Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

This forum has gotten too big so I’m closing it to further postings. Feel free to respond to anything here but do it over on Woody’s Smorgasburger V.

596 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s SmorgasBurger, Inc. and it’s Seven Secrets ~

    Secret # 1 ~
    ( Oh hell, I’m too tired to start in now. ) Rather indulge my memory of Pam.

    Both Pam and her sister had magnetism in other areas besides their names.
    Both girls were CALLIPYGIAN beauties sporting a 34 B bra size and longer flowing brunette hair. Hazel eyes with lashes that said ” Maybelline not needed”.

    My memory would place her height at 5′ 8″ while barefoot at the PDR beach.
    The ocean breezes were getting cold, but I was warm …… so I was told.

    WTF ….. this is getting out of hand ! I am supposed to be writing about burgers, broilers and grease traps. Now I have to come up with facts about Woody’s; A Smorgasburger was .49 cents in 1965.
    Ralph Wood’s middle name was Moore.

    Thanks Bob for the Seinfeld link ….. so much fun !

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

    Nice stab, Phil! Too funny! At this point, I’m not sure what brought the query up. Maybe it was just stretching…a weird linking if you will…of what Marshall asked: “…what local (famous) SoCal locations (some now gone) (“or person”…LOL) did you never make it to (“do”)? Ya know, it’s kinda like my referring to the infamous Pan Am Stewardii that apparently led you to recall your dates with “Pam”. BTW, I was initially impressed you started off with Disneyland, but then…on second thought, wasn’t admission in those days like 3 bucks for the packet of A-B-C-D coupons for rides compared to 100 bucks today…? LOL
    RE your quite detailed review of not only of where Stews lived, but how they lived, what they liked to eat/listen to, and the psychological dynamics of what motivated them to enter the profession, I’ll be discrete (lest your wife is reading this over your shoulder) in not asking where did all that come from?…LOL In any event and like Kramer and Seinfeld experienced, just the name “Pam” has a certain magnetism as attested to herein http://tinyurl.com/y9n9w97u

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, Chicken Delight? I remember it being much better than KFC, especially the “Broasted potatoes.” There was also a great chicken place on Avenue A (or B) on PCH in Redondo called Mr. C’s Broasted Chicken. Again, far better than KFC, and it was a fast food staple at our home until it suddenly closed. This reminds me of another burger joint in Redondo, on PCH, called Clancy’s. Sort of a poorly run version of McDonald’s. It closed after multiple reports of food poisoning. And let’s not forget Taco Tio, also located on PCH in Redondo. Taco Tio was established several years before we ever saw our first Taco Bell, the latter of which opened so many units that Tio was forced to quietly fade forever into the night, but not from my memories.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Marshall and Mark welcome back. To first answer Marshall’s question, my yellow 1969 Lotus Europa was taken away from me by a drunk driver while I was enrolled at UC Berkely. In 2009 I purchased another yellow 1969 Lotus Europa on eBay. I kept the car for 6 years, never registered it, but drove it like a maniac late at night around our Scottsdale neighborhood. I eventually sold this second Lotus, mainly because it needed an owner that would love it enough to take it through a full “off the frame” restoration. I think it is the ONLY time I sold a car for more than I paid for it.

    To respond to Mark’s story, I don’t remember anyone being drunk while working (although I’m sure it happened) but then I wasn’t paying much attention to details in those days. It sounds like I missed out on a very funny night, sort of like the time I had an angry customer throw his steak at me! (See previous post).

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s SmorgasBurger Vs. Chicken Delight ~

    Bob , I don’t know where you want us to go with this, but I’ll take a stab at it anyway…….
    Most stews lived in the apartments south of Imperial Hwy in El Segundo.
    Three or four girls shared a two bedroom.
    By the time they got home for the day they were beat and hungry and so what did they do ? …… they called Chicken Delight. ( broasted chicken with fries )You must remember at all times that Woody’s did not have fries !
    Nor were there juke boxes like Johnnies Pastrami.
    No banana splits or a three page menu like the Penguin Coffee shop.

    Woody’s was great for the high school kids who wanted to hang with their friends after the Friday night football game. Now you couldn’t make much progress with a stew in that humble environment.
    Besides, girls became stews to date the pilots, like nurses want the doctors.
    Speaking for myself, I don’t think my yellow shirt could impress like a Pan Am pilots cap.

    All this reminds of this short aside ; Jerry Walter and his girlfriend set me up on a blind date (Pam ) who lived in Santa Monica with her parents and her twin sister Pat. Both girls were out of this world beautiful.
    Unfortunately, I had only three dates with Pam.
    On one of the dates Pam shared this story : On one occasion, both sisters were having lunch at a restaurant and they spent some amount of time discussing their parents and how wonderful they were. Well, there was a man in the next booth who had overheard the girls and decided to express his delight by paying their check. Beauty and brains with gratitude !

    Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight !
    ~ Our three dates; Disneyland , Bruno’s Pizza and the Playa del Rey Beach. ~

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

    ​Ok, Ok, Woody’s was not the Biggest Rodeo at the time, e.g. compared to La Cienega Blvd, i.e. Restaurant Row…e.g. Lawry’s, let alone Dino’s or Scandia’s along Sunset Strip, but neither were Chicas between “dates” to take them there….i.e. a Stew on layover at LAX.
    Nevertheless, LAX was between CC and El Segundo/HollyRiv-Redondo AND Stews had to eat! Did None of you Yellow/Orange Shirts never ever ‘score’ anything? Didja miss out on an era of laughable opportunity!!!!​ Evan back in ’11s there was this TV series http://tinyurl.com/y99tw4aa that highlighted what was the Elite of Stews back in “our” time …i.e. what Sharrie Williams might have (tho she didn’t) flaunted about the Saffrons of Culver City!!! Sooo…here’s the trailer featuring the Queens of the Air and which I thought would’ve made for a great second season, but didn’t.
    Bottom Line: Did any of you HOT Buckaroos that ya claimed to be…SCORE!…i.e. at least take one (anything resembling a stewardess) to Woody’s some weekend night or were ya All Wussies? (Eh! I was engaged at the time there! LOL!!!!!)

  • Phil says:

    ~ Farmers Market and Woody’s SmorgasBurger ~

    I enjoyed your 4 minute video link on the Market. It is dated 2009 which is
    probably why I saw ONLY 3 food handlers using the latex gloves.
    Who knows where their hands have been during the past 12 hours !
    Makes me shudder.
    Woody’s was just the same, perhaps worse. The linemen were running around all over the place while doing their chores, and then when a customer showed up at the window he would make their salad and handle their burger.
    The last step would be to ring up the sale and handle all that dirty money in the cash register. Next order please………..
    ( and this was AFTER being in his high school classes all day ! )

    Sound like I’m down on Woody’s today ? HELL NO ….. this was the normal for everyone, everywhere in the food handling business.

    A little hilarity and history for Evan.

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

    Too funny Mark! Certainly you must have become a novelist in later life! One can only imagine you have some other “Tell All” stories you are being so discrete (or well paid off) in holding back…LOL
    Great! Another confirmation of the doppelganger!
    Salud! Slainte! Na Zdrowie! As nothing might compliment a SwissBurger/Mattehorn like a http://tinyurl.com/y7ftahds

  • Phil says:

    ~ and who hasn’t got ripped with Southern Comfort ? ………

    Looks to me like Mark H. took a typing class at Redondo HS.
    His most recent posting is probably the longest ever.
    Thank you Mark for sharing the vivid account. Such fun to remember that stuff. ( except the part of blacking out with Southern Comfort )

    Most of us are aware of the ” mystery shoppers ” which most restaurant operators use to some extent. I myself feel the service is of limited value
    because the hired person making the report has no food service experience.
    It would be like me doing a report on an auto body repair shop. WTF !

    While at Woody’s, I had never heard of a ” spy service ” that might come at closing time and observe the ” doings ” from across the street with binoculars.
    I had never heard that Woody’s managers or area mangers were asked to come around and spy on their stores late at night. I never did. ( too tired )
    I think every restaurant which employs teens has similar experiences as Mark describes and the fun can turn to big problems when alcohol is involved.

    Our group at Culver City # 1 was a pretty tame bunch during ’64, 65 and 66.
    After closing and the doors were locked, we just sat around in the back parking lot shooting the breeze and listening to Dave Fujiwara play the latest Dylan songs with his guitar.

    The biggest policy infraction that I was aware of involved Randy Ewing who was the closing assistant manager. At closing time , Randy would bring his new 1964 Mustang around to the back door which he had propped open. We then could listen to his newest Rolling Stones tapes on the 8 track player.
    Randy turned that sucker up full blast so even the linemen up front could do their one hour closing chores while listening to ” The Last Time “.

    Of course the policy was that the back door was to remain closed and locked
    at all times. In hind sight, I am now wondering why the CC police did not
    give Randy a friendly tip about this serious transgression.
    We did not know the officers by name , but we all knew each other by sight from the routine patrols they performed nightly.
    Anyway, somebody eventually spotted this back door situation and reported it
    to Mr. Wood and of course Randy was fired.
    I had been out of state on vacation when the firing occurred so I learned of it upon my return. I liked working with Randy a lot and I missed him.

    Phil Ankofski

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

    Yo Marshall: Ta da! RE your first G-kidlet. Don’t spoil, but be engaged as you wont believe how quick time flies!

    Alas, I don’t know whether “living” near Santa Monica’s Penquins is present or past:
    For shame, ya ain’t been to Farmer’s! While you can find other vids, this ‘today/then’ vid http://tinyurl.com/y8yk3y8e, is kinda fun. About 4 years ago, my teen G-daughters/nieces had more fun there than the “cool” Grove next door. Back in the old days, there was an NBC (TV?) studio next door where “Stars” could often be seen slumming by luncheoning on the common food patios of Farmers. Bought a pinkie ring with a blue star sapphire back in the day. EH!!! it was the “in” thing!

    Alas, never made it to Perino’s. Presume you made it to all the places on the left; I never made 90%. Hope you don’t list Trader Vic’s/Don the Beachcombers/Rand’s RoundUp and, tho still “alive”, The Pantry and Philippe’s as “Nevers”?

  • mark husar says:

    Reading Evans post about the “doppleganger” has kindled some memories of the morning inspection of Redondo Woody’s by the very somber management individual.
    Give me an opportunity for the set-up:
    Evan and Jim were part of the line crew, and there were a couple other guys I cannot remember on the line. I was the busboy that night. The “District Manager” informs the store that there will be a surprise inspection the next morning and the place better shine!

    Talk about a panic! With a few phone calls a couple of additional guys showed up to lend a hand. The crew at Woody’s was a tight knit group of guys willing to forgo the hot date on a Friday night just to help their buddies when needed. In fact, other times I recall driving from Redondo Beach to the Westwood area (I don’t know the location, but Jim called it Westwood) in Jim’s VW to help out with work that needed to be done.

    Soooooo, the restaurant closes up and we all are assigned our work duty for the evening. I can remember scraping the floors in the bathrooms, the dish wash station and making absolutely certain that there was not a spec of crud anywhere. The guys on the line were the same way…scraping, wiping, polishing and arranging everything just perfectly for tomorrows inspection.

    Wellll, work like that can build a really powerful thirst in all these guys. So someone volunteered to make a run to a special liquor store where he could pick up some adult beverages for the bunch of us. Just to make the long night pass by a little more comfortably! Sounded like a good idea!!
    45 minutes later he was back with a cornucopia of distilled beverages, most likely vodka, Jim Beam and my favorite….Southern Comfort!!

    Everybody grabs a glass of some sort, pours up a mixed drink and we all socialize for a few minutes. This is where things got a little hazy for a mid teen male such as myself. In no time one drink turned into three and before the clock strikes midnight I am stuck up on the mezzanine over the line (what would you say…10 to 12 feet up?) with double vision, absolutely no coordination and borderline liquor poisoning. I am pretty sure a couple guys came up on ladders and kind of dragged me back down to the floor. There I lay in a puddled mess for what seemed like hours, but was only a matter of minutes. So much for me doing any more of my assigned duties.
    Ohhh, but this is just part of the story.

    I manage to get to my feet, find my buddy, SC, and load up a little more courage to help me find my way into the back room.
    “What the hell is this ladder doing here and where does it lead to?” Perfectly good questions that demand exploration and answers right this minute! So up the ladder I climb to the somewhat flat part of the roof at the rear of the restaurant. Stumbling around on the roof in a drunk stupor is just a crippling accident waiting to happen. But wait, there is an even more dangerous ridge peak just within grasp that begs me to dare climb up and see the world from on high.
    So up I go onto the ridge and I begin my best impression of a drunk Charley Chaplin walking down that really steep roofs ridgeline. Oh yes, people were yelling at me and it didn’t take long to figure out someone had told the guys inside that a crazy kid was walking up on the roof.
    All the guys were trying to yell me back down without falling and really causing problems. But their cries fell on inebriated ears. I was up here and I am staying!!
    For a moment anyways. Looking down into the parking lot, the liquor caught up with me and I took a really short drop and a loooong slide down the tile roof to the planters below. I landed on the Palos Verdes Blvd side of the building along with about a dozen tiles that decided to make the trip with me.
    Honestly, I don’t remember anything after I hit the ground.

    The rest of the story is my brothers first hand account of how they got me the hell out of there.
    Several hands grabbed ahold of me and I wound up in the back seat of someones car for the short drive to home, near Prospect and Ave B.
    Jim got out of the car, opened my door and helped me achieve some kind to posture at the curb. He led the way into the house right up to the old man…DAD HUSAR, who took one look at him and growled “you been drinkin’ again boy”.

    “Where is your brother at?”

    Jim’s response (as sober as he could act) “Right behind me, Dad.”

    Wellll, not exactly right behind him. Dad and Jim came back outside to the street where I lay right where I had been pulled out of the car. Dead drunk in a literal pool of liquor vomit down in the gutter of the sidewalk.
    I was so low that if they had just looked out the window towards the street they would never have seen me

    I didn’t really come to for a couple of days. I was so sick I could barely move, couldn’t eat or drink and I relieved myself where ever I was. I couldn’t find my way to the bathroom if my life depended on it.

    And that’s the way it was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s in Redondo Beach.

    To their amazing credit, the guys at Woody’s covered for me and I was back working in a few days. However, I did deserve the ribbing they gave me for the rest of my time there at Woody’s.

    Inspection? Passed with flying colors.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Wow…. I’ve been absent from this forum longer than I thought…….

    New addition to the family on October 1st – 1st grandchild Jamie Iris Wilson was born to our oldest daughter Shannon and Josh Wilson. (They’re living with us too!)

    Questions, we have questions……….
    1. Evan Zang: What happened to your Lotus Europa?
    2. You guys who were around when the charcoal was used – how did you (safely) dispose of it on the closing shift?

    And comments……
    I also saw an article on the Santa Monica Penguins restaurant re-opening. I believe my dad may have frequented it for morning breakfast when he went out on his milk route, back in the late 50s’ / early 60’s. As for myself, living within a few miles of the location……never went there.

    Which begs the question, what local (famous) So Cal locations (some now gone) did you never make it to?
    For me…..
    – Catalina Island (still there, but doubt I’ll make it)
    – Helms Bakery tour (might have been sick the day of the school field trip?)
    – Santa Anita and (now gone) Hollywood Park (actually couldn’t care less about horse racing….)
    – Farmer’s Market in Hollywood…yup – never been there (But I’ve seen the pictures – so it’s ALMOST like I’ve been there!)
    – Lawry’s Prime Rib restaurant

    Lots more, but I’ve been sitting here for 5 minutes without another coming to mind, so we’ll stop here.

  • Pookie says:

    ~ Still laughing with this one ………

    I was reading some McDonald’s customer comments and this one had me roaring : ” The paper receipt has more nutritional value than the food.”

    Had a much better lunch today : Chicken Lo Mein at our favorite place.

    Our Barbara Ann driver at Woody’s CC #1 was Ralph .
    How is that for memory ?

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s bun provider ~

    No need to correct me. I found the bakery used the traditional spelling
    for ” BARBARA ” .

    Thanks Bob for posting the link for King’s Hawaiian burger buns.
    I added them to my grocery list and hope I can find them.

  • Phil says:

    ~ Barbra Ann’s Buns ~ ( the bakery that is …. ! )
    Woody’s SmorgasBurger was a longtime customer of Barbra Ann Bakery.

    The Kaiser Rolls were always so soft and yet firm, and they yielded to a second cut on the crown when making the Matterhorn sandwich. The first cut was made at the bakery.

    ( I need to check if there was an extra ” a” as in Barbara . )


  • Phil says:

    ~ Paprika at the Woody’s SmorgasBurgers ~
    Yes, the paprika looked nice on the potato salads and fish sandwiches.
    It was also sprinkled on the Halibut steaks as well.

  • Phil says:

    Suits were much to formal for the Woody’s SmorgasBurger men including the owners. It was always white shirt with sport coat or cardigan sweater.
    Most of the time it was just the shirt and tie.
    I cannot speak for Mr. Wood’s attire while working at the Admiral Risty.

  • Phil says:

    Bob of NM ,

    I pick ” dour ” fffor the Woody’s man.

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

    The Kaiser Roll: Indeed a ‘signature draw’ of Woody’s! Ooo eee…did they come pre-cut into 3 parts? I remember once having to cut them by hand at CC, but don’t remember doing that at Hollywood Riv/Redondo.
    Ooo Ooo…speaking of buns, t’was first introduced to Steak-Umm in LA, i.e. never had ’em in MA. Rediscovered them a couple of months ago. If anyone had ’em way back when and do not know, they exist today!!! E.g. http://tinyurl.com/yajdjk5h in-store; probably this aisle http://tinyurl.com/y9pvgwly. Anyway, packaged sliced sourdough wasn’t cutting it, so last week picked up some King’s Hawaiian Sweet Deluxe Hamburger Buns http://tinyurl.com/ycx9c5s5 . Toasted lightly; brushed with mayo: and sprinkled with cheeder, Bell Pepper, Green Chile, and onions all diced is beyond superb! Maybe call it an Albu-Q Chile Cheese Steak Sandwich…no offense Eagles.
    Elsewise Phil, always keep a can of Spam on the shelf or slices of round steak (bologna) on hand to fry up when cravings hit. I just discovered my 20ish yr old G-daughters have never had a fried bologna sandwich. I feel I failed my Daughter as a parent!
    – Woody’s Chilled Macaroni (san cheese) Salad? Besides option to garnish with a black olive(?), didn’t we sprinkle with paprika? Was it protocol at all Woody’s to crosshatch fish filets and then melt a pat of butter and sprinkle with paprika to color this Entree? Or was that just HR/Redondo? Pardon lest I repeat myself….LOL

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

    Whoa Evan, you are quite a ‘detailed’ person who makes a vision of “Tony” come alive, albeit I don’t remember the glasses. Also, as he always stood (silently…looking sullen or dour – take your pick) at Woody’s elbow by the side counter to the right of the register in Hollywood Riv/Redondo, I couldn’t tell if it was a suit or sport jacket (dark not grey), not seeing his pants, let alone shined wingtips…LOL!
    “…he wore the “established uniform of authority.” Now that’s a turn of a phrase (which, in itself, shows my age…LOL)
    – Interestingly (cuz I never saw such a thing before) I met the (attractive) Gal who covers the Red Lobsters in NM the past 3 years, while she was literally “working” the floor one busy pre-holiday eve this December…i.e. pitching in. It was tempting to go into my ‘flirty’ mode as she had one of those warmly, vivacious (but not faux) personalities, even after working 22 years for RL. That personality was even on display a couple of weeks later while doing a ‘serious’ inspection…e.g. checking the floor drains on hands n knees in the bar area. Alas, she got high marks from the Bar-Man who’s been around for 8 years!
    Be that as it may…Thanks for the description and confirmation as it always seemed strange no one brought him up herein over the years.

  • Phil says:

    It’s my lunch time here at the house and I cannot find anything of interest.
    So now I am lamenting my days at Woody’s where I would be enjoying a Swiss Burger on a toasted Kaiser roll. Add a lettuce leaf and salsa plus a side of potato salad. The Lyons root beer sounds good but would skip the too sweet brownie.

    Mary Ann is offering to share the mac and cheese she has selected, so I may have to go with that.


  • Phil says:


    For an Arizona guy in his mid sixties, you sure display one hell of a memory !
    Nice job on the district manager.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, Bob and to all of the devoted souls who are still posting, sorry for the late response. I seem to recall a doppelganger “Anthony Perkins” looking guy that would randomly inspect Woody’s Redondo. It wasn’t Ralph, of course, and I always assumed he was our district manager. He was a serious looking fellow about 40, cropped black hair with distinguished grey tones, black glasses, clean shaven, immaculate grey suit, pressed white shirt, black tie, black belt, and polished black Wingtips. In my mind he wore the “established uniform of authority.” I remember that I never saw him smile, and during his “tours” of the premises nobody else was smiling either. The constantly revolving Unit Mangers seemed to fear him for some reason although I never heard him raise his voice or observe him behave in a threatening manner. Aside from the manager, the rest of us were “the invisibles,” the kitchen and counter employees so low in the hierarchy that the “district manager” barely noticed us. He spoke to me only once, asking me if I had any questions for him about my job or the company. I didn’t. As much as I enjoyed my job at Woody’s, even as a kid I understood that my future in the food business was coming to an end.

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

    I love coincidences! http://tinyurl.com/y6vy66sp Proceed if you’re Phil noting “I attended Sunday Mass there for many years on a rotating basis. My other choices were the Loyola U. chapel…..” If you mean Loyola MARYMOUNT University, http://www.lmu.edu/gallery/ (1st row, 3rd pic) ala Winchester, that brings to mind two ‘connections’/Bacon’s 6 Degrees of Separation. a) In the Fall of my 1st year at USC, frat brothers took us up there one afternoon for what was, in those days, called…’an exchange’* when it was a completely Chica campus!!! (*We did one at Queen of Angels School of Nursing as well!) I don’t know how that came about, but think our Prez’ GF was somehow trying to make connections for LMU’s Chica’s. Anyway it was a stilted bust altho I was quite impressed with the setting of LMU being “exclusive” up on that hill!
    Elsewise, just several years ago, I ran into Carol Costello doing an AM news show on CNN who I thought was kinda cute, i.e. before I knew her conjugality. Anyway, turns out she was married to a Dude named Timothy Law Snyder. Seriously? what kind of a name is that AND he was a PT prof at Berkeley…NO not there but Seriously, that was Berklee School of Music in Baaahstan which I never heard of growing up 25 miles to the north. In any event, Carol and he must’ve commuted until he was elected President just a couple of years ago at Loyola Marymount U!!!! About a year ago, CC apparently got tired of the NYC to LAX commute and moved to CNN’s HLN in LA. Bottom line? I may have a connection to LMU if you need it! e.g. getting change for the basket/collection plate; a pew preference; etc. Now! ain’t ya glad you had to bring that up?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ F – – k retirement ! ~

    I now want to return to Santa Monica on a longer term basis and work with Steve Weiss on his current project of restoring the Penguin coffee shop at Lincoln Blvd. Steve has taken a long term lease on the property and vows to bring back so much of the old vintage staples as well as some new stuff too.
    WOW ! A 24 hour coffee shop coming back to life in May, 2018.
    I hope Steve can rehire some of the old staff as well. Such a hoot.

    I would work with Steve in any capacity, and probably for free.
    As you can tell, I am very excited to learn this news ( Mark’s blog ) as I could never understand why SHIP’S and other diners closed when there are 9 million people in the area. They All can’t love the IN N Outs.

    Could/ would Steve do the same with the Woody’s SmorgasBurger ?
    I don’t think so. By 1971 , the business model of Woody’s was no longer profitable, and today the folks at Wendy’s are happy to dress your burger a hundred different ways.

    I wish Steve huge success, and I look forward to following his progress with the Penguin Coffee Shop. I will also start looking at available rentals in the Saint Monica’s Parish neighborhood. I attended Sunday Mass there for many years on a rotating basis. My other choices were the Loyola U. chapel and Saint Anastasia in Playa del Rey.

    PS ; Steve Weiss is the owner / operator of the Mel’s Drive Ins.

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Preserving the Old # 7 ~

    I was touring the Sepulveda Blvd. in El Segundo and was delighted to see some really nice property updates. The IHOP received a new exterior paint job using SIX colors ! I think it looks spectacular and I am so pleased the owner has the budget to maintain the old Woody’s SmorgasBurger #7 structure. I may write him a letter.
    The IHOP owner also worked a deal with his neighbor to get additional parking rights on the old Sticks and Steins lot. Good for him !

    Moving south for one block, I see the Carls Jr. is well maintained too.
    Across the Blvd. to the East , the EPL is sporting a new patio along with a couple of yellow flags. Well done guys.


  • phil says:

    I have been aware for several years that Cassell’s featured ” made from scratch ” lemonade and potato salad. Now I learned Al made a great grilled cheese sandwich for his patrons as well. He never even considered fries.

    Doesn’t ALL this sound so familiar ? Where am I going here ?

    Ralph Wood may have popped with the Tyrolean suspenders, but he sure did NOT originate the menu offerings at his Woody’s Smorgasburgers.
    PLUS, Al Cassell had his self serve condiment bar 8 YEARS before Woody.

    Prior to Woody’s first store, he along with his wife and uncle all went to college or worked within blocks of the Cassell’s Hamburger store in LA.
    They had 8 years to dwell on Cassell’s success, and then cherry pick the ideas they would use in Culver City #1.
    The above is not derogatory, after all, this is how business forges ahead.
    Sam Walton spent countless hours investigating inside the K Mart stores,
    talking to employees ( on the sly ) and patrons alike.
    He found the biggest draw for female shoppers was NOT a sale on Bounty paper towels or Tide soap ……. but I giant cardboard bin of assorted panties.

    All this might be akin to Evan Z. learning about the drummers that went before him. This way he did not have to spend his time reinventing the wheel.

    Phil A.

  • phil says:

    Bob of NM ~
    Well now, how in the hell am I supposed to sleep tonight ?
    If charcoal was in Redondo in 1962/63 …. believe me , you would have known
    because of all the extra work, especially at closing.

    So ….. I guess the odds of charcoal being the original installation at Redondo
    comes in at a 50/50 bet. We will need a new commenter who worked in the store say around 1959/60.
    Although Don Steinke did not work the store on a regular basis, he may have worked there on occasions for training new hires, etc. Help us Don !

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

    Ha ha…ya got me Phil! I can’t sort out trying to imagine “it” from reality of “it” RE charcoal vs gas.
    Short Answer: http://tinyurl.com/pkwgo94

    Elsewise: As, in my mind, being a GrillMan (pardon my not saying GrillPerson as, in our time, the Person who grilled was not possibly female) was possibly the top of the line (Pun intended)…even above some of the yellow/orange Shirts…and as it was known from the git-go I’d be leaving in less than a year, I sensed I wasn’t in line to become a GrillMan, and so I didn’t pay attention to what was between the grill and the sheetmetal(?) trash bins below….LOL On the other hand, bringing it up jogs a couple of things lose: 1) My memory keeps hearing “charbroiled”: how can that be done without charcoal which I can’t however envision seeing briquettes being put under the grill. In addition, I recall later in life, Dairy Queen’s burgers having a distinctive…great….taste being charbroiled vs what I tasted at home on my gas-grill. But then I remember having to stay late, albeit not often, in HollyRiv and being surprised about the cleaning of the grease filters and can’t remember if I saw something about “the charcoal” ashes during that process. Sorry and whoa is me and my otherwise sterling memory!!! LOL

  • Phil says:

    ~ How many drummers can play AND sing at the same time ? Our Evan can !

    The Woody’s SmorgasBurger stores had many lineman who could provide the complete customer experience all by his little self.
    This applies to the slower times of the day ( 1:30 to 5 and 7:30 till close )
    The lone lineman could take your order, prepare the salad, broil your burger to perfection, serve your Lyons root beer, and then ring you up on the register.
    ( all with bare hands without gloves )

    I guess the sub shops can perform this way as well, but not any burger places that I know of.

  • Phil says:

    ~ Was the charcoal overrated ? ~

    I know the charcoal broiler was changed OUT from Woody’s in Culver City in 1963 or perhaps late 1962 for the natural gas broiler unit. So ….. now I am wondering if Bob of NM lived and worked with a charcoal broiler in the Redondo store ??

    Since Bob was a 1962/63 lineman, he could have been around to witness the charcoal change out in Redondo as well.
    OR …. perhaps Redondo NEVER had charcoal to begin with in 1958 !
    When plans were being finalized in 1957 for Redondo, Mr.Wood may have realized the error of his ways and put the gas broiler in as original equipment.
    Bob just might know this.

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

    Yo Phil…thanks for thinking of me and the CC/Torrance ashtray. Alas, besides its price (i.e. Ha ha, do they “really” want to sell it?) I am sadly only 12 years being ‘belatedly’ into not smoking…LOL Alas, I fear if I bought it, I’d think it only right to sit and have a cig ‘for old times sake’ as I blathered herein!
    Say, you/anyone know what Woody http://tinyurl.com/y73x4mpa is holding in his left hand….a pipe with “smoke”?
    – As I presume you are registered with Ebay Phil, might you Contact the Seller…over on the Left at that site….and ask him/her the provenance of the ashtray and reveal their story in relation to Woody’s by giving him/her the addy for the Blog?

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

    Yo Mark and Black Tooth: Thanks for your updates RE The Brownies. My first recollection of seeing an infused Brownie, which apparently is legal in CA today, was circa ’70 here in NM, a year after my arrival. Given they were treated as no big deal, I’m assuming they’d been around awhile. For an intriguing reason, there was a ritual attached to their eating. Foodies laid on the floor and a container of water was placed just beyond their head. The plastic thingy that held a six pack of beer was cut in such a way as to make an elongated/continuous “string” that was attached to a coat hanger hung from the ceiling. The very bottom of the plastic string was light. Droplets of lit plastic would slowly drip to the water apparently producing an ecstatically mesmerizing reaction from the viewer. Did anyone hear of such a ritual in CA back in the day?
    Moving right along…I can’t envision any kind of glassed doored compartment by the door to the kitchen in my time that could have later been used for Brownie display at Redondo, let alone CC….must’ve been a new construction?
    Alas, my picture of what was to the Left of the salad area is faded. If there was space, would seem the best spot to lure buying for those in line waiting the Salad Man to finish; elsewise, no room just beyond the GrillMan’s glass for impulse buying or near the register?
    RE a Man Called Dick: Alas! apparently no resemblance to Anthony Perkins.

  • Phil says:

    ~ A 1958 ashtray ~

    I was perusing the EBay site where I found a Woody’s 1958 ashtray !
    The two stores imprinted are Culver City and Torrance.
    If the ashtray was 1959 or newer, it would list Gardena and Los Angeles as well.

    I think it is a unique offering although very, very pricey.
    The seller is looking for $75.00 plus shipping.
    Since Bob of Los Ranchos worked at both of these stores, this ashtray would be the perfect memorabilia . Take a look Bob.
    Let me know if you are taking action.


  • Phil says:

    ~ Thoughts on 1971 and Bob Anderson ~

    For Mark H., Evan and others too.

    During 1969,70, and 71 , Woody’s Smorgasburger employed a man by the name of Bob Anderson as an Area Supervisor. Bob was one of the guys who came up thru the ranks starting as a lineman at El Segundo.

    During this time period, the Redondo store was one the stores Bob was responsible for overseeing. I mention this in the hopes that at least one of you guys had interacted with him during your tenure.
    Bob would have been making his store visits/inspections at different times of the day or early evening so there is a chance, I guess.


  • mark says:

    Hello Phil,
    Response to your question:

    The employment period was 1971 or so.
    Manager…I honestly don’t remember but the name Phil comes to mind.

    I will contact my brother Jim, who worked the grill and the line with Evan.
    Perhaps he will have a sharper memory!

    Brownies. In the Redondo location the seperated brownies were kept on a tray, in the refrigeration area behind the glass doors that allowed access to them. The refrigeration was located just on the line side of the doors that provided access to the back room from the line.
    Yes, a warm brownie with a dab of vanilla ice cream and the sundea topping of choice was heavenly!

  • Pookie says:

    ~ beef and buns ~

    Since the previous posting had a somewhat negative tone, I thought I would revisit with a more positive spin. The Woody’s SmorgasBurger stores had excellent systems in place for making sure all incoming food stuffs were properly rotated at the time of delivery to insure freshness.
    The Barbara Ann Bakery man was responsible for making sure his bun racks were aligned so the oldest buns were used first.
    The Patman Meats driver did the same for the meat patty baskets.
    Corsaro Produce drivers also rotated the lettuce and bags of potatoes.
    These drivers were ALL a great bunch of guys…friendly, efficient, and honest.


  • Black Tooth says:

    ~ deserts with dick ~

    Bob, the brownie desert offering came a bit later since you were a 1962/63 man at the Woody’s SmorgasBurger in Redondo. You did not miss anything to be sure. Most were eaten by employees since they were free on break time.
    The brownies were made by Martino’s which was a local bakery in the area.
    They were baked on a full sheet and then iced with a chocolate frosting .
    Much too sweet for me. I didn’t even care to scrape off the frosting as the brownie itself was most often stale. Starting with the full sheet, the bakery would cut at least 48 pieces. ( perhaps even more ).

    The deserts were displayed on a slanted shelf on the back wall just down the line from the Radar Range. The brownies would be on display there for 12 hours while the store was open and then put in the walk in cooler over night.

    The brownies were a terrible sell thru item because the regular customers knew the chances of them being fresh were almost nil.
    At the time, the airlines were offering individually wrapped deserts to their passengers , and this would have been a much better way to go at Woody’s.

    Woody’s had monthly manager’s meetings and every so often the desert offerings were discussed, but nothing came of it ….. until the fruit tarts.
    Unfortunately, the tarts suffered the same problem; stale product.

    Bob, you were asking about the general manager and his duties.
    There would be a visual inspection of the property outside and the walk thru inside to see that the staff level was sufficient and presentable.
    His full name may have been Richard, but a lot of guys called him Dick.

    Black Tooth

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

    Brownies? Brownies? Are you saying Woody’s was way ahead of his time compared to what’s just recently started up in CA?
    Help me visualizing where the Brownies were “kept” at Hollywood Riv and CC? I just can’t picture them, but, on the other hand, can readily fantasize, if they existed, putting dollops of marshmallow goo and cherries, from the D-i-Y Sundae bar, on them!
    – “….we probably could have done away with the general manager.” Lest I’m forgetting, did anyone ever confirm and describe who/what he did? or as I described him as shadowing Woody and being somewhat of a doppelganger for Anthony Perkins http://tinyurl.com/y8oj3vtl ???????
    – “Bob, give us a product review on the Brandy Chocolates.” Alas and technically, they are titled Brandy Beans. As not quite seen in the link, there are 24 of the little suckers as big as up to the second knuckle of my index finger in length/width. Per my own palate bias, they are the bittersweet DARK….not milk….Chocolate and apparently German chocolatiers have a hand in their making. The box says Maximum Alcohol Content 4.9% V/W. Indeed, I’ve chilled them as recommended. Up until now that ya pressed me, I’ve popped one in my mouth and chomped down whereupon a cool, liquidy sensation enveloped my palate. To be fair comparatively, I just now “tried” to let the chocolate melt. Whoa! after a bit of scrumpdilisiously enjoying the chocolate, a slight bit of brandy teasingly oozed out compelling me to chomp down for the sheer tasting pleasure of the melding of chocolate and brandy…OMG, what can I say!
    Hope that gives you some idea of what Y’all are missing! Much more sophisticated an experience than those “overly” sweet, chocolate cherries that first sooo delighted us many years ago! Hope that helps in taking a chance on buying them….IF ya can find ’em!

  • Phil says:

    ~ Black Tooth and a Woody’s brownie ~

    To finish up on the Radar Range : Yes Bob, the potatoes had to go in naked without foil just like today. Many employees used the range to warm up the
    brownies during their dinner breaks.

    To finish up on the tech stuff: We all know that cameras can be everywhere,
    but I kind of forget this as I go about my errands, etc.
    About a year ago, I learned how restaurant owners/operators can rig their stores with cameras to oversee the employees activity in real time.
    The owner can be sitting at home watching the Dodgers game and watching their employees working their asses off …. all at the same time !

    If the Woody’s SmorgasBurgers had the same camera set up , we probably
    could have done away with the general manager. Plus, my shake throw and Evans steak zinger would have been caught on tape….. just like Black Tooth throwing a pie.

    Bob, give us a product review on the Brandy Chocolates. We get into Traders Joe’s on occasion so it would be easy to pick up.


  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, I used to feel exactly the same as you about technology until the 80’s, when technological advances began to directly influence the quality of my work, to the point where it even began to impact my personal life. For example, thanks to modern technology, such as digital remastering, we get to see what Bogie and Bergman truly look like in Casablanca, and how Bob Dylan actually sounds when he belts out “Like a Rolling Stone” on Highway 61 Revisited. Indeed, if not for digital remastering, I wouldn’t be able to watch and enjoy those “lost forever” episodes of Soupy Sales! Plus, thanks to technology, I get to send pristine images of our new granddaughter to friends and family around the world, instantly, perfectly, and best of all, for FREE! You see, “Technophobes” don’t hate technology – they simply fear trying it, and, perhaps, even liking it! Change is inevitable even if we don’t want it. And speaking of change – Thank goodness for that first little creature that decided to climb out of the primordial ocean and take a few tentative steps onto the land. Without him (or her?), we most likely wouldn’t be here to chat about Woody’s Amana Radar Range or anything else. Anyway, I better stop here before I get lost in the “Apple Cloud.” Phil, I’d be honored to be your “Techno Guide.” I bet in less than a few weeks you’ll be tossing that ancient flip phone of yours into the nearest trash can!

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

    Hmm….lest you forget: a bunch of dinner time baked potatoes were also zapped at once in The Radar Range and then put in a “warming drawer”. Ok I’m fuzzy: were they cooked naked and then wrapped in foil? or was the Radar (v microwave) energy different reacting to foil? By the late ’70s, 1980 at the latest, I bought my Vieja one for Mom’s Day, having succumbed to demos of scrambled eggs in a coffee cup or boiling water….LOL I went the whole 9 yards buying a turkey size Lady Kenmore being 23Wx15Hx17D. I’d sure have a hernia moving it today….YES!!! it still works!
    – Geez Phil, I’ve had 3!!! consecutive flat screens…42 is the max I’m going. My first computer was ’83 bought in a K-Mart as a Commodore VIC 20 about 0 apps. Fun was making up one’s own by programming using a really really great manual teaching you BASIC language…I think a 6th grader and a teacher created it for us non-geeks. I made a Poker app and a Psychologist doing a interview via algorithms…e.g. next queries where based on algorithms re response choices. What kind of storage was available? Ha ha….program data was stored on audio tapes via a tape recorder! Alas, the “computer itself was incorporated in a roughly standard sized keyboard you hooked to your TV. $299 less paddle and recorder http://tinyurl.com/ybg25h9b
    – Alas, I’d be happy if my first ’02 flip phone still worked…only keep a cell for emergencies….e.g. ’00 Firebird wont start, and for pill reminder/wakeup alarm. I.e. I don’t get sophisticated Es so as to take a break from being on my Desktop ‘puta all day….LOL! Anyone remember this: http://tinyurl.com/b75xlp6 ?
    – End of the Year Tip: Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans received as a gift! http://tinyurl.com/y88lrn88

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ White Fang and the Melted Cheese ~

    The Woody’s SmorgasBurgers featured a very unique piece of kitchen equipment, but it was positioned on the front counter directly behind the grill. This location offered perfect access to the grill master so he could finish off well done Hamburger steaks and produce the melted cheese sandwich.
    ~ The Amana Radar Range ! ~ When I joined Woody’s in 1964, the ranges had already been installed in all the stores, so I don’t know when.

    Since the range was stainless steel, it blended into the wall so I am thinking most customers never even noticed it. Those that did always expressed some degree of wonder and interest ……. lots of questions.

    My mother and four sisters came out to LA for a visit in 1965 and they all were so impressed with it’s ability to heat and cook with no cleanup.
    This small window of time was the last time I impressed anyone in showing off anything related to electronics.

    Smaller microwave ovens soon followed the Radar Range into all homes except for mine. I was DECADES behind my sisters in having one.
    I was the LAST to have a flat screen TV. LAST to have a cell phone by YEARS !
    Still no Ipad, IPhone, I tablet, or IPoo.
    Still no Kindle , laptop, or Echo.
    I have a very old HP tower which I do value for the net, email, Google maps, and Utube for music and Prime Rib roasting tips.

    This subject came to light because Evan is encouraging me to start 2018
    with lessons covering all those electronic ” things “.
    I am sure the lessons will not happen for one reason only; I hate change.
    Anyway, thanks for the offer Evan.

    Now, where in the hell is Pookie ?

  • Soupy says:

    ~ Enjoy Life …. Eat Out More Often ~

    SE Rykoff was a wholesale grocery company with headquarters in Los Angeles, and served many states in the west as well.
    The above phrase was the company slogan which was painted on all of the
    delivery trucks along with their two tone green paint jobs.
    Rykoff had a great business model and performed very profitably for many decades. ( starting in 1911 ).

    The Woody’s SmorgasBurger chain was a small but loyal customer of Rykoff.
    Basically, the food products packaged in a can were the only items needed
    from the company. There were the dill chips, tomato paste, catsup, relish and mustard. The orders may have been bi weekly.

    In the companies early years the slogan may have been an honest invitation
    for restaurant patrons to revisit more often……. and enjoy life.
    But in the later decades management had to realize there was a serious issue
    with the slogan, but apparently decided the phrase could and should stay.
    It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall when the issue was debated.
    Here’s to Woody’s and Rykoff ….. serving only grade A food products.


  • Soupy says:

    ~ girls can do anything boys can do ~

    But wait, no they can’t !

    Girls could not get hired in at the Woody’s SmorgasBurgers during Ralph Wood’s ownership years from 1956 thru 1971.
    I still cannot fathom how this was allowed to occur with all the legal ramifications. I am sure Sharrie Williams would have pitched a bitch had she been interested in applying for work at the Culver City store in 1965.

    Anyway, girls have yet to show they can write their names in the snow.


  • Soupy says:

    Thursday ~ Nothing lasts forever ( except cockroaches )

    Remembering the dire days in Boss Angeles during the mid 1980’s;

    Gold Star Studios closed in 1984 ~
    WOODY’S SMORGASBURGER #1 closed in 1985 ~
    KHJ radio closed in 1986 ~


  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, it’s a wonder you didn’t leap over the counter and throttle the little “malt tossing bastard!” That would have been a genuine “teachable moment” for him, compliments of Phil and Woody’s Redondo.

  • Santa says:

    ~ The Eve of all Eves ~

    I would like to join Santa, Bob and Evan with my wishes that all the Readers and commenters here have a Christmas filled with a high level of good health and whole bag of good cheer.

    For those of you who are having breakfast out on Christmas morning, why not consider a 50% tip for your server who would rather be home with her kids.


  • Phil A. says:

    ~ The night before Christmas ~

    Such fun to learn of Mr. Zang getting zinged with a steak. I now wonder if this ever gets replicated at the Admiral Risty.
    In any case, I have not seen it mentioned in any Risty reviews on the web.

    And now some history and hilarity for Evan who is # 501 …………….
    My one and only incident was about a young AHole who was burning rubber out in the parking lot with his mothers new car. It was already dusk, and he was showing off to his buddies while regular patrons were trying to make it
    out to their own cars. One of the kids hanging around said ” oh, that’s so and so from Rolling Hills HS.” In those days, everyone was in the phone book, so I looked up the name and called. Well, mommy answered the phone and was horrified to learn her little Johnny was over at Woody’s about to rip out the tranny in her 1968 Pontiac Bonneville.

    It was less than an hour later when Johnny AHole appeared at the counter and ordered a chocolate Alpine Malt. I had not connected him as the driver because he had stayed in the car and it had been getting dark.
    So yes, after paying for the malt, he threw the contents from an underhand position which plastered me from the neck on down. The AHole then put the metal malt cup on the counter and departed while mouthing some pretty nasty words. I guess mommy took away his license and whatever else.

    By this time in my life I was thinking about ending my tenure with Woody’s anyway and I thought …. who needs this shit. ( main reason was to return to college.)


  • Evan Zang says:

    I confess I don’t remember the table configuration in the Redondo Woody’s. What I do recall, vividly, is a agitated customer bringing a steak back to the cash register and throwing it at me, claiming it was “undercooked.” I wasn’t even the grill person who cooked it, but, when the steak bounced off my shoulder I remember laughing uncontrollably. This, of course, made the “steak tossing customer” even angrier and he left without further comment. Good times, right? Wishing everyone on this site a very Merry Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever your holiday preference. It’s a brave new world in which we must all demonstrate tolerance and acceptance (except for the crazy guy who threw the steak at me, proving there are indeed alien life forms living among us).
    Peace, Evan

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