Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

The legendary Woody’s Smorgasburger chain continues to attract so much attention that we can’t contain all its messages in one forum.  Visit the others to read what has been said but post your new comments in this thread.

574 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil and Bob thanks for your comments. I grew up with a near photographic memory, which is mainly responsible for me finishing college. The memory is still pretty strong though I’m beginning to see some fading. Taco Tio, Mr C’s Broasted Chicken, and the poisonous Clancy’s still look pretty clear to me. I’m still in touch with many of my Redondo Beach friends, some going all the way back to 2nd grade! I’m going to see if any of them have any photos of these places. They just might! If I’m lucky they may even surface some pictures of Woody’s. Too bad we didn’t have cell phones with cameras in those days, but, if we did, we probably wouldn’t be sharing these memories on this great siteadvertising!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Remembering Woody’s # 3 in Gardena ~

    The store in Gardena was operating for 5 years and then closed in early 1964.
    Since I started at CC in July of 1964, I did not know anyone who was associated with #3. However, Pat Wilbur appeared on this very site several years ago and made it known that he was a ” roaming manager ” who was sent to different units to shape them up and bring a profit number to the bottom line.
    That’s it for Gardena.

    Phil A.

  • Phil Thomas says:

    Phil A- I was pleased to read that Don Steinke and his wife are still among us and living in the Palm Springs area. Never met his wife, but Don was considerably older than I was when he hired me at the age of nineteen. I’m 78 now which means Don is up in years. But then, we all are, aren’t we? Just as I’ve forgotten the names of many people I worked with later in life, that’s even more true for the ones at Woody’s. Odd, because I have a slightly better memory of some of their faces. You mentioned a couple, Dick and Steve. Don’t recall anyone by the name of Dick, but the name Steve rings a bell. The person I’m thinking about (maybe Steve?) used to like working the cash register which was the one position I hated. Loved working the grill and all of the other spots. Think my lack of confidence with ringing up orders and making change scared me off. The position of “backup man” may have been the spot where Don broke in all of the new employees (?). At least it was with me and I feel that I did a pretty good job there, always on the move and trying to keep a step ahead when possible. I’m sure there are many jobs where the worker describes his duties as like that of a dance. That was sure the case with backup at Woody’s, keeping an eye on the salad man’s thousand island, french and blue cheese dressing, for example, not wanting to get in the way, yet slipping in and around him to do refills before he asked as well as doing a quick wipe up of any drips. And of course there were the other stations to keep supplied along with the condiment bar. I took it as a compliment when Don explained that he had been slow to move me to the line positions because I was such a good backup man. As for the other guys I worked with, I do remember one who was French (French accent anyway) and also liked working the grill. His name was Jacque (that might be spelled incorrectly). Don’t remember his last name. There was also a Stu. And had to chuckle when you said that one of the guys would sometimes bring in a steak to grill because I (and maybe others?) did that as well. Don didn’t object and I can’t remember if he ever told us be low key about it. But I nevertheless knew that we didn’t want a customer to see what we were doing. Heck no, if they decided to order a steak dinner based on what they saw, I’m sure we’d have some explaining to do. That pretty much exhausts my memories about working at Woody’s, Culver City other than once, after closing, some of us got into a friendly food fight for some reason. Of course it only made clean up and getting out of there take more time. Oh, and in closing, I do recall one other time when I made a mistake which could have been serious. A 220 volt line (I think running to the Radar Range) went across a counter area in the back room where I was cutting something with one of our big, heavy knifes and somehow cut into the line. No shock, but a huge spark and a small notch burned into the knife blade. Startled the *#** out of me. Don wasn’t there at the time and I can’t remember how the accident got reported since it did have to be repaired.

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ Some of the Woody’s Redondo Guys ~

    The following group of guys are past and current commenters who I have met via this Woody’s site : Bob of NM , Evan Zang , Mark Husar , and Pat Wilbur.

    This second group includes guys I worked with at the Redondo store or interacted with at management meetings. ( 1967 & 1968 )
    Richard Ingram, Willie , George ( the camera guy ) , Randy Wilson, Nick, Paul, Leaf Lusty, Tim White, Phil Hartman, Elliot Perchuck , Les Simons, Steve Dabbs, and Lorin Buist.

    Great guys make great memories. Thank you all !

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ Remembering Woody’s Redondo Beach 1958 ~ 2018

    We can now celebrate the 60th anniversary of Woody’s # 2 store located on the PCH in Redondo Beach. The site was just blocks away from where Ralph and Barbara made their home. So, the thinking is Ralph managed the new store while Don Steinke pretty much ran Culver City on his own.

    Over the years, the property was released to many other different food service venues. There were three Mexican venues and at least two rib joints.
    Anyway, the first 14 years belonged to the SmorgasBurgers !

    Whatever the memories, it is fun to remember the good times.
    I think I will make a homemade SS ( Swiss burger ) for tomorrows lunch.
    Anyone else ??

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ good things end too ~

    With the extended delay of our comments being posted, Evan Zang’s name
    remained as the headliner on this sites marquee for quite some time.
    I enjoyed seeing this.

    Phil A.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Another Phil at Culver City ~

    Yes Phil T. , better late than never. Thanks for returning with your input on Mr. Don S. With the burst of new Woody’s units from 1958, 59, 60, 61 , it looks like Don was pretty much the guy doing all of the training. It must have been non stop which is okay I guess as he was kept busy. He was associated with KFC for many decades. ( Sacramento area ).
    Don and his wife have been retired now for several years and now reside in the Palm Springs area. I have tried to encourage a few guys to visit Don because they live very close to him. Nothing ever happens.

    Yes, there was a 50 cent cash charge for several of the pricier menu items like the steaks and Halibut. Ron Blasio, a CC manager did one better by going to a local butcher counter on his lunch break. He would bring back a CHOICE

    Phil, you may remember Dick Roletta and Steve Claypool. These guys were working at CC in 60, 61,62. Every once in awhile I get vibes these guys are reading our comments here and then moving on.
    We are all in our 70s now ( except baby Evan ) so we should be careful on how much we try to accomplish in a day.
    Nap time is the best time !

    Phil A.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Our days in Redondo ~

    Well Evan, I would say your memory is holding very strong at # 67 !
    I wish I could help you on your list of restaurant venues, but I cannot.
    Not because of memory lapse …. it is because I just was not out and about
    after working 60 plus hours at our Woody’s unit.

    I did have two favorite places which I patronized an awful lot on the weekends : House of the Rising Sun with Stewart Clay hosting and The Latitude 20 with owner Hop Louie taking care of business.
    My tab at The Latitude 20 was my biggest monthly expense, exceeding rent or car payments ! My friends and I loved that place.

    Phil A.

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

    RE Evan. Ya, back in MA, “Broasted” became ‘in’ also in the mid ’50s… the Big…let alone HEALTHY….. Take Out as more Moms began to work….as a kid, saw no difference…LOL.
    RE Taco Tio. A bit after arriving in ABQ, my future Vieja took me to a drive-by known as Pop N Taco and introed me to a Taco on a Bun as well…bun, chopped lettuce, pickle, loose ground beef AND Thousand Island Dressing. Way to go Chica! http://tinyurl.com/y83jd4f5
    Alas, RE places along The 1 and PCH: lest I ask again…LOL: between Woody’s and Hermosa: a 15×30(?)’ hole-in-the-wall on the East side: a bar on one side and 2-tops along the opposite wall. Had all kinds of “ephemeral?” on the wall that in a few years was to become the “in” thing in terms of restaurant decor…too funny. This place’s distinguishing claim to fame, was all kinds of noise/lights went off when a Chica exited the Ladies Room.

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

    Yo: Phil T: Thanks for the great recollecting!….Maybe a day late, but NOT a dollar short.
    Given the proliferation of “fast foods” today, one can feel pretty confident that Newbies…as owners…to that adventure, would do well to read the remembrances of employees/guests herein to garner some tips on being successful: e.g. First Step: Take the time to face-to-face hire the right management (who hold an ethic of “working” let alone being a mentor beyond being a “supervisor” as well) who hire the right employees. Cant’ imagine the tidbits of wisdom “Mark Evanier” has harnessed amongst all the venues herein!

  • Evan Zang says:

    Does anyone remember a little place in Redondo Beach called Mr C’s Broasted Chicken, located on PCH and Avenue B? The tiny unit offered no seating, instead favoring takeout or home delivery. In the early 60’s KFC hadn’t arrived yet (or perhaps we were simply unaware of them) and Mr C’s represented the first “pressure cooked” chicken our family had ever tasted. It was delicious. Like KFC, the chicken came in a bucket, but it also included hand cut slices of Broasted Potatoes. As a kid Mr C’s Broasted Chicken was easily one of my family’s favorite “fast food” haunts, and in many ways, their chicken was far better than the later versions of Harlan Sander’s KFC.

    Moving along, does anybody remember Taco Tio, located on PCH and (roughly) avenue D? Like Mr C’s , Taco Tio arrived much earlier than Taco Bell, although the menu was fairly similar. I was not fond of Mexican food as a teenager, but Taco Tio cunningly offered a “taco” on a hamburger bun, which, my mother occasionally brought home for dinner once or twice a month. I

    Lastly, and still located on PCH ( not far from Woody’s Redondo Beach), was a hamburger joint called Clancy’s. Essentially, Clancy’s was a McDonald’s knock off, with a similar menu and exterior. Although my family ate there a few times, my mother eventually put Clancy’s on our FORBIDDEN FOOD LIST because the unit was constantly embroiled in investigations involviinñng numerous health code violations and food poisoning incidents. The word on the street about Clancy’s was “cheap food – eat at your own risk.”

    There it is – and so I ask this very knowledgable group, does anyone remember Mr C’s Broasted Chicken, Taco Tio, and Clancy’s, all three located in Redondo Beach, and all three now gone forever?

  • Phil Thomas says:

    First want to apologize to you, Phil Ankofski, for the long delay in replying to your comment in June of 2017. After sharing a couple of my memories about the time I worked at the Woody’s in Culver City between 1959 and around 1961 and thinking that it wasn’t posted (probably because I simply didn’t see that it had) I drifted away and neglected to check back until now.

    Anyway, you asked about my boss, Don Steinke, and I have to say that all of my limited memories of him are most favorable. For one thing, he hired me, giving me my first “real” job while still attending what was then Santa Monica City College. Don was a good man to work for in that he was always very positive and helpful during the training process. What’s more, he obviously took pride in what he was doing and I think he really felt part of the community. For example (and this may have been unique to the Culver City restaurant?) donuts and a few pastries along with coffee were offered to the customers for two or three hours (?) before the restaurant officially opened for lunch. Don’t think this was ever advertised as one of those “Open for breakfast” deals we see now at the fast food chains. A cash register (the old mechanical type) containing a small amount of change was placed on the counter so that the customer could ring up his purchase and make his own change. It was all on the honor system and I always felt that Don was rather proud of the arrangement. He looked for the good in people and probably felt that most people will be honest if given the chance. Of course, I think only the local businesses were aware that this existed.

    Another memory I have of Don is how well he controlled what was probably considerable anger he must have felt when I REALLY messed up one time. We had just switched over from charcoal to gas on the grill. Don was crouched down on the customer side of the counter doing some kind of wiping down. That’s right, although the boss, he wasn’t above doing that sort of thing. I wasn’t aware or had forgotten that Don was there. And I happened to be serving a customer at the same time when the customer says to me something like, “The burgers probably don’t taste as good when cooked on gas, do they?” Something to that effect. The fact was that I really couldn’t tell any difference and if I had thought about it a minute could have said something like, “Actually they do taste as good and maybe better because we can control the heat better and it’s really the smoke from the fat and not the charcoal that gives the flavor.” But no, I simply agreed with the customer and agreed that the meat probably didn’t taste as good as it did before. You can imagine my surprise and embarrassment when Don’s head pops up from the other side of the counter. Needless to say, after the customer was gone, Don set me right, but in a very friendly and professional way. It was a good learning experience.

    I’ve noticed how some of the contributors here have mentioned the condiment bar and things like the elaborate do-it-yourself sundaes they would create. Even we, the employees, would experiment sometimes, but there was one thing that I discovered early on and always did… putting the chopped peanuts on my hamburgers along with whatever else I used. That was soooooo good. When I worked there we didn’t have to pay for hamburgers nor, do I think, any of the other food we ate except for steak, steak sandwiches and the halibut. I might be wrong about that, but I think that was the arrangement and we paid a reduced amount if we did want steak or halibut.

    Anyway, in 1961 I was just finishing college and had been hired as a trainee for the Los Angeles County Probation Dept. and so ended my enjoyable time working for Don Steinke. Sure wish Woody’s Smorgasburger was still there.

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s and the South Bay ~


    Nice job on locating and then sharing the South Bay link with us.
    When I see these older photos of undeveloped landscape, I always
    lament that CA lawmakers did not follow The Oregon plan which preserved much more seaside property for the people.

    Ralph and Barbara Wood found Palos Verdes to be the perfect area to live and do business. They both loved being in or near the ocean.
    Three of their children ( Sara, Eric, and Jon ) continue to live in the area while son Chip lives in Bishop.
    Several of Mr. Woods managers from the SmorgasBurgers and Admiral Risty
    also made it up the hill over the years and made permanent homes.
    I myself only made it as far as Walteria at the base of the ” Hill “.

    Bob has lamented that he did not buy a few of the beach shacks in Hermosa
    after his USC years. Well , I do too.
    With the explosive growth of WWII , it was probably very hard to devote
    a lot of time to planning by all the city fathers along the coast. Most areas turned out very beautiful with their 1000 sq. foot bungalows.

    I use the google maps to peruse the coastal communities I was familiar with and what I see is that apartment complexes of all sizes have taken the place
    of the bungalows. All change of course.

    So as far as footprints go , I am happy to count the Woody’s structures that are yet standing : #3 Gardena ( vacant ) ~ #5 Fish House in LA ( Fed Ex ) ~ #7 El Segundo ( IHOP ) ~ Admiral Risty , Palos Verdes ~

    Phil Ankofski

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

    OMG! If you worked at Woody’s HollywoodRiviera/Redondo, see if you can find where Woody’s footprint would be…http://tinyurl.com/y8psn4t2 Caution: if you scroll down, be prepared to have a Margarita on your desk as you will go down many vintage rabbit holes if ya click on any of the next pics therein and especially if ya lived in the “neighborhood”…LOL Enjoy!

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

    Just ran across this bit of trivia: “Why Wendy’s is the only Chain that serves baked potatoes” http://tinyurl.com/ya93egbx . I never thought about it back in the day when “we” experimented with 1,000 Island and chopped nuts on our Woody’s Smorgs, but did any proletariats herein or Guests experiment with the condiment bar. Did we even serve the potato with butter?
    As a kid, my Mom had a way to make the skin come out nicely ‘crisp’…was it the Crisco she prepped them with? Anyway, our ritual once baked, was to split open horizontally (not lengthwise); scoop out the innards to be also eaten, and to put a pat (or dab) of butter in each of the half-skins; salt and shut it…OMG, the first version of potato skins I guess(?)!
    Sad note: During the Potato Famine in Ireland, circa 1845-’49’, (which might have caused 1/2 of my “Essence” to journey here legally), Folks thought it best to feed the kidlets the innards and they “suffered” to eat the skins. Turns out the skins had the nutrients! In my adulthood, I often note that to restaurants that serve their Baked, foiled. Because of “privacy issue”, I can’t mention a Chain that stopped doing that…at least locally.
    OMG…I just started, after ALL my years, making my own home Guac the past few weeks and I throw away the avocado skins! Does anyone know about the skins? (PS: IMHO, while important, not garlic, nor a spritz of lemon/lime, nor Baco-Bits is key! I suggest teenie bits of Green Chile! to accompany the diced tomato/onion added to the diced, not smashed, avocado! Salud/Slainte!)

  • Phil says:

    ~ Our Woody’s man at Westwood Village ~

    I would like to use this space to highlight a recent comment made by Marshall Loveday. I feel his thinking reflects what is going on here with our
    aging audience and why so few return with additional stories.
    Marshall said ; ” I might vaguely remember some incidents, but forget the important details that make the story worth telling. ”

    This thought completely changes my perspective on what and how much goes on here. Thank you Marshall for sharing your insight.
    Since we cannot run around handing out a ” memory serum ” I guess we will
    have to be happy with what we have and what we can get in 2018.
    So be it.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s in Westwood ~

    Looks like Marshall L. continues to be our only connection to the Woody’s in Westwood and we are glad to have him. Our recent comments have been focused on the Redondo store because there are now four of us who had various degrees of tenure there.

    I separated from Woody’s three weeks before the Westwood store opened in October, 1968. Marshall was hired in during the grand opening period and perhaps did not realize it. Anyway, Mr. Wood and other investors obviously
    had great expectations because of the UCLA students and weekend activity in Westwood. After only a short time, the owners saw that this location was not going to be the ” barn burner ” they had hoped for.
    I had lost contact with all of the Woody’s guys I had worked with, so I never learned anything at all about the store.

    Since this Woody’s site was founded, I have learned a bit on just how dire the profit picture was at Westwood ….. or perhaps none at all.
    The guys who bought the $5,000. LP shares had to take a MASSIVE haircut so the lease could be turned over to Steve Dabbs in mid 1971.

    So Marshall, I now wonder if you noticed any ” tightness ” like infrequent raises or non at all. Perhaps some maintenance issues were being passed over, or whatever. I remember when Mr. Wood signed the lease earlier in the year because he was so damn happy. I thought it was because he was an alumni of UCLA and wanted to show off a bit, but that was not the case.
    Mr. Wood was a college grad. closer to Pasadena. I think Occidental.

    Any insights of any nature about Westwood would be fun to learn.
    I would say the same for the store in Woodland Hills which was intended to be Mr. Woods entry into the dipped roast beef venue , The Carvery .
    ( also a non performer ) ~ Converted to A Woody’s after three months ! ~

    Let the figure skating begin !


    Stories…from Woody’s Westwood?

    My problem with telling stories is that I might vaguely remember some incidents, but forget the real details that make the story worth telling……

    I remember one employee in particular who moved quickly up the ranks, I guess because he was a little older than most of us teenagers. Not long after he was made a supervisor on the night shift, the till started coming up short……. He didn’t last long. I remember feeling there was something creepy about him.

    Out location, being in Westwood, we got a lot of area teenagers running around, with no supervision. I remember one night, kids were particularly rowdy, and a rather strange girl I hadn’t seen before came in, and went over to a back booth area that was the darkest part of the restaurant. From the line, I couldn’t tell what was happening, but there was some kind of commotion going on. Once I had a chance to go out and check, ‘it’ was apparently all over, and the girl, and the guy she was ‘taking care of’, hurried out…….at least that’s what some of the other kids were saying. I watched the tables a lot closer after that……

    This one I’m ashamed of….may have told this one before. Steve Dabbs hired a female employee, as a sort of ‘hostess’. She didn’t work the line, but could do cashiering, other stuff. UCLA student at the time – a nice girl. I pranked her with a root beer, that had quite a bit of hot sauce in it.

  • markhusar says:

    It would have been around 69 or 70.


    Mark H. –
    What year would that have been? The Westwood Village Woody’s opened in 1967 (forget what month…). I was hired around October, 1968, and worked there until April, 1972.

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

    Marshall: Rand’s Round-Up (Round-Up as in cowboy theme… http://tinyurl.com/yckmkr4e)…No cook at Frat House on weekends, so Guys loved the one on Wilshire (tho apparently we didn’t know of others) per all ya can eat and especially the Prime Rib station of the buffet. I’m not a big eater so thought $6.95 was pricey “back in the day”. http://tinyurl.com/ya5wruno (click pics to enlarge.)
    – Everyone’s gotta make a last Rose Parade! So after, get a Double Dipped at https://www.philippes.com/ with its sawdust floors/community tables per being only 15″ by Union Station. When I’m giving out tourist info in ALBQ and ask 10 Angelenos “Where’s the best place in LA for French Dipped?”, 8 say Philippe’s; the missing 2 would be Vegans/Vegetarians of course!
    – Yes! John would be a good name for that Dude! Tom, Jerry, Harry, Biff etc. wouldn’t cut it. I wonder if he’d be less “prissy” as you say with another name?
    – Great video of the Europa reconstruction. Interesting coincidence: I thought the Avanti http://tinyurl.com/y9xplu5t was unique. Surely miss Jay Leno, let alone Johnny. Nobody comes close today.

  • Mark Husar says:

    Marshall Loveday.
    Your response confirms for me the existance of the Westwood Woody’s location.
    I was a mid teen when Jim and I traveled to the restaurant to work for the day. And honestly, I cannot remember what is was we were working on.
    I’ll touch base with Jim tomorrow and post the results.

  • Phil says:

    ~ Woody’s SmorgasBurger and our college guys ~

    It was fun that Mark H. shared one of the closing episodes at Redondo.
    As I said earlier, this stuff happens everywhere were teens and college kids are employed.
    But it occurred to me that there was a fair percentage of linemen and busboys who never worked evenings or closing shifts.
    Reason: Their college class schedules were heavy with late afternoon and evening classes so they would work the morning prep. shift or the 11 to 2
    shift on the line.
    They missed out on all that fun of late night goofing off.

    Come on Marshall …… you must have AT LEAST a couple of stories to share with us about the Westwood store and Steve Dabbs. I knew Steve well enough to know there was a little devil in him.


    Mark H – GREAT story! Tops anything from my tine at Woody’s Westwood….

    Bob of the Village – I USED TO live near Penguins – Mar Vista actually, while growing up. Of the other places you mentioned visiting, or not visiting, There was either a Trader Vics or a Don the Beachcomber in Marina Del Rey that i remember frequenting in my early 20’s, before being married – this would have been 1972 or so……. Rand’s – I’ve never hear of that one. I’ve been to the Pantry downtown – truly an experience. Phillipe’s – sadly, never made it there, either.

    Phil A. – No ‘secret spy eaters’ at our Westwood Village location that I can recall. And as to taking your date to Bruno’s Italian Restaurant in Mar Vista – you could never go wrong there. I’m glad I had a chance to take my wife to Bruno’s before they closed some years ago……

    Phil A – I laughed when i read about the straight-laced ‘Anthony Perkins-looking dude that Mr. Woods employed as a G.M. — I think you’re referring to ‘John’, and for the life of me I can’t remember his last name. I believe I met John way before i met Mr. Wood – somewhat intimidating John was for a young 17 – year old like me. He struck me as sort of ‘prissy’ – not wanting to lift a finger to clean anything, just…………pointing when he saw something that needed attention.

    Evan Z – Sad to hear about the first Europa you had. Hope you were OK after the accident. Turns out I went into auto damage appraisal as a career, starting in 1977. Not surprisingly, I never handled a claim on a Lotus Europa. If you never caught it, Chip Foose used his magic touch on a Europa in two episodes of Overhaulin’
    Part 1:
    Part 2:

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