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

  • Evan Zang says:

    Thanks Bob. I hear you too. For me, it’s “all hands on deck” time. My wife is a RN, and though I don’t have a medical background, she and I are going to fly down to Texas and volunteer our time to whatever we can do to help out. We stopped writing checks to certain agencies (no names) during Hurricane Katrina when we discovered our money wasn’t actually getting to the victims. I spent a lot of time in Texas opening stores during the 90’s PETsMART days. Man, you haven’t experienced “America” until you’ve spent a few months in places like Ennis or Beaumont. It was like being in a time machine, going back to a place where everyone wore baseball caps, smoked cigarettes, and drank beer while they drove (it was actually legal). Other countries may criticize Americans, but I’ll tell you, when we have a true crisis, no nation on Earth can compete with American empathy and generosity.

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

    Hear/feel your concern Evan. Watching FNC/CNN spurred me to call my 97 yr old Aunt in Metarie/NOLA today who sounds like she has much more grit than I.
    Can’t imagine what the Folks in MetroHouston are going through especially those who relocated during Katrina.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Way off topic, I know, but I perceive that this group has quite a diverse number of interests in addition to our beloved Woody’s and Fast Food. I just got off the telephone with friends that live in Houston and also in Florida. They report that the damage is “much worse than what we are seeing on TV.” In addition to flooding, my friends explained that they now have to contend with stagnant, filthy water, Mosquitos, all of which, can certainly contribute to disease. These phone calls really upset me. It wasn’t like watching FOX or CNN. It was more personal. People I knew were hurting.

    As of Sunday afternoon, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey had exceeded the worst forecasts that preceded the storm. The entire Houston metropolitan region is flooded. Many offices, homes, and buildings in Cape Coral Florida are under water. Weather models suggest that this storm will linger well until Wednesday night, dumping more than 50 inches of water in total on Houston and the surrounding area. Global warming? Perhaps. I don’t know. But I do know that in April of this year, more than 400 gigantic icebergs had drifted deep into the North Atlantic shipping lanes. This is new, and expected to continue.

    For the record, I am not an alarmist, but I have always been interested in climatic change, especially now, when global warming appears to be a contributing factor to extreme occurrences in nature. Given what I’ve read and studied, Mother Nature has been “broadcasting” significant warning signs for years, and while powerful beyond our capacity to understand, she is also unforgiving when we exceed or abuse her rules.

    Sorry for the change in subject matter. It seemed important enough to share.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Friday ~

    Well, it looks to me like Bob took a few typing classes while at USC in 1963.
    His last two offerings are awesome !
    There are so many viewpoints on the term of ” Fast food ” , I think it would be hard to nail one down.
    My view would go along this way;

    Woody’s SmorgasBurger would certainly classify as fast food.
    Since I believe Woody copied Al Cassell’s main business model which originated in 1948, we should look at Cassell’s a bit closer.

    Cassell’s featured a boiler unit which cooked both sides of the beef patty at the same time. ( 1/3 lb. ) Also , Al and Woody did NOT offer fries which could have slowed the customers line. Cassell’s intended to get his lunch customers in and out as fast as possible, because they were all on very short lunch breaks.
    The famous potato salad was part of the complimentary condiment bar, which Woody also copied to some degree. ( not the free Potato salad ).

    Speaking on inflation : Cassell’s still operates today in their newer location which is in a hotel lobby.
    A 1/3 lb. cheese burger on a Parker House bun now sells for $ 9.99 !!!
    And this price does NOT include the free potato salad or fries.

    A Woody’s 1/4 lb. Swiss burger should come in around $ 4.89 today.
    I would LOVE to have one on a Parker House bun.


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

    Evan/Phil: Whoa! Thanks for your great analytics RE The Founder! Can’t agree with you more!….Indeed, the outcome was “disappointing”…altho (if one knew nothing else) who couldn’t feel it coming. Indeed who wouldn’t suspect Keaton wouldn’t have been chosen for the part…did a yeoman’s job of leading us up to it…LOL

    As I’ve mentioned in the past, my time was only about 10 months mainly in HollywoodRiv/Redondo with wonderful excursions subbing in CC before going off to grad school. Given my current time on this Blog, that span has been greater than that by….50 months this Aug…..eeek 60 months in tot….LOL…..hopefully suggests my appreciation/respect for Mr. Woods and “his org”. While my observations were relatively early on in its existence…and never seeing behind the curtain of “meetings” Y’all enjoyed, I can’t but imagine there were not times when “boundaries” were tested given that competition….especially in LA….was exploding at the time.

    If you would, might Y’all and anyone else herein, Comment on how you would define “Fast Food” as well as what makes for a place being a “Chain”. Do those apply to Woody’s? Some Folks where I am, proselytize dining should only be in Local/Mom n Pop venues; i.e. they despise the Chains. E.g. a “Local”, who was actually a son and lived 20 miles outside of ABQ proper, opened a restaurant out there featuring New Mexican cuisine. Slowly…step by step….he came into town to open another in ABQ about 10 years ago and this year will be reaching ‘maximum velocity’ with two more in a MetroPop of 3/4 of a million. Is he a “Chain” being 5? If yes, what is “bad” about that?
    I’d say (after the salad…LOL) I get my Henry IV http://tinyurl.com/y73vmehy (It is a Classic recipe being a ((medium)) 6 oz filet on a bed of artichoke leaves, crowned with the artichoke heart, all drizzled with Bearnaise sauce!) in about 15 minutes…isn’t that about the same for a 1/2# Smorg? If not, what’s the time cut off point for something being “fast food” or is there some other criteria.
    As the original McDonald’s had just a walk up window, but today’s have “indoor seating” and a Play-World for the kids, does seating have anything to do with it?
    I could go on and on, but I think Y’all get my drift…LOL

    But wait and BTW: The Hula Burger: Whoa…just six weeks ago, I had a BBQ Beef with a slice of pineapple in a Kaiser Roll from…OMG…a Food Truck, aka Mobile Kitchen…whatever! parked in front of a chart or craft or micro Brew Pub. Talk about dying and going to heaven…I can only imagine that (drug free) ecstasy was like what a Gal experiences when finding a piece of Chocolate in the far reaches of a freezer where she hid it several months previously. My gawd people! Imagine a grown man slopping up the drippings off a paper plate!!! Don’t know what it takes….timing? alignment of the stars? My G-kids look at me askance when I suggest chopped nuts and 1K Island on the burger their Dad just cooked!!! Who’d thunk?! Eh! did we scarf up ell/raw tuna smashed in a ball of rice wrapped in seaweed in the ’60s?

    Alas, Thanks for the book recommendations Evan. Maybe its age, but I can only “do” one book a year as being addicted to the internet! As such, just finished The Swamp by Eric Bolling…a BIPARTISAN expose of the history of DC’s finest. Smashing them all together embarrassed me how over the years I might have simply said “Oh Well!” as “instances” arose. (Interesting how last week the HuffPost “exposed” that 14 anonymous Gals (and without representation of lawyers) exposed that Bolling had exposed his “privates” two years earlier!? Were they attempting to take advantage of FOX News’ blushings re Ailes and O’Reilly?)
    And so the World Spins while I recommend the book!

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

    Yo Chris…et al….

    I don’t know if CA had an overriding Minimum wage about July ’62-June ’63, but this https://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm says the US Min Wage was $1.15. I’m pretty sure I may have started at The Woody’s Minimum wage of $1.26 (well I did have a BA from USC for Pete’s sake!) and made it to $1.32 before leaving just before the US Min Wage went to $1.25. In terms of calculating inflation from then till now using this http://tinyurl.com/ybephz28 , the Min Wage “should” only be $9.97.
    – Alas, while I’ve always fantasized being the Owner/Maitre ‘D of the caliber of a restaurant serving a Sobert as a palate cleanser between the Roquefort or Caesar’s (made table-side) salad and the serving of the Entree, which might include a Wagyu, e.g. https://www.lonemountainwagyu.com/, I apparently have chickened out given in NM you buy a hard liquor license from an owner of one for between 300 to 600K as the State only ‘issued’ a set number.
    Imagine! That would take 42K Margaritas to pay just that off! Beer/wine licenses are much much less.
    – Several weeks ago, I ran, serendipitously, into the owner of what seemed like a successful French Restaurant that I thoroughly enjoyed known as Chez Bob’s—>Que Fancy! (as said with an “uptalk”, as we say in the SW.) I lamented his having closed while asking hopefully about the progress of the stated plans to open a second venue in what is considered to be a vintage/chic stretch of Route 66 in ABQ. He noted that while he thought he could wade through the mire of City/Co. codes/permits etc., he said he realized he was finding it increasingly discouraging…aka he was losing any ‘patience’ in…. finding employees of the caliber he had who possessed a mindset needed in a fine-dining place, and so was giving up. (That turned out to be a bit of excruciating Good Luck as for the past several months businesses have been devastated by the Mayor’s initiation of a plan to make us a futuristic Metro city by tearing out two traffic lanes for a high speed electric bus system destroying the ambiance of Route 66 while carrying mainly unemployed Folk to services in the downtown area…so Sad…and mad).
    While Bob’s story helps temper my fine dining longings, I’m still holding out that a beauty like Melania Trump might someday walk into my life and fawn all over me while I’m volunteering passing out tourist info!!!!
    Bottom Line: Kudos to Y’all in whichever setting you attempt to feed us, the poor huddled masses….it takes Huevos…exemplified by your daring to use the “P” word to end your missive!!!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Thursday AM ~ Days of the Woody’s ” Yellow Shirt ”

    Chris , Another option for the EPL franchised stores might be to petition the El Pollo Loco Corporate to reduce both the Royalty and Advertising fees down from 4% to 2 %. This would give the store owners more breathing room to grow and this is what everyone seems to want. You have the clout to pull it off.

    A Woody’s Yellow Shirt signified that the owner was now functioning in a supervisory position. Part timers who were attending college usually covered two shifts on the weekends. A full time yellow shirt was designated as an Assistant Manager and worked 6 days a week on salary.
    Anyway, the job was a lot of fun. You got to boss the other guys without having the concerns of the store manager.


  • C. Pingel says:

    Phil. Yes, when I came back I had a yellow shirt.
    Here in L.A. the minimum wage went to $12.00 July 1st from $10.50.
    With the amount of labor required to run restaurants like ours, you can imagine the impact on our labor.
    We, of course, had to raise prices and cut hours wherever possible and look for other cost savings to help make up for the huge increase. Orange County has not gone up, yet. San Diego is also very high.
    It’s a real challange to do business in California and make a profit.

  • Evan Zang says:

    HI Bob. I saw The Founder when it first came out (I think Phil mentioned he’d seen it too). Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc was excellent. The film as a whole didn’t touch on the genius of the early franchisees, and how they boldly created and implemented marketing concepts that ultimately would define the fast food industry. Indeed, these same franchisees continuously experimented with menu items, and are responsible for the creation of the Big Mac, Filet O’ Fish, Quarter Pounder, and even Ronald McDonald! Kroc himself was not very good at creating new menu items, and his “Hula Burger” (grilled pineapple with a slice of cheese on a soft bun) was a gigantic flop. For those of us that cut our teeth in the hamburger industry, I would highly recommend two tremendous books: “Behind the Arches” by John F. Love, and “Grinding It Out,” by Ray Kroc. Both books can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday ~ Ray Kroc & the Woody’s Guys ~

    I saw the movie ” Founder ” shortly after it’s release and then made a few comments here on the site. This is a short recap ; Ray Kroc certainly had a penchant for progress which served most everyone pretty well in the early years. However, Ray had a dark side which became more evident as time went by. During the closing years of their relationship, the McDonald brothers where treated very badly by Ray Kroc.

    Ray did not foster any TRUST, nor did he show any RESPECT or INTEGRITY.

    Chris Pingel uses these three words to describe his business philosophy and I know he lives by them every day. I suspect Chris gained his insight from the two men who mentored him during their tenure together at Woody’s SmorgasBurger ; Charles Cramer and Ralph Wood Jr.

    Like anywhere else, the restaurant industry is made up of folks with very diversified personalities. As for myself, I am glad to have worked with the Woody’s Guys.

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

    Watched The Founder with Michael Keaton on Netflix last night. Hmmm….. Had heard bits/pieces about Ray Kroc and the coming together of McDonald’s, but never paid much attention to make it a cohesive story.
    Would recommend it if Y’all have a chance.
    Anyone seen it? Have a Comment as most of you were more “into” restauranteering than I was.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ Secret Menus ~

    In the mid to late 1960’s I was aware that there were a few items that were made special for customers at Woody’s SmorgasBurger. Of course the items were not considered secret , the crews on the line wanted to honor a request since we had all the ingredients. Brownie ala mode was a good one.
    Also broiled meat patties with chili and cheese popped up on occasion.
    The manager just came up with a price which was fair and that was it.

    I am now wondering if the El Pollo Loco stores have a secret menu .
    I myself could go for a three piece combo with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy plus two ears of sweet corn as my sides. ( the sweet corn would be soaked in water and then flame broiled beside the chicken …. WOW ! )


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

    Ya, I can picture that! A Great Busser hustlin making a dining room sweep to then stack racks waiting entry into the dishwasher while assuring trays at the beginning of The Line are topped awaiting to slide atop those aluminum ‘tracks”. One Guy at Salads to write the order on that thingy that transferred it electronically to the Asst. Man on the Register to mystify Folks as to their Tab. The other Yellow Shirt on the Grill syncing with the Drink Dude offtraying the Smorg/Alpine/etc. and all backed up by the Salad Guy as available. Smooth machinery in motion….was preceded by ProActive Prep….slicing the Kaiser Rolls, tinting the lemonade with beet juice, changing out the carton of milk, stacking the frig drawers with burgers……

    Very Very Generous that El P employed so many, but might they have needed a Vet to show ’em how to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) OMG!!! and someone wanted us to have Chicas out there!!!! I would’ve been oh so flummoxed (LOL)

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Friday ~ The staffing at Woody’s ~

    This is a short rundown on the small staff needed at the lunch rush;
    ( including the manager and asst. manager ) + 1 bus boy for the dining room.
    Culver City : 4 , but doable with 3 ~
    El Segundo : 5 , but doable with 4 ~
    Redondo : 4 , but doable with 3 ~

    This issue came to light because I was asking Chris how many employees
    it takes to fully staff his Culver City El Pollo Loco during the lunch rush.
    His reply ; 14 ~ That is one hell of an increase in labor cost !
    Remember at the EPL , they have the drive thru plus 743 menu items.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday ~ Current comment count = 1,334 ~

    Chris, when you rejoined Woody’s in the spring of 1970, did you
    hire in as a ” yellow shirt ” supervisor ?

  • Chris Pingel says:

    This is Chris again.
    I started out as a busboy in 64 under Ron Blasio. I became a lineman later under Ty, after Ron left. I loved working as a lineman, especially cashiering, except that you had to hand scoop the ice cream too. I hated when we would run out and have to get more from the freezer. The ice cream would be hard as a rock. Sometimes we would put it in the radar range to soften it a little. Not, really, a good idea.
    Anyway, I had to leave Woodys employment in 66 because my family moved, across town. I was very, very sad. My friend Mike stayed on.
    I did come back after I got married in 1970. I left my other job to come back to Woodys as a possible manager. Ther were two others I had to compete with.
    After a lot of hard work and long hours I was the chosen one at Culver City.
    That’s my management story for now.
    More later.
    Chris P.

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

    OMG…Girls on the Line? Pardon lest I repeat myself, but….
    Reflectively, I’m so so glad I went to an all Boys high school. Remembering back about being in a coed grammar school, things were getting stressful starting in the 6th grade when Girls returned in the Fall.
    At the time, it just seemed that going to that format of high school was the natural/normal thing to do…LOL. I never suspected my Mom might have had an astute/underhanded rationale…an insight into my, some might say, “failings”! OMG, coming to SC and thrown into classes with bevies of SoCal Girls hour after hour, day in and day out, was excruciatingly distractive. I can’t imagine how you Guys made it through high school….A better man than I!
    Gals at Woody’s? What did they wear by the ’70s? Ts with suspenders, miniskirts, short-shorts?!!!! The bikined-boopers coming into Redondo for a Smorg were “bad” enough. And then there was the occasional Mrs. Robinson coming down from PV to vex us.
    Ooh, the agony of it all!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Monday ~ It’s in the bun ~

    Think about this : A Woody’s SmorgasBurger served on a Ciabatta bun.
    Add fresh tomato, lettuce and onion slices.
    I’ll probably be thinking about this all night.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ We needed the girls ……….

    It’s been fun seeing Evan’s name on top of the ‘ Recent Comments ” marquee for so long. I suspect the duration is due to the comic-con doings.

    I am now thinking the majority of Woody’s managers did NOT come up thru the ranks like I did. I had to wear the Tyrolean uniform for several years while being a lineman and then when I turned 21 I was promoted.

    I suspect most managers hired in with the Assistant Manager Trainee program. If a guy was over 21 , he would be sent to one of the stores for a two week training period and then assigned to one of the stores as manager.
    This allowed these guys to escape the suspenders and straw hats and train in a nice yellow shirt.

    This occurred throughout all the years because of the usual high turnover and guys leaving for college. But, during the Vietnam draft period there were no experienced linemen to draw from because Uncle Sam was taking them all.

    The most common exceptions were the guys who had joined the National Guard or the 4F guys like me. You would have thought that Ralph Wood have given in and started hiring some girls. A new policy allowing girls sure would have helped me with hiring at Redondo Beach in 1967 / 68.
    Chris Pingel rehired in the very early 70’s and brought forth the needed change starting at the Culver City store. I wish I knew more about that.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Wednesday ~ Last day of being 71 ~

    Evan , I really enjoyed learning of your times at Gold Star and all the fun you were having, even at the cost of a full nights sleep.
    My two favorite drummers are Earl Palmer and Hal Blain. I picked up on Earl when he was playing with Fats Domino and providing that awesome back beat.
    As for me, I want to be a Sax player in my next lifetime.

    Now for a little recognition for the gal named Helen who was the bookkeeper
    at Woody’s office which was also in Culver City. Mr. Cramer brought Helen over from his past Mayfair Market offices because she could handle all the bookkeeping, banking , secretarial stuff, and on and on. She knew everything.
    So, from the very first days, Mr. Wood was free to spend as much time as he
    wanted out in the field because all the office and legal work was being taken care of by two people who had decades of experience.
    I think they all enjoyed their little set up in Culver City which lasted around fifteen years. ( 1956 / 1971 ) ~

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil we did indeed record a few times at Goldstar. A lot of the performing bands hung out there, and we got to share the performing stage with groups like The Standells, Iron Butterfly, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Electric Flag, Merry-Go-Round and even Peter Tork (sans Monkees). As teenagers we could only silently gawk when musicians like Jeff Beck would come in to casually chat it up with the sound engineers. We’d record often until 3 AM, stop at Norm’s for breakfast, rush home, catch a few hours sleep, then back to Redondo High School in the morning. I’m glad to have had the professional music experience. One of my closest buddies, Tony Garnier, is still in the industry,and for the last 30 years has been touring as musical director with Bob Dylan. We always get together when Tony is in town. And NO, I’ve never met Dylan. He’s quite shy.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Hi Phil. My percussion mentors were guys like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Joe Morello and Art Blakey. My dad was a jazz drummer in his youth, so when he began giving me lessons at age 10, he showed me what he knew – big band jazz. By the time I joined my first surf band, The Invaders, I was astonished at how easy the 4/4 tempo was to play compared to the more complicated jazz riffs. When The Beatles released She Loves You in 1964, I turned my attention to rock and roll groups who exploited crisp harmonies and memorable melodies. The Beatle’s Revolver album changed pop music forever. I mean, come on, a Sitar combined with rock and roll? Revolver is where it all happened, and I don’t think we will see this kind of extreme innovation again for a very long time.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ Always a busy day at the Woody’s stores ~

    I have returned to make a correction out of respect for Pete Rivera.
    The name of his band in the very early years was ” The Sunliners “.
    Years ago I could associate his band’s name with my 1957 Ford Sunliner which was the model with the fully retractable hard top going into the trunk.

    No, Pete and I were not buddies in school. He was a year ahead of me and we had no classes together. Pete’s bandmates were from neighboring public schools but they always volunteered to play at all of our school dances and other functions. We had a blast.

    Evan , I am wondering if you and the Paper Fortress recorded at the Gold Star studios ? That was a pretty heady time period for guys who could carry a tune.

    The Woody’s store in Redondo had plenty of room by the fireplace to host local talents, perhaps on Friday and Saturday nights. Of course Woody would have had to obtain a beer and wine license like the current Rock and Brew.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Friday ~ Woody’s on EBay ~ Plus some fun history for Evan ~

    This is a ” heads up ” for any guys who have a few $$$ hanging around.
    The Woody’s account on EBay is now featuring the most items available for sale than they have ever had at one time.
    The listings include an oval china platter, several ash trays, mugs and pins plus some match books as well.

    Ah Evan, nice to see you are one of the few drummers who can also sing.
    Kudos for giving the music scene a shot.
    I am now wondering if Peter Rivera of Rare Earth was perhaps a mentor to you. Pete and I went thru Catholic high school together in Detroit.
    At the time we were in school, Pete only played the drums as he had yet to discover that he could do a hell of a job as a lead singer too.
    A few years out of high school , Motown was looking to add a few all white bands to it’s label. So Pete and his ” Starlighters ” were the first or second band to sign with Motown, but were the first white band to make them money.
    I see Peter has a web site ….. and God bless him, he is still touring !
    Let’s celebrate !

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Woody’s & the El Pollo Loco ~

    A couple of months ago I posted a heads up regarding the upcoming Grill Master Challenge at the El Pollo Loco store in Burbank.
    Welllllll , today was the day !

    The 2017 champ is Enrique Pulido. What I have yet to learn is where Enrique
    works. He may work for a company store, but I am hoping to learn that he works for our own Chris Pingel and one of his stores.
    The cash prize was $2,500. !!!! I understand that is a months rent in LA.

    In our days at Woody’s, two guys continue to stand out as exceptional
    grill masters ; Ty Messersmith who fought the Monday Night Special flames at the Culver City store and conquered most of the time. ( Hamburger Steak Special, 99 cents. ) This special was very popular at Culver City, but no big deal
    at the other stores I worked.
    Bob Anderson worked the grill for me during the fabulous lunch rushes at the El Segundo Store. He followed me as manager and then was promoted to an area supervisor position. Well done guys !

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, Bob, all Woody’s posters thanks so much for keeping this site alive. I’ve been enjoying everyone’s posts, but lately have not had much to add to the rolling conversation. I was only at Woody’s for 2 Summers and then went on to performing in a local pop/rock band, The Paper Fortress. When our 45 RPM record finely began to get steady AM radio play in 1968, Casey Kasum, then a local DJ, took over as our manager. He was the first honest record guy we’d met and were impressed his ability to get us highly paid bookings in Hollywood Clubs. Some of my Woody’s buddies would always show up to see the band, which was great. As much as I liked Woody’s, my outrageously long hair and late performance hours wouldn’t have been a good match for the restaurant. If your ears can stand it (yeah, Tinnitus haunts me now) here are links to the songs that we recorded. Both tunes incidentally were composed by the late Tandyn Almer, who had hits with The Association (Along Comes Mary) and The Beach Boys (Sail On Sailor co-written with Brian Wilson). https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4-wOemFzKCs
    And https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HwRmtHf-Bl0

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ Sharrie Williams ~ Woody’s CC ~

    Yes Bob I did take your suggestion regarding a post to Sharrie.
    I went to her site and used the ” Visitor Post ” section. Great idea Bob !
    ( New Readers ; Sharrie was a regular at the Woody’s in Culver City during the mid 1960’s. We never met until 50 years later on the net. )

    Most of us here are now in our 70’s with just a few laggards in their 60’s.
    Sure, Woody’s has been gone for a long time and I still enjoy testing my memory here. A SmorgasBurger in 1961 was 44 cents. Less than a stamp .

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

    Phil A.notes: “Bob, I hope this answers your question…” and then he goes on to lament: “…. cause I’m tired.”
    In New Mexico…and considering the era from whence we come, “It’s Los Anos, Amigo!” On the bright side, your review attests you are keeping Alzheimer’s at bay (BTW, Anyone may donate here! https://www.alz.org/about_us_about_us_.asp)
    As such, let me say Thank You for rummaging through your brain. As this Guy from the era would say: http://tinyurl.com/q45n8b5
    My take away from what you described: Woody got a bit of a natural high (much akin to possibly what this guy was talking about: http://tinyurl.com/kpgy4xc (altho now/today, all bets are off) as an entrepreneur, but wouldn’t take it to the next level. E.g. In days of yore, when I was winning at the Craps Table, I too would freeze going from a 2 dollar bet to 5!)

    Say and BTW, Thanks to you Phil (going on a couple of years ago now) for turning us on to the really great read The Maybelline Story: And the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It.
    I’d like to note that Sharrie Williams, the authoress, hit her big 70 just last month! i.e. June/2017! For those who don’t know, Sharrie was a very popular and, IMHO, an extraordinarily cute Chica from Culver City High, http://tinyurl.com/y7j9k7yx who often brought her “sisters” to Woody’s CC. Alas, as Phil has self-confessed, he never lucked out! Even today, she’s got, IMHO, a lot going for her (is((blush)) hot) which we might surely posit is the result of eating Smorgasburgers!!! (I can only presume t’was the chopped nuts/1K dressing combo as toppings!) Check this out: http://tinyurl.com/qfom9qf (For those audiophiles amongst us who are wondering, the opening piece is Capriccio Italian often lurking as Side B on the ever popular 4th of July piece http://tinyurl.com/y7wjv3t6 Once again foodwise, this is not to be confused with CaRpaccio for those of us being a tad dyslexic! BTW, during the initial chapters herein, Sharrie did give us a “shout out” and we her: http://tinyurl.com/zk6wmsl Bottom line: Consider possibly giving her a belated Big 70 Happy Birthday? Thanks!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~Wednesday ~ What do I know ? ~

    Hi Bob of NM, and all Readers,
    In addressing your question I need to showcase two individuals associated with Woody’s who remained in the background by choice.
    Charles Cramer ( Ralph’s uncle ) and Edwin Fox were partners who started and grew the Mayfair Markets chain over several decades.

    They sold Mayfair in 1954 , and Mr. Cramer was looking for something new.
    His talents with Mayfair was working with leasing agents, store locations,
    store openings, all issues with financing and banking, vendor selections and
    purchasing. I guess Mr. Fox did the remaining stuff.

    Mr.Cramer and Ralph Wood partnered to open Woody’s in 1956.
    Mr. Fox re entered the food business with his own Fox Markets.

    Sooooooo Bob, after the first Woody’s in Culver City proved to be a “barn burner” , Mr. Cramer merely swung into action doing for Woody’s the same chores that he had been doing for his Mayfair markets.
    Since he knew all the leasing agents in California for years and years, he would get ” first choice ” offerings from both the agents and his buddy Mr. Fox. Mr.Fox was leasing big properties for his new Markets, so quite often there was space available to sub lease a corner to a restaurant.

    My opinion is that Mr. Wood proved to be the gambler of the two men.
    He wanted to try the new venues such as the Fish House (1960 )
    The Admiral Risty ( 1966) the Carvery ( 1967 ) The Catalina Grill ( 198?).

    Mr. Cramer and Mr. Wood certainly had hundreds of meetings to resolve their differences on so many issues …… and I would have loved to have been a fly on their office walls when this stuff went down.

    What is MOST surprising to me is ; Mr. Wood was very hot on trying new food service venues, BUT once the Woody’s was up and running he did not show any talent for menu revisions. ( additions OR eliminations ).
    There were NO fries , NO condiment bar expansion, NO salad bars, No beer,
    No wine, No big screen TV, NO patio enhancement, and NO air conditioning.
    All this should have and could have been done in the mid 1960s.

    I say this because when Mr. Cramer re partnered with Chris Pingel in 1972, all of the above items were instituted in very short order with much success.
    So, we have four important players here with each one bringing his own ideas and drive. Bob, I hope this answers your question, cause I am tired.

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

    Alas Phil…with the exception of age and your having had ‘a few’ Raspberry Margaritas….I can understand anyone being flummoxed by my blatherings at times as I suffer from ROATMD (Running Off At The Mouth Disorder) as well as a tad of dyslexia which not only might (or is it ‘might not only’?) involve reversing letters or numbers, but includes switching around whole phrases etc within sentences.
    – As such and trying to be more succinct by drawing upon the military strategy of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), my thought is that initially many people start a business with/for the pride of ownership and making a living, in mind. I was wondering if, per your perceptions/understandings of Woody, do you think the excitement/rush that might be associated with wheeling and dealing in building a second locale per getting the financing, modifying/creating a better architectural design as well as succeeding in getting lower prices with contractors/purveyors of chopped nuts, buns, burgers etc. became the goal per the “high” accompanying that success versus the subsequent venues in-and-of-themselves?

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday ~ Back so soon ~

    I’m back only to say that I am not recommending the Raspberry Margaritas.
    We picked up a bottle because it looked and sounded so yummy . It is okay, but will not repurchase again. The Original lime is what we will go back to with much enthusiasm. Please drink responsibly !

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Tuesday , 4th of July ~ Quality and Integrity ~

    First of all I need to commend Bob of NM for hanging in here. I must admit that I had trouble understanding your post of June 13th and what point you were making. So, what do I know ? A misunderstood posting is still better than none at all. Thanks Bob !

    Secondly, I enjoy reading all the postings regarding the Hungry Tiger and Victoria Station restaurants. The commenters are very often ex employees who share how much they loved working there. The tone of their narratives reminds me of what occurred with the Woody’s SmorgasBurger stores.

    Of course the two restaurants were higher end venues with Prime Rib and Lobster, but the big difference was the age of the workers.
    Woody’s crews were made up of high school and early college guys where
    HT and VS staffs were all in their 20’s and 30’s.
    All three venues here knew full well they were serving the highest quality foods and were proud of it. They all loved interacting with fellow employees and their customers.
    The waiters and bartenders at HT and VS were making tips of course, but the feeling of ” enjoying the job ” transcended the tips.

    I feel that if employees can respect the quality and integrity of their workplace, then the other stuff has a good chance of flourishing as well.
    God knows the restaurant business has always been tough, and now only getting tougher. I have said before, I don’t know how these operators sleep at night.

    But, when we talk about the Woody’s, the HT’s and the Victoria Stations getting most things right, most of the time ……. well then, it’s just too damn bad they no longer exist.

    On a happier note;
    Now that I brought these venues up, I will honor them all by toasting their memories this afternoon with several Raspberry Margaritas. ( 1800 brand )

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

    OMG…a half a month without chatter? I was beginning to think my missive of 6/13 threw cold water on everything! Then I began to remember all the faux interplay on the cable newz channels possibly garnering everyone’s rapt attention which relieved my mind to think maybe Folks were just off on vacations. BTW, that is oft a conundrum for several of us however….cuz if you are retired, can ya really take a vacation?
    Question: as the Fourth most typically means “family time” and most typically a BBQ in those new things called patios way back when, was Woody’s closed in celebration? [Say, as most might be doing some ears of corn and there is nothing better than an ear slathered with butter and touch of salt…still, here’s a possible interesting bit of diversity to wet your whistle…. http://tinyurl.com/yd6l9yxd as ya tip a PBR or Margarita]

    In any event, let me say to Y’all:
    May the Fourth be with You!!! http://tinyurl.com/y894zaex

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

    Yo Phil A/Anyone…..Hope my reflections of June 2nd and 7th in regard to my curiosity of what might have motivated Woody as he began to explore growing The Brand, weren’t too vexing and that you are mulling over your possible insights. LOL
    I think many, not all, Folks might start out one way in their entrepreneurial endeavors, and certain bio-chemical excitations kick in with success whereby the trip (getting the financing, modifying/creating a whole new design, working new deals with building contractors/purveyors, etc.) along the way becomes more important/fulfilling/satisfying than the destination (e.g. another Woody’s building in Riverside etc.) I.e. people become e.g. dopamine/adrenaline junkies? Elsewise, “everyday” People often express being flummoxed by The Rich, e.g. how much money will it take to make you happy? They fail to understand/experience it is no longer The Money! Its got nothing to do with Greed! While Folks like to espouse “We’re all created equal!”….in actuality, we ain’t through No Fault of Our Own. Did you ever have a two dollar bet on the Pass Line qualify for 10X Odds and then build up 3 two dollar bets with odds Coming on the crap table that start to pay off especially when you are down to your last 8 dollars of your budgeted gambling money?!!! (Ya right, today you can find a table with a 2 buck minimum!) OK…didn’t ya ever hit a Royal Straight Flush on a 25 cent poker machine? OK OK! didn’t ya ever find a parking meter with an hour left and get a “rush”? I.e. many Folk, never experience a psychophysiological “feeling” that comes with such things which makes it hard to understand the mover/shakers of the world, whereby they may end up ascribe malintent to them….Oh, maybe JFK was and Trump is a case in point.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ A 25 minute video featuring the Admiral Risty ~

    While perusing the net for additional details on the Admiral Risty, I discovered a 25 minute video which was made at the 50th year celebration.
    Go to the UTube site ; ” Admiral Risty 50th anniversary. ”

    The date posted for the video is February 10, 2016. I do not know why this party was held so early in the year because the official opening was in October, 1966. Anyway, I am now wondering if anyone we know was invited
    to this celebration. I kept looking for Chris Pingel and his wife to show up.

    Two of Ralph’s children ( Sara and Eric ) are featured with short interviews.
    The current owner ( Wane Judah ) is on camera a lot while sharing many interesting details. It is fun to see all the old codgers coming on camera to rave about their favorite restaurant and menu items.

    No one was talking about the beverages and cocktails, and I might know why.
    The Risty in all of it’s 50 years was never known for ” generous ” pours coming from the bartenders. In fact, I have heard the drinks described as
    ” baby drinks ! ”

    All in all, it looks like the party guests were having a great time and this video allowed me a high degree of enjoyment as well.
    I did learn one important fact. The Risty will open during daytime hours to host gatherings such as weddings, meetings, card games, etc.
    I always thought the Risty should be open for lunch to the public everyday.
    What do I know ?

    Summer is a week away…… have a great one !

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

    Ha ha RE my June 2nd comment: just read paragraph 3 of Mark’s “bio” of Red Tracton http://oldlarestaurants.com/tractons/ which kinda reflected on my wondering, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/q45n8b5 ,about what was the underpinning of Woody’s “expansions”. Did they know one another by chance?

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

    I just passed on a menu http://tinyurl.com/y9jsurnn (click to enlarge) for a place called Sorrentino’s out Burbank way which was apparently a go-to, plush place for Folks in the movie-TV industries. Several days ago, I passed on a similar menu for Scandia’s an in place on Sunset Strip for e.g. Sinatra for a time.
    Du..Uh, in looking at the prices…e.g. a Filet < $5, how the heck did Woody draw that kind of competition to ever save enough to 'expand'?
    Was generating another Woody's site an End in itself or just one of the checkers (via credit?) in a financial board game?
    Eh! Your turn…roll those dice!

  • Evan Zang says:

    Good Luck Chris! EPL rules!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Thursday ~ Advance notice for some upcoming fun in Los Angeles ~

    I just learned from the hot wire that the El Pollo Loco restaurant chain will be resuming their long time running ” Grill Master Challenge “.
    This contest is focused on the EPL employees who man the giant flame
    broiling grills in the nearly 500 units in the Southwest. The grill person who does the best job of preparing the chicken, broiling to perfection and then having the best presentation will be deemed the ” #1 Grill Master ”

    Elimination rounds are being held in May and June and the final winner will be selected on July 11 , 2017 ( a Tuesday ).
    The final contest location is 521 N. 1st street ~ Burbank. (store will be open )

    This is no small deal my friends. There are BIG $$$$$ prizes plus there will be lots of fun watching the previous winners take on the newer rookies.
    This is the first year the Challenge will be open to the public to witness,
    ( NOT to participate ). Anyway, this is why I am broadcasting this news.
    Our own Chris Pingel is a multi/multi store owner/operator so of course we need to be rooting for his guys or gals.

    My posting here relates to Woody’s in a very big way. As most of you know, Chris worked for Mr. Wood in the early 70s and then purchased the two remaining stores in late 1978. ~ So , it will be fun to think of Mr. Wood looking down on his still active protégé.

    Many in this group are no longer in the area ( no quakes for us ! ) so come mid July , we will have to ask Chris to give us the official updates.
    This Grill Master Challenge will be a welcome respite from all the Com Cons and baseball games.

    Have a great summer !

  • Evan Zang says:

    Bob, looking at the picture you posted where Woody’s used to stand in Redondo actually made me feel a little sad. That area used to be so ridiculously cool and unpretentious. Now it looks like every other high end tourist beach town.

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

    This August, KISS’ Rock & Brews will be open 3 years here in Albuquerque. Looks like a beautiful/fun setting for gathering of Folks for some brewskis and burgers (including our indigenous Green Chile Cheeseburger) and other Yum Yums, but its weird (neurotic?) that my heart ain’t into stop in. I guess it was the shock of seeing what they built on the footprint of Woody’s HollyWood Riv (aka Redondo) http://tinyurl.com/lwd3twt especially seeing the high ceiling, the picnic tables (albeit larger and redesigned ones), and the floor to ceiling windows facing north as was Woody’s http://tinyurl.com/lybso46 . Can’t imagine what it must be like in real time going by there if ya live out there, let alone CC and El S.
    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.
    http://tinyurl.com/mtgdfa6 (Whoa! I read the book the summer of my sophmore year!)

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    RE: A portion of Phil’s post on April 27th:

    “~ Working with Willie : William was the long time opening bus boy and prep man. He was a study in slow motion for sure. He was so slow moving around the dining room or in the kitchen, and yet so damn efficient. Not one wasted step.”

    I also had the honor of working with Willie for a while around 1970 or 71 when he came to the Westwood location for a short while.

    Willie was a man who worked hard for his family. Woody’s wasn’t his only job – I seem to recall him mentioning a couple of other restaurant jobs he was working the same time he was with us. Gave him a ride home to South L.A. a few times in my Corvair.

    As you said, Willie was slow, but he certainly got the job done. I enjoyed working with him.

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

    While not Methodist, but in the Spirit of being Ecumenical and “Catholic (i.e. http://tinyurl.com/keuy65j“, Congrats & Kudos to the Lovedays for their many years of success starting out here: http://tinyurl.com/l5s7qpf !

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    OK, a little personal El Segundo trivia for you all……..
    On a rainy Saturday, January 19, 1974, my bride and I were married at the El Segundo United Methodist Church on Main St. Church is still there, and we are still ‘we’. And there were a couple of Woody’s employees in attendance……

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Thursday ~ Memories at age 71 ……..

    I would like to join Chris in sharing a few memories of my own.

    ~ Woody’s #1 , the Culver City store: The Annual 2 for 1 Sale which was held one spring day each year. A lot of work and a whole lot of fun.
    ~ Gathering after closing in the back parking lot. Just standing around shooting the breeze till 1 or 2 AM. No alcohol , just Lyons root beer.

    ~ Woody’s #7 , El Segundo : Working with Bob Anderson and the crew I inherited. They all made my managers job so easy. One could not believe it.
    ~ The December, 1966 Christmas season. The crew and customers were all in a fabulous frame of mind. Never experienced anything else like it since.

    ~ Woody’s #2 , Redondo Beach : The Saturdays in summertime. Everyone has a favorite place to go and people watch. Well , for me, it was like getting paid to come to work at the cash register station and watch all the lovely
    bikini clad girls come in with their friends.
    ~ Working with Willie : William was the long time opening bus boy and prep man. He was a study in slow motion for sure. He was so slow moving around the dining room or in the kitchen, and yet so damn efficient. Not one wasted step.

    ~ The Admiral Risty : Watching Mr. Wood stressing himself out in mid 1966
    at our monthly managers meetings. Mr.Wood was so concerned about his ability to hire an honest beverage manager for the Risty. He himself had no direct bar tending experience, but was very aware that there were methods a dishonest bar tender could use to rip him off.
    The Admiral Risty opened in October, 1966 with much fanfare. As the months came and went, there were several personal changes but they could have occurred for many reasons which is normal of course.

    ~ The Carvery: Mr. Wood was really hot to join the roast beef venues.
    However the location he chose in Woodland Hills was all wrong for too many reasons. The store folded in less than three months, then converted to a SmorgasBurger store.

    The above list is made up of the stores I had direct experience with.
    There were several other units around Los Angeles and in Orange County which I was not familiar with.

    That’s it for today. Such fun here.

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Well we used to say about El Segundo “Where the smog meets the Fog”
    Actually, El Segundo is a very nice little city.
    Our 7th Woodys was built in El,Segundo in 1963. The original one was built in Culver City in 1956.
    The El Segundo Woody’s, we call #7, was one of the higher volumn stores due to all the aero space surrounding it. The lunches were always very busy Monday thru Friday. Weekend were just ok.
    In the 80’s when the Raiders were located in El Segundo, very close to Woodys, our Sunday sales were out of sight because we were the first to Have satellite tv and were able to get all thier games on Sundays and since we put in TV’s and sold beer and wine we were jammed all during the games. it was an exciting time for Woodys. We used to deliver food to the Raiders facility regularly. We always had lots of volunteers to deliver because you would see some or all of the team or Al Davis. He loved the King Swiss, a half pound burger with swiss cheese. He would always order 2.
    If anyone has any questions or wants to share information about the Woody’s chain feel free to join oour conversation.
    Thanks for the interest.
    Chris P.

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

    RE El Segundo. It means The Second.
    But, the second of what?
    Amongst some, it was translated as The Stink due to the smell of the refinery tank field. One might wonder, like the smell, if that negative slang lingers to this day and the City Mamas & Papas might do better to change its name to Sepulveda as more ‘romantic’.

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ Monday , midnight ~ You never know ! …….

    Very often while at this Woody’s site, I get vibes that Gary Wilcut is around here reading this stuff. Gary was with the CC store in 62/63 and maybe a bit of 64. Anyway Gary, type a few sentences and let us know you are okay.
    You are missed !

  • Phil A. says:

    ~ Sunday ~ a day off please ……….

    A much more accurate translation for ” The Flying Chicken ” restaurant at LAX is ” El Pollo Volador “. It even sounds better.

    Sunday was the quiet day at the Woody’s stores. Friday and Saturdays always
    posted sales of $ 1,050.00 each day, while Sunday sales came in at $500.00.
    This was during the mid to late 1960’s.

    Sunday was usually the managers day off so the assistant managers and yellow shirt supervisors got to run the show on both shifts.
    That was great experience for 19 and 20 year olds as it built self confidence very fast.

    Several of you guys have been traveling about the world these past months seeing London , Yellowstone Park , the Ozarks, and Hawaii.
    Thank you all for sharing photos and your travel updates.
    Wishes for safe travels home.

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday 3 ~ What do you guys think about this ?

    I have learned via the Daily Breeze that the El Segundo city fathers are about to change the name of Sepulveda Blvd. to Pacific Coast Highway.
    They feel this sounds more romantic since El Segundo is the gateway to the South Bay even though not included in it.

    At first I was put off , mostly because I dread changes of any kind.
    If Manhattan Beach were to go along, it would make more sense.
    The LAX airport property probably would stick with Sepulveda since it
    is in Boss Angeles.

    I now wonder if my 51 year old Woody’s El Segundo business cards will become collectors items.

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