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.

454 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Thursday ~ Chris P. saves my a_ _ again . ~

    I was just sitting down here to put in another two cents regarding the soups.
    Low and behold, what do I find but a wonderful comment by Chris which is packed with the needed info.

    I would add that the soup and chili pots were located between the toasters and the cash register station. I know we did not serve the oyster crackers but seem to remember the small mini packets of saltines to go with the soups of the mid 1960’s.

    Now that we have the soups taken care of, I guess we should move on to the chili. I may need a few days to gather my thoughts. In the mean time, if any of you guys can step up on the Woody’s chili ……. please do.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It looks to me like the Woody’s SmorgasBurger V is just around the corner.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Phil

  • Chris Pingel says:

    We used the soup bowls designed by IHOP when I came back in 1970. I don’t remember what we used prior to that.
    It was a white bowl with a curly trim and a logo of Uncle Woody created by IHOP.
    I remember the soups as being French onion, minestrone, split pea, bean with bacon and clam chowder, the white.
    When I took over the business in late 1978, I served both the white and the red at the same time to see which one was preferred. The white won out by a landslide, so I discontinued the red and stuck with the white,which we made ourselves using a good base and adding clam juice. We served a bowl with crackers.
    Chili & beans were served in the same bowl.
    We, also brought in woven wooden bowls for salads. Took the place of the yellow plastic with the romaine leaf. Later we put a larger salad on a plate in addition to the small salad. People were eating more healthy and liked salads. We added cherry tomatoes instead of the beet.
    More later.
    ChrisP

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

    OK Phil, per your naming several flavors of soups, Y’all are really getting down into the weeds as “they” say today.
    I agree, to succeed it would have to be creamy New England and not liquidy/orange-reddish Manhattan Clam Chowder. NOW! where was the soup tureen for soup as you “imagine” it in Hollywood Riv AND, most importantly, did Y’all serve Oysterettes http://tinyurl.com/hbk92q2 They would have to have been a must to succeed!!! LOL

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Soup or no soup, who cared ????

    The Woody’s opening man probably could forget to make the morning soup and no one would notice till closing time. Sales were that poor.

    The only day that had a chance was Friday … for Clam Chowder.
    But when a patron inquired ; ” Red or White ? ” we answered Red and the chance for a sale diminished further to half a chance.
    Most patrons wanted the New England White Clam Chowder.

    Other days featured Minestrone, Green Spilt Pea and that’s all I remember.
    There MIGHT HAVE BEEN a Tomato , French Onion or Chicken Noodle ???

    I spent some amount of time perusing the revised (1970) Woody’s OP manual
    but found nothing on soups. Oh …… shucks .

    I am still checking several China sources for the Woody’s bowl. Bet I find one.Phil

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

    OMG Phil, I think the newly elected greening of CA is getting to ya….Uh Oh, and to me as I’m now actually imaging seeing a lid that opened in-half embedded in the stainless steel counter from whence I’d offer Chicas a Macaroni or a Green salad with (scripted) “French, Blue Cheese, or Thousand Island’ dressing to be plopped into a 1 inch high, yellow plastic “dish” festooned with a lettuce leaf! Seriously? what flavors of soup do you envision we offered? Sorry, I’ve got to go with Mark’s memory (at least till Junish ’63.)
    – Oh BTW: Ran across this article http://tinyurl.com/hypd9tp from last year. This is a blowup of the ad http://tinyurl.com/glhposk therein with no mention of Woody’s soup, altho it does say “No Tippin”….LOL
    I just sent the author an email with a link to Mark’s Blog hoping he might make some kind of notation in the Daily Breeze that might pique the interest of other senior patrons.

  • mark says:

    Hello,
    Happy New Years to all.

    As a busboy and dishwasher, I spent maaaany hours doing cleacup. For the life of me, I cannot remember bowls among all the dirty dishes.

    Bad memory? I don’t remember. Hahaha.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Monday ~ Soups, Chili and the Big salads ~

    During our prior years here with the Woody’s site, I do not recall any comments or discussions about the menu items which were served in the soup bowls. I got to thinking about the bowls themselves because they too would have been made of china with Woody’s logo. Problem is, I cannot remember them in fact, but only in my minds eye.

    So, at this point, I am looking for confirmations to their existence. The next question would be if anyone knows where I could buy one .( other than E Bay
    which I check often )

    The bowls were used in store to serve a bigger dinner salad, soup of the day,
    chili, and brownie ala modes which was a secret menu item.
    Seven days in a week must have translated into seven different soups.

    I remember the soup offerings were all pretty unpopular.
    And I cannot remember a closing procedure for keeping any unsold soup.
    It all must have been thrown out down the disposer. ??? I do not know.

    So, you can see I need help with the soups and chili.
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~

    ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE ! ~

    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    None of our own ‘grandkids’ in this Loveday household (yet), but we’ve got a niece, a grand nephew and grand niece as well as a great-grand nephew and great-grand niece to keep up entertained this Christmas season.

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Merry Christmas to All.
    I remember well Mrs. Wood coming to Culver City #1 to decorate our store. She was a classy lady. She decorated the stores just right. The store looked very nice. Mike S. and myself were allowed to put Christmas lights in the store along with her decorations one year. We were both Christmas freaks in those days.
    I do remember the Christmas music on our Muzac tape system. I so looked forward to that, not only because I love Christmas music, but, I was so tired of hearing the same music everyday day and night on the tape.
    I remember one year I took down the decorations before, I guess, they were supposed to be taken down and Mrs. Wood came by and asked why were they down so soon. I felt really bad. I apologized, though, and things were good. As you all know, #1 was only 1/2 block from our corporate office so we were visited more frequently than other stores except, maybe, Redondo.
    When we had managers meetings in the very early seventies, 70 & 71 I used to supply the coffee and donuts. I remember saying this is going to affect my food cost. Everyone just laughed. I did get a bonus of $69.00. I remember the amount, but, I can’t remember if that was for a month or what time period.
    When I came back in 1970 the store was losing money and was a mess and in need of a lot of repairs etc. I took it over and soon cleaned it up repaired or had repaired all the things that needed to be repaired. I worked so many hours, but, eventually, got the store in the black, hence my bonus.
    Anyway, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas & a VERY PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.
    Take Care,
    Chris P.

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

    Anyone young enough to still have GrandKids to sit in your lap? Old enough for GreatGrandKids? to let them “click” herein https://www.ashland.edu/administration/ecard/2004-admissions-greetings (just up the street from ya Phil)
    If not, then for the Young at Heart!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Friday ~ Remembering Mr. and Mrs. Wood at Christmas time ~

    Man o’ man , I feel lucky to find space here ! We’ve had Chris, Marshall and Mark rejoin us here plus Jerry Walter from CC dropped in to say hi as well.
    Santa brought me a new display monitor, so I am enjoying all this now on a trouble free system. ( Yes, Santa started his route in the Midwest this year ).

    The Woods did enjoy decorating their stores at Christmas, and it was always understated trimmings of very high quality. The Woods would arrive at the stores in the company station wagon and then proceed to bring in a 6′ step ladder along with several boxes of decorations…. no Christmas trees.

    For some reason Mrs. Wood always brought along her parents on these visits but they were too old to help. They sat and watched while enjoying a cup of that Maxwell House coffee. I remember the year Mrs. Wood was so delighted to be using her brand new ” elf ” decorations she had purchased in Sweden.
    She would use her ladder to place the elves on the horizontal beams throughout the dining room. As I said, it was not overdone yet very effective.

    It just occurred to me that Mr. Cramer ( Woody’s Uncle ) would have made the perfect Santa for in store visits. He was the right age and with white hair, plus he was one hell of a great guy. He could have placed himself right next to the fireplaces. The kids would have loved him !

    I cannot remember if Woody did Christmas bonus checks for the managers.
    Someone here a long way back mentioned Christmas parties. They were either before my time or else I wasn’t invited. Anyway, the Christmas season was always a lot of fun in the stores with cheerful customers and the holiday music on the Muzak system.

    In honoring the Woods memory, I just may bring out my Woody’s China dinner plates and use them to serve the Prime Rib.
    ~ Merry Christmas to one and all. ~
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    It’s been a while…….
    I’m actually AHEAD of schedule, this Christmas shopping / shipping season. Dang, it’s getting EXPENSIVE to ship stuff these days. I have a Christmas season tradition of making (from scratch) big batches of Chex Mix (off the box recipe, with some minor changes). Shipped batch #2 to our #2 daughter down in Orange, Ca. – $25!!!!!!

    OK, back to the topics. I’ve been away a while, so, to catch up….
    Regarding:

    Phil A. post, 9/3 8:06AM –
    The Matterhorn sandwich…… Not my favorite, eating-wise. Had the same issues you did. I also took a half-pounder and put it on a Kaiser once in a while. Wasn’t fond of swiss cheese back then, though.

    T. Ponsford post, 9/3, 4:34PM –
    Great post! Interesting to hear of your personal interactions with the Wood family. I only got to meet Mr. Wood, and then only a couple times.

    Phil A. post, 10/24, 6:09AM –
    ‘Sliders’….. I think that would have been a great add to the menu. Which begs the question, if Woody’s existed today, what would be on their menu? (I think we can include french fries, without question…..possibly Mr. Wood’s biggest mistake.)

    Phil A. post, 10/27 8:18AM –
    Fireplaces…… Phil asks if there were fireplaces in other units, namely Westwood Village, Orange, and Tustin. Well, I can answer ‘no’ on the first two, but didn’t even know there was a store in Tustin until I joined this forum. I think you will find that the Culver City and Redondo Beach locations were built from scratch to be Woody’s Smorgasburgers. I’m not sure any of the others were…possibly El Segundo, since it did have a fireplace (I think), but it’s appearance seemed a bit different than Redondo or CC…… I helped ‘open’ the Orange store way back in 1971…) I think it had been another small restaurant prior it being a Woody’s. I posted a link some time back of the building, which still exists. Turns out I ended up living in Orange, from 1981 to 2009, and would pass by the location quite frequently. Here it is again, the dumpy little building with the blue awning. It’s not very wide, but goes back a ways…. https://scontent.fsnc1-5.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/15589869_1358940664125871_5053544288807967376_n.jpg?oh=b7b5872667e6578e425ebc4845cd9c59&oe=58F4E117

    Evan Z. post, 10/27 5:32PM –
    Evan, you asked what employee might have owned a Datsun 1600 or 2000 roadster.. When I first started working at Woody’s in Westwood Village, there was a supervisor or assistant manager who had a Datsun 2000. Gave me a ride in it once. I believe he came up from the Redondo store, if I’m not mistaken. Older, college-age, good-looking guy. Bob? Rob? Also had a brother who worked for Woody’s as well….. Wish I could remember more. It might have been he who told me about your Europa. so that’s why I came down for that visit one night.

    Phil A. post, 10/28 7:46AM –
    You had a ’64 Pontiac Ventura? Must have been around ’68 or so? My first car was a ’63 Olds Cutlass, in 1969. But then my SECOND car was a turquoise ’64 Catalina Ventura 2-door hardtop. 389 with transistorized ignition! (Went to do a tune-up. There was a flat plate under the distributor cap, where the points should have been….) Car had power windows, too, which I loved.

    Chris P. post, 12/9, 10:21AM –
    SALT PANS!!!!! The WORST job, working at Woody’s…….. well, either that or cleaning the grease filters.

    Phil A. post, 12/14, 7:59AM –
    ‘SMCC’……… Well, I’m a proud grad as well, but by 1969 they dropped the ‘City’ part, so it was just ‘Santa Monica College’. My plan was to move to Woody’s corporate and do all their advertising, since I got my AA. in ‘Merchandising Management’. Well, plans changed……….

    Chris P. post, 12/18, 7:36PM
    Quite a story on that robbery, Chris. Had me a bit on edge just reading it. I don’t remember if Woody’s Westwood ever got hit, not that I can remember anyway. Had a couple of crooks we employed, though……

  • Mark says:

    My curiosity is getting the better of me.

    Help me identify the guys who were employed at Redondo Beach and drove the following:

    An early to mid sixty’s GTO.
    A station wagon, possibly a nova wagon?

    I remember Evans yellow Lotus and Jim’s 68 VW bug, but just can’t seem to recall those other guys,

  • Chris Pingel says:

    We got away from checkered pants and had people wear dark trousers and uniform tops with the I hop created logo with the uncle Woody character sewn on them. Girls wore dark pants or shorts.
    I kept the block house, but, mostly for storage. We didn’t, really need a dressing room since people maintained their own tops and pants.
    We kept it until we demolished the building for the new restaurant with a drive thru. It was in the way of the new drive thru.

  • mark says:

    Very exciting story indeed!!

    When you are standing there looking down the barrel of a revolver (I assume revolver, not a semi), it gives you the shakes.
    One can actually see the slug that has your name on it residing in the chamber. Just an off twitch of a nervous gunman can send it on it’s way. You did well to calm the situation the hell down and bring everybody to a safe conclusion.
    Kudos to you, and a reflection that you may have saved the lives of all the hostages!!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Robbery follow up ~

    Since Chris and staff did not have the original uniform pants to put on after the robbery, I am thinking the robbery took place some time AFTER Chris changed out the checkered pants and hats for dark trousers and baseball caps. I think the pants were washed at home, saving big $$$$ on laundry service.

    So Chris, did you continue using the ” changing room ” at the back of the lot for storage or did you have it demolished ? Perhaps your staff still needed to make use of the lockers for personal effects like jackets and purses.
    Just wondering .

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

    Whoa Chris! Quite a tale…. Thanks for sharing! In my earlier time narrow ties were the in-thing social wise; guess your fashion era was when the wider ties had come in. (I still have both as ya never know when fashion goes Retro!) Alas, and not to embarrass you….didn’t you guys still have those white aprons we folded in half and secured with a flex-clothesline type “string”?
    – Am sure hearing about the shooting nearby must’ve produced the same intensity of angst! God/gawd Bless! Kinda sad not to hear the crew didn’t get a little extra bonus, albeit in today’s world, Folks would probably get ‘docked’ for spending time being “out of service”, given you admitted Y’all started late!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Monday 2 ~ A fun two weeks here ~

    Man , our group is really flaming lately.
    Evan , it is always nice to see some recognition. Whenever I get some words of appreciation I am good for another six months here at the keyboard.
    Thanks for the kudos.

    December 25 th is now less than a week out so I would now like to use this space to extend my heartfelt wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas !

    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Monday ~ High drama at Culver City ~

    Chris , after reading your robbery account , all I can say is that you and your staff were mighty lucky that morning. Your description is so filled with drama that I felt like I was in the kitchen as well. It sounds like the robbers were experienced at being stupid. With robbers like that, there is no way you could have predetermined your reactions. Thanks for sharing.

    Phil

  • Chris P. says:

    The story of my robbery experience at Woody’s #1 Culver City.
    It was a Friday morning between 9:00 and 10:00 A.M.
    I arrived at the store coming from #7 El Segundo. I parked in my usual spot near the rear kitchen door. We had a metal security door with a heavy metal screen. It was closed so no one could enter without ringing the bell. I had a key.
    When I entered I was walking past the dish-washing area towards the front line when to my right coming towards me was a guy and he asked me who I was. Not knowing what was going on, I asked him who HE was. He then pulled a gun (pistol)and pointed it at me. He came towards me and then about the same time another guy with a gun came towards me from the front line. The first guy asked me where the money was and I told him it would, probably, be in the safe in the office. He told me to stop looking at him and proceeded to drag be by my tie into the office where the safe was. The door of the safe was already left open.
    I said if it wasn’t there maybe it was up front. He then proceeded to take me back to the kitchen where he stopped and told me he was going to hurt me like he did the manager. Well he didn’t, thank God, but he told me to take off my clothes so I started to unbutton my shirt, then he said FASTER, so I ripped off my shirt and the rest (everything) then he shoved me into the small hall where the restrooms were and told me to go into the men’s restroom and NOT to come out. When I opened the door inside were both my manager and my opening busboy, both stripped down. How embarrassing for all of us. I was just glad they were all right, though.
    All the time when all this was happening I was wondering where everyone was??? Now I knew, except, we had one female employee too and we didn’t know what happened to her.
    After a few minutes my busboy said lets go out. I said let’s wait a little longer. I didn’t want to run into them in case they might still be there, and someone might get hurt or killed. Anyway, we finally did get out and we found our female employee in the women’s restroom still dressed and ok. Thank God.
    We called the police and they came very quickly to take a report.
    Everyone found their clothes except me after we came out. All I could find was my tie, which I put on. All I had on was the tie and some paper towels till the police got there. How embarrassing was that. I tried calling my wife to bring me some clothes but couldn’t get a hold of her. Someone, finally, did get me something to wear. We all gave our stories to the police and we did open late, but we opened.
    We were all ok, just shaken up.
    Side note: When he told me he was going to hurt me, I though to myself, I hope he doesn’t hit me in the face with his gun I just had a lot of dental work done.
    I was nervous the whole time, but, later was a lot more nervous after I thought about what,really could have happened to us.
    The good thing about this experience was I could feel how other people would feel and be able to help them in some way.
    Hopefully, though, no one else ever has this happen to them.
    The next week at a restaurant not too far from #1 all the employees were herded into the walk in and were shot. That could have been us.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Just wanted to stop by and welcome those that may be new to the Woody’s site, as well as, again, thank Phil, who has been in the proverbial “driver’s seat” from the beginning. We have a very diverse group, and not surprisingly, our discussion topics have gone far beyond mere Kaiser Rolls and Matterhorns. I am really enjoying each person’s recollection of the time they spent at Woody’s as well as the “actual period of time” itself. One of the baseball coaches at Redondo Union High School used to drive a Citro, though I can’t remember what year or model he had. (Phrases like “I don’t remember” or “I seem to recall” pop up on our site with amusing regularity, but who cares?”). I’ve always been attracted to fun cars – The Citro and the Mustang fit into that category of driving machines that looked and felt great on the road. But like my Lotus, if you weren’t a car mechanic (or knew one), you were destined to spend a lot of your weekends figuring out how to keep that “cool little car” running.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ Woody’s rides ~

    Chris ; Which model car was available to you in 1964 in order to get to work?
    Was it your car or your mom’s ?
    Jerry had the Citroen, Bob had the Vespa , Evan had the Datsun 1600 and later the Lotus, Wally and I had the 57 Fords and of course we can’t forget Randy’s 64 Stang.

  • Chris P. says:

    I remember the price for a Halibut Steak dinner was $1.35 in 1970 when I rejoined Woodys. Top Sirloin was $1.89 and NY was $1.95.

  • Chris P. says:

    That’s a very interesting question. I would guess a kaiser roll.
    I wasn’t a fish eater, but, I did like the Haddock. it wasn’t fishy tasting, of course, I cooked the **** out of it and smothered it with tar tar sauce.
    Today’s Friday and I can go get my fish filet for only $1.69 at Mac Donalds.
    HA-HA

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Thursday ~ The fish ~

    I recall one of our guys really loving the Haddock fish sandwich and I think it may have been Gary Wilcut. I remember teasing him by saying the only taste from the fish sandwich was the tartar sauce.
    Now I am wondering which bun was served with it, burger bun or Kaiser ?
    Phil

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

    Citroen AMI-6: OMG: http://tinyurl.com/h8bfh3x That took Huevos! Bravo! What were the MPG?
    The Halibut with melting butter and paprika: Yes! and don’t forget crosshatching with grill marks!
    North Dakota: OMG, my Daughter and her son were just up there before the hosing, flashbangs tearing an arm up, and snow.
    Start of Winter? Yes…Dec 21, the Winter Solstice! My most favorite day of the year!!! because day/sunlight will go back to getting longer every day!!!!
    Whoa…better get off here to an eggnog and finishing up my Christmas (can I say that on the internet?) cards.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday night ~ The Citroen on Woody’s lot ~

    Question for Jerry ; I see you described your Citroen as the AMI-6 model and I am sure you know your own car. Was this a family car or your own ?
    I always thought yours was the DS-19 model.
    Anyway, they both are available in HO scale die cast on Ebay. I am ordering the AMI-6 , and when it arrives , I will place it on the Diorama lot next to the small changing room on the back lot . Such fun !

    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday ~ SMCC and the CC gang ~

    It was fun to learn how many of the Woody’s Culver City gang attended Santa Monica City College. I think Jerry Walter was the only one who stuck with the program long enough to earn his AA degree. I was a student there in early 1965 and I had my orange gym shorts for a very long time afterwards.

    Comment for Jerry ; Your ride over to CSULA must have been a very long haul from Keystone Ave. Hope you did not have classes every day.

    All of the three Woody’s stores on Sepulveda Blvd. had a ” B Check ” code and I think Chris was the guy in charge of the broadcasting at Culver City.
    It is my opinion that El Segundo did NOT get an equal share of the babes in and around the South Bay area.
    The El Segundo store was in a heavy industrial area and it’s beaches were always desolate because of the Hyperian Waste Treatment Plant nearby.
    So all the beach babes moved farther south to Manhattan and Hermosa.

    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday #3 ~ Wine with dinner is fun !

    Bobber of NM,

    Yes, the folks at Wendy’s Corporate are wonderful neighbors. Dave Thomas imparted a lot of ” attitude ” here while he was alive.

    I did see your question about ” EPL sales ” and what it means, but I will let Chris Pingel address this issue as he is so rightfully proud of his business.

    Flank Steak, Asparagus, and Red skin potatoes with red wine. Life is good.

    Phil A.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday #2 ~ The SmorgasBurger buttons ~

    Thanks Chris for stepping up with your confirmation on how the Booster Club buttons were of value to our patrons. I remember seeing the box of buttons under the counter, but do not remember honoring any of them.
    I was able to connect with Gary Wilcut also and did invite him to this holiday gathering. Man will I sleep good if Dick R. and Steve C. can join Gary here too.

    I expect Marshall and Evan to drop in any day now as well.
    Thanks guys !
    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Many thanks to all of you guys ~

    Man, talk about a fresh infusion of Woody’s memories! You guys covered a lot of ground here in the last few days and I feel blessed for the cooperation.
    Yes, Jerry I remember your Citroen and Randy’s Mustang. I made it a point to feature the Mustang in my Woody’s diorama.( I even got the dark Hunter Green color right ). Mike Schuler was indeed the pilot in our group and I went up with him one time out of Hawthorne airport. It was funny that for 50 years I thought it was Chris Pingel who took me flying. Chris corrected me on this issue a few years back. We need to get Mike over to this site as well.

    Phil

  • Chris P. says:

    I noticed that there is a question about the booster badges
    I can’t remember how they were used back in the 60’s but when I was there, our policy was, if the customers wore them on a certain day they would get a free beverage of their choice. You’d be surprised how many people would wear them. It was kind of fun seeing all the badges of loyal Woody’s customers wearing them coming thru the line.

  • Jerry Walter says:

    Hi Phil:
    You mentioned Randy. Do you remember his 64 Mustang? He had an 8-Track Tape deck too! I had to Citroen AMI-6. Do you remember those “Hamburger Steak Night” specials for 99cents? What a deal!!! Woody’s was a regular hang out. As a side note, it was also close to the Drive In movie theater. That was just a couple blocks away at Sepulveda and Jefferson as I remember. Do you remember what a “B-Check” was?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Sunday night ~ Steep menu prices = big tips ~

    In the past we have talked about the steep menu prices at the Admiral Risty, but this includes other venues as well like Ruths Chris, Lawry’s, etc.
    I always pin the Risty prices on the outrageous lease payments. Of course there are other factors as well which are shared by all the venues.

    My friend sent me a photo of his recent guest check from the Risty which amounted to several hundred dollars. This time I did not focus on the food and drink portion of the bill, but on the tip for the waiter which was yet to be added on.

    Using a broad range factor of 10 to 20 % for the tip, the waiter is up for a very big hunk of $$$$$. So , I got to thinking ; if a guy really enjoys the job of being a waiter, he will become very popular and asked for. When a guy is this good, his tip percentage will always be in the 20 % range as well.

    Here is where I am going ; A popular waiter at the Risty who could work the five or six best nights of the week could earn $60,000 a year, perhaps better.
    Plus the shifts are much shorter than the average job. 4:30 PM to 10:30 PM.
    Work 30 or 36 hours a week , free meals , surf all day …. what the hell !

    In hind sight of 50 years , I now wish Mr. Wood had suggested that I come up and work at the Risty. I had resigned from the SmorgasBurger operation because I needed to work less than the 60 hours per week and return to school.
    Ah, you never know …. sometimes the stars line up and sometimes they don’t.

    So now when I look at menu prices, I must remember that there are significant add ons ; the rounds of drinks , the appetizers, deserts and perhaps more drinks and finally the tip !
    I guess you can tell that I don’t get out much.

    It be bedtime.
    Phil A.

  • Jerry Walter says:

    Hi Phil:
    Thanks again for the old souvenir plate from Woody’s. That was my first job after High School. It financed my way through the first 2 1/2 years of college. I went to Santa Monica College got my AA there. The only reason I left Woody’s was I transferred to CSULA and needed more money. I went to work for the Post Office in Culver City, just down the block from Woody’s. I continued to visit Woody’s after I left. That was such a fun place. All I have is fond memories. I remember Ron Serling coming in for lunch. I still tell people about that. I seem to remember Mike S. and if I remember right, went flying with him. Wasn’t it him who was taking flying lessons? I think I remember all those people you are talking about. I also remember the bank. I took sailing lessons with one of the clerks there the second summer I worked at Woody’s. I even took my future wife there. My parents would come in often to visit me at Woody’s. We had gone there for years for their 2-1 specials. Hamburgers we real hamburgers then. The meat was the best. Steaks were the best. I still buy and cook Halibut Steaks just like I did at Woody’s and remark I put butter and paprika on like I did there. Such fond memories. It was a simpler time. If I ever get back to Culver City again, I will check out the old site. It is strange that I actually ended up living in North Dakota. This morning it was -20^F with a wind chill of -40^F. Someone said we are having a tough winter so far. I pointed out, it isn’t winter yet, it is still fall. Wait til winter gets here. The snow here is a lot deeper than it ever got at Woody’s….wait there wasn’t any snow there. Culver City had such nice weather. When I finished college and my four years in the Air Force, I moved back to Stevens Ave, within walking distance of Woody’s. I ended up leaving the area because of career advancement in the Santa Ana Area. Well keep in touch. If I ever get to Ohio again we will stop and see you. The world has sure changed since “Woody’s.” It is the best of memories for me.

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

    Whoa Chris P….Bienvenido!
    Alas, the “bins under the grill” that I was wondering if they existed, were under the “whole” grill. Sounds like you were referring to “catchers” just under the grill ‘bars’…just as relevant…LOL
    – Alas, as being “just” a lineman, what does “Our EPL’s sales…” mean?
    – Whoa, nice to learn Don Knott’s was also a SmorgMuncher!
    – Indeed, the re-use of the fire station behind old CC, now El Pollo, for this http://tinyurl.com/j9qsq7k is bizarro
    – Say Phil…I’m brain freezing and to lazy to look back, but if said you are in Dublin: I was inquiring earlier this AM of Wendy’s Customer Service if their Gift Certificates could be Item Specific so one could hand out to Homeless Folk for Christmas (or other times). She said no, but that there in local Dublin, She/Staff were given a couple of $10 GCs to find a someone in need to pass them on to! Alas the gal I spoke with wasn’t sure if that was nationwide, but Kudo’s to them!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Friday ~ Welcome back Chris ! ~

    Chris, it sure is wonderful to see your name atop the marquee again.
    Your narratives are so interesting and factual plus your memory seems to be 100% intact. For any newcomers, Chris was associated with the Woody’s SmorgasBurger banner longer than anyone, including Mr. Wood.
    Chris started as a bus boy in 1964 , then a five year hiatus , followed by a return as the multi unit manager for Mr. Cramer. He bought the two remaining stores in late 1978 and operated Culver City until 1985 and then
    continued on with El Segundo until 2005. Well done Chris !

    In future postings I hope Chris will tell us about the day when the US space shuttle Challenger exploded on lift off. Chris was working his El Segundo store at the time which featured the first big screen TV with satellite service.
    As many of you know, the El Segundo store had it’s lunch hours patronized
    by the Hughes and Boeing engineers who worked on this shuttle.
    The engineers were just filing into Woody’s to take their place in line when the horrific news broke.
    That’s all I know …… Chris wanted to tell us this story of how the engineers were in shock and disbelief , but must have got sidetracked.
    So Chris, I for one would like to learn what it was like for you and your staff on that day.

    Phil

  • Chris P. says:

    Hi everyone.
    I’m glad to be back and joining the conversations.
    I can answer a lot of your questions if you’d like.
    I’ve just started to update myself on the site and noticed a few things I can help with.
    On the fire suppression systems the nozzles were above the filters in those days.
    Now they all have to be exposed with rubber caps to help keep them from getting clogged. Most of the time they get lost anyway. There’s such pressure anyway it would blow anything out. The new systems are a lot more complicated than in the old days, but they work.
    Our EPL’s sales are pretty consistent from day to day. Only difference would be catering, weekends and holidays.
    I was hired by Ron also at #1 and worked with him, Randy, Ty, Phil ( we closed together )Walter, Mike S. , Wally and many more. I loved everyone.
    Rod Serling was a regular and so was Don Knotts at #1.
    Under the gas grills we had shallow galvanized pans, which we lined with thik foil and rock salt to soak up the grease. We changed them daily. Sometimes, on a very busy day, the grease would build up and we’d have a small flare up. We’d just throw more salt over the top. W, really didn’t have a real problem. We did, though , have a grease fire at #7 ES one night, The fire got behind the stainless back. I wasn’t there at the time. The assistant Mgr. pulled the fire suppression system and called the El Segundo Fire Dept.
    We closed, they came quickly and put out the flames. We had to throw all the food on the line out as it contaminated from the chemicals from the fire supression system. We were able to open up the next day thanks to our quick work and our connections the city fire dept.
    FYI, the fire station behind Culver City was closed a few years ago and replaced with 3 new custom homes each selling for over 1 million dollars. $1,300,ooo,oo plus all sold very quickly. I can’t believe that anyone would pay that much for a house next to a very busy restaurant with a drive thru just a few yards from their back yards.
    I will tell you about my robbery experience at Culver City, which happened on a Friday morning just before opening next time.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Best and worst days at Woody’s ~

    As promised, I am back to complete Bob’s question session of Nov. 28th.

    My best day at Woody’s was at the Culver City store and it was very soon after I was hired in by Ron Blasio and Randy Ewing. The day was when I received my first pay check. This check meant I could remain in the Westchester neighborhood and proceed with my dreams of attending art school in Southern California. I had .28 cents in my pocket when I went to the B of A
    next door to cash that check. The B of A is still there by the way.

    The worst day was also at Culver City and also involved Randy Ewing.
    After one year of service, I took my weeks vacation time to visit family in Detroit. When I returned, I found Randy ( assistant manager ) had been terminated. I do not remember if I ever learned the reason but I was despondent . Randy had been guilty of on going security infractions by allowing the back door to remain completely open during the hour that the closing procedures were performed. Once the store was closed to customers, all the entry doors were locked and then Randy would wheel his new Mustang around to the back service door and then open his car door which had custom speakers installed. Randy also had the new 8 track tape system.
    Our favorite tape was the latest Stones album with ” It’s All Over Now “.

    Anyway, any member of the closing crew could be anywhere inside the store and hear that music very loud and very clear. Having the rear service door unlocked / open was a very serious policy infraction which PROBABLY was discovered and reported to Mr. Wood.
    My understanding is that Randy was hired in at the Wich Stand where he worked for many years. I liked working with Randy a lot.

    Phil

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

    Showers at HollyRiv? Alas, I don’t remember.

    Holy Smorgasburger! Wow: Rod Serling!!! Are you kidding? (For some reason I misremembered him as Sterling…LOL.) Be that as it may, I’m entering the Twilight Zone !!! Go/read here “Military Service”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Serling (let alone threads to your Ohio) I.e. a shell from my Dad’s Howitzer might have kept Rod trudging forward given mine also landed in New Guinea, went to Leyte and on to Manila…possibly/probably with MacArthur(?). Like most, he never talked about it! In all my years, I never knew another “kid” with a Dad in the Philippines….and so, Thanks to you reading The Book, I once learned Sharrie’s Dad shipped off to Manila in March of ’45…http://tinyurl.com/kalrmnd All in all, as we also approach the 75th “Anniversary” of Pearl Harbor…Lest we forget!
    (Each first Saturday in April, The Philippino community and City here, hold a ceremony commemorating the Bataan Death March. NM had about 1800 in the National Guard on the Philippines of which 1/2 survived. There’s always a few who make the remembrance http://tinyurl.com/jzy3jwb.)

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday ~ Broiler exhaust hood ~

    I may have misspoken regarding fire control nozzles in the exhaust hoods at the Woody’s stores. I have two pics of myself standing at the broiler in Redondo Beach and there is no evidence of nozzles.
    After returning to Michigan in 1971 , I worked at yet another burger joint and this location may have had the fire control system I am remembering.
    So, I need help on this issue; Did the Woody’s stores have fire control
    in the grill hoods or not ?

    Also, there was a serious fire at the Culver City store in 1962 or 63 , which was before my time there. My understanding is that real charcoal was still being used and some unusual circumstances caused a grease fire in the lower charcoal trays. The patrons in the store were cleared out and the store was closed for some time. ( not more than a day )
    The fire department was directly behind the store.
    This episode may have been the issue which got Mr. Wood to change out the broilers to natural gas. I DO NOT KNOW THIS ……. just surmising.

    Back in a few days.
    Phil

  • Evan Zang says:

    Hi All. Glad to see we are back! Not too off topic, but does anybody remember the Woody’s GM around 1967-1968? I was pretty young, but as I recall he was stern looking, rarely smiled, and mainly only spoke to management. They generally seemed a little afraid of him. Can’t think of his name.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday #2 ~ Back again ~

    Menu pricing was the same at all stores. When I hired in (64) the Smorgie was selling for .49 cents …. same price when I left in 10/1968.

    Weekly sales figures averaged around $4,600. per store with the USC #4 store probably doing better while USC classes were in session.
    In the overall financial picture, it looks like Mr. Wood and Mr. Cramer paid themselves a very comfortable salary, but come tax time at the end of the year, there was not much to claim as corporate profits.

    Yes, the Woody’s stores did use metal bins under the broiler for empty bun boxes, etc. They were on the heavy side, so I don’t think they were aluminum.
    I seem to recall there were fire control nozzles installed in the broiler exhaust hood. There were many Monday nights at Culver City that I thought the whole place was going to go up in flames. ( Hamburger Steak Night @ .99)
    Ty M. was the most talented ” grill master ” during my tenure there.

    Bob ….. were there showers at the Redondo store ?

    ” To Go ” orders were extremely rare. Rod Serling patronized the Culver City store after his days work at MGM which was just up the road. Anyway, he liked the Rib Eye steak sandwich and always ordered to go. I suppose he just went back to his car and enjoyed the sandwich in quiet privacy.

    Glad to say I was not confronted with any robbery situations. During my
    tenure I never learned of such events at any of the other stores as well.
    IN FIFTY YEAR HINDSIGHT , I would say Mr. Wood left his stores very vulnerable to early morning robberies. Woody’s did not employ an armored car service or utilize the services of the neighborhood banks.
    Different members of the office staff would visit each store on Mon, Wed, and Friday mornings ( 8AM) to change out the safe deposits and bring in fresh coin rolls.

    So ……. there were three staff members riding around town with their trunks loaded with all this CASH ! Monday mornings would have been the biggest heist because the sales receipts ( $$$$$) from Friday, Sat. and Sunday were being picked up. A potential robber who had cased out the Woody’s main office could have pulled off a heist netting around $14,000. All CASH !!
    This would equate to around $110,000. in todays values.

    I still have a few more of Bob’s issues to address , and I will do just that in a few days. In the meantime, relax and enjoy what is being offered here.

    Phil

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ I am here to join in the fun ~

    I thought Bob’s recent lengthy posting would have been enough to propel us into a newer ” Woody’s SmorgasBurger V ” site. It can’t be too far off.
    Let’s see if I can cover all of Bob’s interesting comments in one session.

    Woody’s Wax is an item I am not familiar with but it could be useful.
    Bob, I too am a fan of Long John’s, and for the same reason. I only get to patronize the place about once every three years as Mary Ann refuses to go along. We do enjoy the Cod fish and chips dinners elsewhere and we have four different places that offer a great meal for 10 t0 12 bucks.

    The glass mugs were the 10 oz size and featured the LYONS logo and did not have a Woody’s imprint. Yes, a lot of mugs and ashtrays went missing from the #4 store on Figueroa Street at USC. I worked the three stores on Sepulveda Blvd and there were losses there too, but no big deal.

    I am sure the USC store and the El Segundo stores were the top two earners
    throughout the 1960’s. By the early 70’s, Big Boy and the McD’s were
    gutting the sales at all the Woody’s except El Segundo . El Segundo continued to enjoy the fantastic lunch time business from the neighboring Hughes and Boeing patrons as there was no competition until the late 90’s with the appearance of a Carl’s Jr.

    Bob is asking about the weekend takes at the SmorgasBurger units.
    This to me was a strange phenomenon ;
    As I mentioned earlier, I was in a management position at the three stores
    on Sepulveda so I of course knew of the daily receipts.
    Well, all three stores performed exactly the same on Fridays and Saturdays.
    Each store posted sales of around $1,050 on each and every weekend day
    for at least three years running. Sales were always over $ 1,000. but could never break the $1,100. barrier. In hind sight, I would have liked to add 50 bucks of my own money just to hear the exclamation of Mr Wood and Mr Cramer about finally busting the $1.100. mark.
    I understand this is a normal in the restaurant industry, but I do not know why. I would think a unit would post bigger swings in comparable sales volume, but not so. Who can explain ??

    I am off to do a few chores……. will be back to address the remaining issues.
    Phil

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

    Wow…Booster Badge: nice memory image Phil! When I just went to the Ebay page http://tinyurl.com/zyoeczg , they list “Woody Wax” as a ‘related’ item . I don’t remember using it…did you need to in your day?
    Anyway, I can’t confirm but think your free mug of root beer is a good possibility.
    – Went to a combo Long John Silvers/A&W Root beer place, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/hbrnn8q for Fish n Chips just last week! (OK, OK, I’m aware there are several places that serve more upscale versions here in land-locked NM as I go to them, but dang it! who can really resist that oily fried crust once in awhile?) Anyway, I saw where they sell regular A&W root beer and mini, aka ‘shot’ sized, mugs, which raises the question of: Were a lot of mugs “lost” out the door or did Yellow Shirts have a secret loss prevention tactic? Was there a Woody’s logo on them, i.e. the mugs?
    – Oops, am having a flashback: were there metal ‘bins’ for trash under the grill? Was there a fire suppression thingy/squirter over the grill?
    – Ok Phil et al: as Y’all have not been working at this Blog hard enough of late:
    Say, what’s the worst or funniest happening at any of the Woody’s?
    Was anyplace ever held up? Was a weapon shown/seen or implied? Gun? Knife? X? How much was taken?
    Did any Gals (Ok Ok…in terms of today’s diversity…Guys) ever Flash for their dinner at the Register Guy? If so, did it work? (Upon reflection, a Gal would’ve worked it for me!!!!)
    Was there any sort of “Giving Back to the Community” happening?
    Whoa! I don’t ever remember doing a “To Go”. Did we? If so, did we take “Call-Ins”?
    What was an average Friday night and Monday Hamburger Steak Nite “take”. Was there a “store” (was that label even used back then) that consistently brought in the most? Was it also the most profitable?
    Did anyone ever get shot down for an idea of having an after 9 showing of some funky movie to draw teens in as a “hangout”/”hook-up” on Friday nights?
    Were prices the same across venues? E.g. More expensive at USC vs UCLA vs Culver City?
    Were the venues closed on Holidays? Were Christmas trees put up or were we stricly areligious? If so, was there any “heat” received about doing that?
    Did Woody ever get hip/wise up to having a Gal GM to ride around with him? Just askin! Is there any more “mitote” about the one Dude?
    (So sad…as I write this, news is all about shooter on your OSU campus. So hope dictum of Run/Hide/Fight is more worthwhile than days of Duck & Cover https://t.co/lxtE0Pc5Nh I worked during the October days of the JFK/ Cuban Missile crisis. Alas, we didn’t do any drills at HollyRiv Woody’s, but listened with a bit of Macho Concern to transistor radios….remember? they fit in a shirt pocket http://tinyurl.com/hxd3zum ?
    Salud!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Sunday ~ Woody’s booster buttons ~

    I see that Ebay has two Woody’s booster club buttons listed for sale.
    Some time ago I put out the question here as to what the benefits might have been when a patron came into the store wearing his /her button.
    One of our Readers suggested that a free Lyons root beer in the frosted mug may have been the payoff. I myself cannot come up with anything more reasonable, but can anyone here confirm or deny ?
    Phil

  • mark says:

    Let’s step back down memory lane for a moment and fondly recall the discipline that was dished out to the lowly busboy who wasn’t quite moving along as quick as he should. Or maybe not properly cleaning the tables as he had been instructed to do….Orrrr, if the linemen were pretty close to being done and ready to lock up and go find their girl and the busboy was holding everybody up with his slow shuffle.
    When the busboy was just passed the fireplace in the middle of the dining area but still within eyesight of the line, one of the linemen would grab a really wellll baked potato (really soft in the middle) that was soon to be going into the trash. I never saw who threw it (most likely my own brother!) but as soon as it was in the air, they would duck and run for the back room.
    When that perfectly timed arcing projectile smashed into the bus cart I literally shit my pants!!! The echo of words from my brother on previous work nights warning me that I better speed up or baaaad things were going to happen rang load and clear.
    There was no discussions, no attitude realignment talks from management, nothing even close to the P.C. crap that today passes for management intervention. Just a little note from my peers to get busy and do your job!!
    And, it worked like a charm.

    thanks from a 15 year old kid who needed a lesson in life.

  • mark says:

    After the night crew would close up for the night, social hour in the woody’s parking lot would begin.
    I remember Evan with that 4 wheel rocket! Story goes: Evan would head up into the hills of P.V. and really piss off the local cops with speed displays, quick u turns and driving in frony of the cops with headlights off. and of course, the police would engage lights and siren and start the chase. Evan, you would just toy with them as they tried to keep up and hopefully pull you over for citation or arrest. However, at the perfect moment you would turn a corner, scrubb off speed and pull into a driveway with your lights off….careful to keep the foot off the pedal while the cruisers screamed by.
    Hahahaha…..
    I believe the Woodys parking lot had numerous black stripes the width of a station wagon tire and about 40 foot long from one of the employees power braking their car. Mike, I think, was his name.
    And a 65 or 66 GTO with a 4speed and a 4 barrel carb…beautiful car.

    And Jims 68 vw bug.

    All great memories, and yes, I remember when, where, time of day, and most of all who she was.
    She is still here with me 44 years later. Love of my life and mother to my four children.
    God has blessed me. :)

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday #2 ~ ” Woody’s V ” ……. must be coming soon ~

    The count on ” Woody’s IV ” now stands at 250 ! Well done guys !

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