’s SmorgasBurger.

    How wonderful to wake up and find a posting from Steve Claypool. Welcome ! I too like giving credit where due, so was it Gary or Dick who brought you over ? I think it is great to have another guy who was from the ” Don Steinke days “. Plus we now can learn from Steve about the very first days and months of the El Segundo unit.

    Questions for Steve; With your many years of experience and the higher rate of pay, I am thinking you were in a supervisor/ Asst. Manager type position. Would this be correct ? In any case, I do not understand a pay rate roll back when the raises you were given had been approved as you received them. What the hell ?

    Where do you live now ? ( city )
    Which career path did you follow ?

    I am looking forward to many more comments from your ” Gang of Three.”
    ( Dick Roletta, Steve Claypool and Gary Wilcut )

    Yet another name drop for the El Segundo store; Carroll Shelby.
    During the mid to late 1960’s Carroll was doing his Mustang conversions out of a leased hanger at LAX. He would get his haircut at the barber shop next door and then come into Woody’s for lunch. Now that I think about it,
    both Carroll and George Allen looked quite a bit alike.

    A note for Chris P. ; I warned you that I would not leave you.

    Phil A.

  • Gary Wilcut says:

    Steve Claypool,

    It was good hearing your remembrances of Woody’s and my 1957 Ford hard top convertible car, we had a lot of fun in that car. Your remembrance of the cash register job being the cleanest job on the line is very true and you were very good at it.

    I had lunch with Dick Roletta the other day at Jonnies Pastrami in Culver City, naturally we had a lot to say about our Wood’y experiences. Jonnies has not chances a bit in 50 years.

    If any thing in this site jogs your memory, as it has mine, please share it with us.


  • Steve Claypool says:

    As I read through all the contributions, I’m stunned at the many things that you all remember! The details amaze me.

    I started working at Woody’s in Culver City, having had an introduction to Mr. Steinke by a neighbor of mine. I was there for ’60 to ’63 when I was transferred to the El Segundo store…I remember very clearly being on the line the night that it opened. I stayed until 1965 when John Rudburg, decided that I was making too much money ($1.90), and he cut my pay. I was able to go to work from my dad, so I left.

    Many years later, on a trip back to California, I stopped by for lunch and found Bob Anderson still there…I’m not sure, but it seems like it was at least 20 years later and he was manager.

    Most of my memories are more general than those I see here. Of course, I remember food prep., our opening and closing routines, some of the vendors, and our TAB – I loved the tab and enjoyed using it any time one of my friends came into the restaurant.

    Gary’s car was a big hit with me…I don’t know why but, I guess, the novelty of the top going into the truck just seemed terrific.

    Stuart Montros had a motorcycle which I remember with some dread. He managed to talk me into getting on the back of it and travel over the Sepulveda Pass the first week that it open. Now here’s a guy who missed the milk dispenser with a refill (mentioned by Dick) and I was stupid enough to accept the invitation. Needless to say, the trip was wild and I feared or my life – somehow, however, we made it back. I’ve not been on a motorcycle since.

    I saw Stuart some years later when he pitched some land to my wife and me. We didn’t buy and I find myself wondering just where it was and what it might be worth today. Considering that it was Stuart, you probably should be surprised that I remember some kind of audio/visual equipment that he had trouble operating!

    I spent most of my shifts work the cash register – probably because it was the easiest and cleaned job on the line.

    As far as celebrities coming into Culver City, the only one I remember is Rose Marie and her family. She was very friendly and came in often.

    Sorry my thoughts are not better organized, but even as random as they are, they brought a smile to my face. I enjoyed Woody’s immensely and discussions about the place have found their way into countless conversations over the last 49 years.

    Stay well and keep writing.

  • Phil A. says:

    Mark ( our manager ),

    Thank you for your swift and detailed reply. I do understand what you have laid out for us. It is pretty easy to tell which new commenters have missed the boat, so yes we can continue posting an ” awareness message.”
    Most of us are approaching or have past our 70th and all are not equal in
    computer literacy so I thought the ideas might fly.
    In any case, thanks again for your continued attention to all of us here on the Woody’s thread and the other 50 plus restaurants as well.
    Phil A.

  • The Management says:

    Phil, the list on the left is generated by the software and it’s chronological based on when I started the topic. So I can’t move it without a lot of hassle and I don’t think it would make a difference. What’s obviously happening here is that newcomers are joining the thread by clicking on a “Recent Comments” link to Woody’s Smorgasburger II and reading up a bit from whatever message they reach that way. If they were getting to the page by clicking the name in the left column, the first thing they’d see is my little announcement telling them that it’s the second part of a longer thread. If they’re unaware of the first thread, it means they’re never getting anywhere near the start of the second.

    I can change the threads to A and B but I think that’s more confusing. Perhaps you could post a message every so often telling them about the earlier thread? And I will be starting a third one around the time this one hits #250.

  • Phil A. says:


    This posting is specifically for you !
    Your Woody’s SmorgasBurger site has been garnering some new Readers and commenters which is a blessing for all of us.
    What I have noticed is that the newcomers have skipped over the first thread and probably a portion of the second thread.

    So, this idea may help ; On the opening page where all 50 of the old LA restaurants are listed ( on left ) could you reposition the name Woody’s SmorgasBurger II right under Woody’s Smorgasburger ?
    The thinking is that the new reader can be made aware of both offering at the same time and then make the desired selection.

    Also …… along the same thinking ; Woody’s did number their stores from #1 to # 15 . Some new Readers may think The Woodys’ II on your list applies to quips only about the STORE #2. ( rather than SITE #2 )

    A corrective measure might be Woodys SmorgasBurger A and B … with perhaps a letter C needed in the near future.

    Mark, if you think this is a worthwhile and doable idea, it will be fun to see you proceed with the changes. After all, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Thanks for your time and efforts .

    All my best, always.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Let’s see, Mike, doing the math, you would have been working at Woody’s in Culver City around 1958. You may have even served my family once or twice when my family came in (I would have been that nerdy-looking kid of about 7).

  • Mike Hale says:

    I just turned 70 and was thinking about my past jobs. Wood’s was my first official job. I started there when I was 17 it was a hard job to get because they paid the best for part work. That was 1961 big time pay was $1.25 hour. If you worked 8 hours you got a meal for 75 cents. The worst and hardest job was the grill. You earned your money a very busy place. I usually worked 16 hours a week. I worked there over a year it was a fun place and made many friends. I worked at the Culver city location. I was happy to find the interest in Wood’s.

  • BOTVOLR says:

    1) George Allen: Whoa! So, his visits to Woody’s must have been mainly in “The Off” season as your years were when he coached the Rams who were a St. Louis team then? I.e. given his Bio said he died in PV in ’90, he must’ve lived there in your years!
    2) Alas and meaning no disrespect, was Woody’s (OMG even Philippe’s, Rand’s Roundup, etc.) a forerunner of the demise of Sterling WaitStaff service which along with ambiance, e.g. Trader Vics, Scandia, etc., was part of the “dining experience”? Look http://tinyurl.com/lw96la9 how far we are behind (what some might have once considered it as a ‘3rd world country’, as my Nuns never pointed Dubai out to me in Geography class!!!)
    3) Speaking of Nuns is a perfect segue to confession!!! Will Rome offer what Dubai restaurants are offering? Find the pic of your sin on a screen and tap in the frequency so it will fairly, i.e. scientifically, note your penance per a computer assessment of current sinning across, at the least, just our country!!!!???
    4) For what it’s worth and possible relevance to several herein, I’m looking forward to the computerized, colonoscopy robot so I don’t have to be flummoxed choosing a male or female doc! Be that as it may, this http://tinyurl.com/buf8wvg should be most reassuring for those who keep putting this life saving procedure off…it’s a piece of cake.

  • Phil A. says:

    Hold the phone ……..
    My wife suggests I may still be in the dark on the football issue.
    Let’s see; In football, I want my team to smack a little black disc high up in the air and over a horizontal pole which is supported by two vertical poles.
    If successful, the ump declares a ” home run “.
    If the ” home run ” is missed, the other team gets four downs in which to say one ” Hail Mary “.
    Shoot, while at Christ the King school /parish for confession, I had to say ten Hail Marys every Saturday afternoon ….. once a whole rosary !

    Phil A. ( ex staffer at Woody’s SmorgasBurgers #1 ,# 7 and # 2 . )

  • Phil A. says:

    Good morning Readers,

    After seven weeks I can finally see my grass again ! A few days with 45 degree weather and melting snow is lifting my spirits.

    Allow me to be a name dropper for the Woody’s in Redondo Beach.
    My tenure at this store was in 1967/68 which corresponded to George Allen’s career highs. Of course Mr. Allen was the head coach for the Rams, but at the time I did not know a football from a hockey puck.

    Mr. Allen came in for dinner probably twice a month with family members.
    All the guys working the line got so excited and George and his group always had a lot of fun with them.

    I’m off to spend some time outdoors.

  • Phil A. says:

    Mark J. and all Readers,

    How nice to see your swift return ! I assume your story of the human sundae occurred very near closing time. I imagine this kind of stuff went on more than I ever would have expected.
    I do not recognize any of the names you included on a previous comment so I cannot place your time of employment. Please tell us the years you were with the Redondo unit and which managers you worked with.
    Also, are you still in the area, or have you relocated elsewhere ?

    Aside from the sundae toppings, Redondo was a fun place to work.
    Since Redondo had such a huge dining area, I have lamented that I did not bring in live entertainment for the Friday and Saturday dinner hours.
    I can imagine having two female accordion players (18 year olds) who slowly cruised the dining room while playing Tyrolean music.
    In hind sight, I would not have asked for permission from Mr. Wood, I would have just paid them out of my own pocket, and see if they increased business.

    The Redondo burger condiment bar was fabulous ! I think it was made from black Marlite, a material which is very hard and shiny.
    Anyway, the back of the condiment bar ran parallel to the counters last twelve feet. Since the Marlite was like a mirror, the guys working the register and drinks had awesome views of many pretty backsides.

    Of course the cutest were invited to join the Woody’s Birthday Club.
    The application card called for name, address and birthdate. Some guys would add a phrase asking for their phone number as well.
    Such fun ….. and we were paid well too !
    Phil A.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for the reception!
    With a tear running down my cheek, I read every post and relived those days from long ago.
    I will attempt to fill in some blanks and recount a tale from time to time:
    Evan Zang was the fellow who owned the Louts Europa mentioned in one of the previous posts. Many are the young ladies who took him up on his offer of a ride in his sports car. He would be working the line, meet some pretty girl and 20 minutes later they would head out the door and go for a ride.
    He was a great musician and played in bands in the south bay.
    I was cleaning the burger condiment bar located an aisle or so from the front counter where the line ended at the cash register. I heard a lot of laughter from the line area where the burgers were ordered. I could see down the line to where the cold storage doors were located and Evan came around the corner walking toward the grill.
    Evan was wearing a metal bowl on his head… and the contents of the metal bowl were running down his face, neck and shirt!! Cherry toppings, marshmallow, chocolate, chopped peanuts and a crowning river of pineapple covered all of his features except his eyes! He was laughing his ass off and was having a great sport of it all.
    It was a payback for some prank he had pulled on one of the line guys and his sense of humor allowed him to roll with it instead of throwing punches.
    As I remember it, I believe he walked up to the register and started ringing up the next customer. The shocked customers just rolled with laughter and the entire incident ended well.

    more to come in the future!

    Mark J.

  • ChrisP. says:

    That’s a fantastic story, Gordon.
    Your mother and sister were very lucky to have a son and brother like you.
    Do you remember the year that you worked at Woodland Hills?
    I might remember the manager’s name if it was in the early seventies.
    I remember that store well because when the partners split up in 71, that was one of the 3 stores that our group acquired. I also remember when we closed that store and also when the earthquake hit the valley and did major damage to the building.
    Anyway, I’m glad you found out about the Woody’s site and, if you remember anymore stories, please share them.
    Take Care.

  • Phil A. says:

    ” Shiver me timbers “…. another blockbuster name drop from Dick Roletta.
    The first was Don Steinke who had been a mystery man to many of us, and now Mike Love ! I myself cannot fathom Mike Love in the Tyrolean hat and suspenders. Can you ? No matter. One of Mike’s bios tells how their gang
    used to pile in a car and drive north from Hawthorne to the Wich Stand, hang out and then cruise back.

    Now the point I intended to make; With Mike Love working at Woody’s,
    I am willing to make the jump that Brian Wilson was on the premises as well. Not as an employee, but as a companion of Mike who came in for an occasional burger or who was called to give a ride home.
    ALL EMPLOYEES had their buddies from school come in and tease them,
    give them rides to and from work and get free ” tabbed” lunches.
    I do not see how Mike and Brian Wilson would be any different.

    After having said all this, I propose that the city of Culver City should erect
    an on site commemorative display at the corner of Sepulveda Blvd. and Berryman. ” Brian Wilson ate Here when it was a Woody’s ”

    I wish I had know all this back in 1964. I would have been so extra proud to be wiping down the long cafeteria style counter where Brian once stood.

    Hello Gordon,
    You did not mention the time period when you were at Woodland Hills.
    I can help this much : Ron Blasio opened the store in Oct. 1967 and stayed for about 18 months. Mike Schuler was the last manager on duty and closed the store sometime after the Northridge earthquake.
    I do not know who managed this store in between these two men.

    If you in fact worked with Ron Blasio, you may remember that he liked to spend a lot of time down the hall at the stock brokerage firm.
    He would buy some uranium mining stocks and then call the other store mangers and encourage them to buy in as well. Lost my ass on those.
    Phil A.

  • Gordon Ross says:

    After our father abandoned our family in Germany, we were on the ropes and penniless. My mothers parents lived there and she stayed with them and I, as the only American citizen in the family, was repatriated to Woodland Hills and a stayed with a family friend. I promised my mother I would work hard and bring her back to the states… and went to a place called WOODY’s in Woodland Hills. It was unique, unlike any other WOODY’s I saw .. Redondo, El Segundo, etc; as it was in a professional office building, occupying the north half of the main floor. It’s glass windows faced Topanga Canyon Blvd. I was hired as a shift supervisor (my manager empathized with the story of my family and helped) and learned the value of hard work. The reward was the pay, the great management team and the food bennies. I prepared the salsa, I cleaned and serviced the codniment aisle and I really missed french fries….LOL…and now I miss Woodys. As a senior, I forget my managers names and my co-workers, but THANKS all. BTW, I worked about 7 months and saved enough to bring home mother … and we both worked in Tarzana (new job for me) and saved enough to bring my sister back. The family unit was intact again. Months later I joined the Navy and now am retired and ranching in Arizona. Thanks again WOODYS for the great experience.

  • Dick Roletta says:

    Woody’s #1 the guys I remember that worked were Steve Claypool, Gary Wilcut, Chuck Fierce, John Flannigan, Stu Matros, Dave Miller, Randy Ewing, and so many more. Many great memories.

  • Phil A. says:

    Welcome Mark ,

    WOW ! You are are one lucky SOB.
    We have just passed the #400 th comment on this site and there are so many that refer specifically to the Woody’s in Redondo. Many have been posted and published in the original thread here which runs from # 1 to #240. So Mark, do yourself a BIG favor and invest some time and effort
    by STARTING at the very BEGINNING.
    Also, when you return please use a last name or initial as we have several Marks with us already.

    Why not introduce yourself and then follow up with the time periods you worked at Redondo, which managers you worked with, and which owners did you know ? ( Ralph Wood, Don Steinke, or Mr. Cramer )
    Then share several interesting/fun quips that the rest of us will enjoy hearing about as well. Remember, we are all near 70 or older so there is no need to be shy. So Mark, let’s hear about those great times from you.

  • Dick Roletta says:

    Mike Love of the Beach Boys worked at Woody’s #1 . He left the first week I was there to cut his first record. Rod Serling of Twilight Zone use to come in, always in the late evening, to order two steak sandwiches to go. Karen Black use to come in with her mother for lunch alot. Just a little trivia.

  • Mark says:

    Let me add a few names to the mix:
    Evan Zang (music man)
    Mike (GTO Mike)
    Pat Taylor (surfer)
    Jim Husar (VW kid)
    Mike (station wagon Mike)

    All worked with me at the Redondo Woody’s. We had some great times and would appreciate any notes, memories or stories you care to add.

  • Mike Webb says:

    I think this web should be renamed the Woody’s Smorgasburger II forum what do you Think ??

  • Phil A. says:

    Good Morning Readers,

    If my elementary school math serves me correctly, Phil ( me) came in at the number # 400 Benchmark at 5 PM . ( 240+160 ) Let’s have a party !
    With my excitement in getting the King Karrot bio published, the #400 faded to the background. Bless the ” Chicken King ” for following up .
    Anyway, on Feb. 13th Chris followed with #401 three hours later at 8:25 PM and Vinny posted # 402 five minutes after Chris.

    If someone was engineering all this, it could not have been done more perfectly as the 2 year anniversary of the this site is February 13, 2012.
    100 postings in the first year and 300 comments in the second year !
    How would you like to own a restaurant with these growth factors?

    I have learned in these past two years that Mark Evanier is one of a kind.
    Thank you Mark for providing us with this forum which allows the rest of us to stay connected. Truly grateful.

    Now, about the party ; How about Gentleman Jack with cake and ice cream ?


  • ChrisP. says:

    Great to hear from Vinnie. I appreciate all your kind words and we all appreciate your insight about Woodys.
    Who’s #400?


  • Phil A. says:

    Chris, Gary and all Readers,

    Thank you guys for the kudos. As Paul McCartney sings ; ” all I need is a little help from my friends .” Together, we make this so easy !

    Yes Chris, I did leave out the Risty. I was so focused on getting facts and dates laid down for the SmorgasBurger operations that I did pass it over.
    Sorry Mr. Wood. I would suppose that Mr. Wood considers the Risty as the crown jewel in his career, so leaving it out of the lineup is a serious issue indeed. Having Chris join in so swiftly is yet another example of the value of having many devoted commenters.

    Vincent ; Your description of the # 7 stairway is certainly beyond reproach. The vivid details made me feel like I was back 48 years standing right there in the hallway. I would be standing with the Patman Meats driver checking out his invoice and signing off. Thank you !

    I am feeling a little perky this morning. The price of silver is finally crawling up out of the basement and it’s Valentines Day.

    For Chris: When I spoke to Wayne , I mentioned that I think of you as the ” Chicken King ” and he responded that he had a nickname for you as well, but I cannot recall the name. Please share !

    To all the Readers here; ZAP ! You’r Morganized ! ~ Robert W. ~ KHJ ~

  • Vincent Chiesa says:

    Wow! this thread is really moving right along. I have been off here for a couple weeks and now a lot of reading to catch up on. This one is going to be short, and to answer Phil on the fold-down stairs. I really can’t remember where the stairs was located in the Culver City store. But I clearly remember in El Segundo it was not in the dinning room. The stairs was located in the hall within the dishwashing area (1976 ~ 1985). If you were facing the back door, the dishwashing area was to the right. The mini-office was just before the back door to the right with the safe and the bun racks bolted to the wall over the desk/safe. The grill was opposite (behind you, if facing the back door). The bottom of the stairs would extend just to the walk-in cooler. Then to the left, was the door going into the dinning room, and an employee closet/broom room (later I believe it became the area for the 5gal soda boxes which replace the drums). Once the stairs was extended down, it bottle-necked access to a lot of areas since the hallway was not very wide. Up in the attic was the water softner, bulk tank. and compressors.
    Oh! and I loved those brownies and the strawberry pies. When I started at Woody’s I was 127 IBS, when I left I was about 180IBS (haha). All I can say is that Woody’s was quality you don’t see much of these days! (so much for a short reply). Vinnie

  • ChrisP. says:

    Thanks, Gary.
    I wish I had more time to devote to all this. I really enjoy connecting with everyone.
    Phil really goes out of his way to do all this. I have to applaud him.
    Thanks, Phil.

  • Phil A. says:

    Watch out Chris and Gary , I may come after you guys in a 1960’s biography. I already have the title; ” The St. Bernard’s Boys. ”

  • Gary Wilcut says:

    Phil Ankofski,

    You and Chris Pingle are truly historians and have chronicled Woody’s life as accurately as possible. CONGRADULATIONS !

    Have you considered posting a narrative to Wikipedia.

    Gary Wilcut

  • Chris P. says:

    You forgot to mention The Admiral Risty, the dinner house which Mr. Wood opened on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1968. It’s still operating and doing very well. Wayne Judah has managed it for many years and became Mr. Wood’s limited partner a few years ago. He still there.
    Ralph and Risty would go there almost nightly for many years for dinner because they lived close and just liked to hang out.
    Phil can fill anyone in on early details of the Risty.
    Take care,

  • ChrisP says:

    Mr. Cramer took me to lunch at Cassell’s in the mid seventies. I worked for him from 1972 till late 78. We became good friends and business associates and did a lot of things together until his death in the mid eighties. He was one of the finest men I’ve ever known.
    Thanks, Phil for all your work putting all this together.
    Chris P.

  • Phil A. says:

    King Karrot and the Smorgasburger

    The following narrative was composed from facts published by two separate newspapers. The items which pertained more to Ralph Wood were published by The Palos Verdes News on Jan 28, 2009. Facts relating to Barbara Wood were published by The Daily Breeze on June 8, 2012 as part of her obituary.

    And now, for the rest of the story…..

    Ralph Wood was born in 1925. After high school, he joined the US Army/Navy. He served in 1944 and 1945.

    While Ralph was in the service, his high school sweetheart Barbara was enrolled at Mills College. In 1945, Ralph and Barbara were married while she was still a coed at Mills and he was on a 30 day furlough.

    After the war, Ralph enrolled at Occidental College and together they lived in the veteran housing on the Occidental campus. Ralph earned his degree in Economics, and Barbara worked towards her degree in Spanish.

    Barbara graduated two years ahead of Ralph and when she did, she found work as a translator.

    During Ralph’s college years, he worked summer breaks at a seafood restaurant on Balboa Island. He may have worked full time there after graduation for a (very) few years. Ralph’s experience at this seafood venue would come into play later in 1960 when he opened The Woody’s Fiskehus in downtown Los Angeles.

    In 1952, Ralph opened his first food service venture called The King Karrot Juice Bar. It was located in his father’s or uncle’s grocery store. Soon, he had three additional juice bars, which were located in three Mayfair markets. The growing chain of the Mayfair Markets was owned by Charles Cramer (Ralph’s uncle) and Edwin Fox.

    The King Karrot Juice Bars were destined to have a short life. Not because they were not profitable, but because in 1953, Mr. Cramer and Mr. Fox sold their Mayfair Market chain to the Arden Farms Corp. At this point in time, Ralph Wood lost his Juice Bar locations because the Arden Corp. wanted their space to sell groceries and dairy products.

    In late 1954, Ralph Wood and Don Steinke came up with plans to build a brand new restaurant from scratch. It would feature larger hamburgers, salads and shakes. The service would be cafeteria style, and NO FRIES! Just like Cassell’s. I do not know how Ralph and Don came to know each other.

    Mr. Wood and Mr. Steinke together formed Woody’s SmorgasBurger, Inc. and began to go to work. The year 1955 was spent on legal issues, site selection, building plans and finally, construction in Culver City. Woody’s #1 opened in February, 1956. The residents of Culver City, Westchester, Mar Vista, Venice, and Palms were all great patrons of Woody’s for many years.

    I never learned who submitted the idea for a Swedish Tyrolean theme for the Woody’s SmorgasBurgers. I now suspect it was Barbara Wood. I also suspect Barbara remembered the features she liked at Cassell’s Hamburgers in Los Angeles and encouraged their replication at Woody’s in Culver City.

    There are many strong similarities between Cassell’s of 1948 and Woody’s SmorgasBurger of 1956. To my way of thinking, it is no jump at all to conclude that Ralph and Barbara incorporated many of Cassell’s ideas. But this has been the way of business since Adam & Eve. Plus, they all made a lot of money while having a lot of fun and self satisfaction. What else is there?

    Ralph Wood and Don Steinke remained partners until late 1962. During the period of 1956 through 1962, they opened six separate stores and closed three of them. 1962 was also the year that Mr. Wood signed the five year franchise agreement with IHOP. This agreement prevented Woody’s, Inc. from expanding on their own. This deal would terminate in 1967.

    It is my opinion that Don was probably in serious disagreement with Ralph on the IHOP issue and therefore decided on the separation. When the separation did occur, Charles Cramer (Ralph’s uncle) joined Woody’s SmorgasBurger and thus became an equal partner with Ralph.

    Mr. Cramer and nephew Ralph continued this business model for another nine years. In 1963, they opened El Segundo and later in 1967 Woodland Hills was opened. Westwood Village followed one year later.

    In 1971, Mr. Cramer and Mr. Wood decided it would be in their best interest to “split” the business assets of six units. Each man took control of three stores and their destinies. They each could choose to continue to operate their own stores, sublease, sell outright or let leases expire. For additional in depth details regarding this “split”, I would have you direct your questions to Chris Pingel, who was on the scene at the time and who became the future owner of Culver City and El Segundo in late 1978.
    Chris will be delighted to assist in this regard.

    I am happy to have completed this project. It is what I enjoy doing.
    As always, I welcome any and all comments. If any parts of this narrative have raised further questions, I will be happy to respond.

    February 12th , 2014
    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski
    Phil Ankofski – February 2014

  • Phil A. says:

    Good morning Readers,

    As promised, I have returned to this space with this narrative which celebrates the second anniversary of this Woody’s site. Feb.13th, 2012.
    I am thinking Mark Evanier must be feeling like a proud papa in that he is the originator and manager of this site which has grown and matured.
    The recent facts presented here regarding Don Steinke enabled me to finally put all this together. Thank you all for your contributions.

  • Phil A. says:

    Regarding Mr. Randy Ewing;
    For those who might be interested, I posted a short narrative about Randy on the original Woody’s site. The date of posting is Feb. 14th, 2013.
    It is easy to scroll down a bit and locate it.
    I describe Randy in action on Hamburger Steak Night at # 1 ~ plus I give a description of his fabulous Mustang.

    For Chris P. ~ Since Ty M. separated from Woody’s in July of 1966, who was the manager who rehired you a few years down the road ?
    I think by then that Culver City was staffed by guys I did not know.

    For Gary, ~ Remember to tell us about lunch at Johnnie’s. I only assume you will be meeting Dick R. and perhaps Steve . Fun.

    It is finally warming up here in Dublin, Ohio. 27 degrees on Wednesday.
    Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is this Friday. Who wants to make reservations at the ” Risty” ? Maybe they offer Halibut Steaks ! ( tee hee )

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    I love seafood…..
    That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of Woody’s halibut steak or fish sandwich. Maybe I wasn’t good at grilling them. It always seemed they turned out dry and flaky – especially the halibut.

    Switching topics…….
    I could REALLY go for a Woody’s chocolate shake in the frosty silver goblet – hold the cherry and whipped cream, please.

  • Phil A. says:

    Last perhaps, but in no way the least;

    I am referring to Mack, the man who did the morning janitorial duties for so many years at Woody’s. Mack had the contracts to mop floors, and clean the restrooms at both the El Segundo and Culver City locations.
    I remember him working alone most of the week days, but on weekends he had another person with him. Perhaps his wife or another man.

    Mack had some work ethic. His full time job was at night, cleaning airplane interiors at LAX. Once off duty, he drove to the El Segundo location, did his work there and then drove to Culver City to clean.
    We certainly did not engage in any long conversations as Mack was already beat from 11 plus hours at three locations and wanted to get home.

    Ray Bailey, who was our opening man and also a man of color, did kibitz with Mack on occasions. These guys were both very hard workers.
    So, here is a toast to Mack and Ray. Hope they are doing okay.

    Phil A.

  • Mark Thorson says:

    I don’t know if a plate would be as worthwhile. It couldn’t hurt to try, though you might want to check whether the family already has some. They might already have plenty. My mom has managed to break most of her glassware over the last year or so, though not any plates.

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