Woody’s Smorgasburger V

Here’s a new thread for those of you discussing Woody’s.  The other ones are closed for further posting but you can still read what’s there.

82 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger V

  • Michael says:

    Ralph Wood, the founder and creator of Woody’s, opened his fine dining restaurant, Admiral Risty in 1966, in the Golden Cove Shopping Center on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Risty was his wife. The landmark of the restaurant is the huge mast that still stands anchored in front of the restaurant with flags flying. My dad built that mast for the restaurant. He was in the pipe and steel business in LA for decades. A year ago my wife and I took my mom and dad to the Admiral Risty for the one and only time they ate there. Regrettably, the Admiral Risty closed for good in August of last year and my dad passed away in May of this year at age 91. The mast still stands and may be declared a landmark by the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

  • Wendell Jackson says:

    Not much I could add to 5 full blog sessions, but I particularly enjoyed the synergy we experienced working at Woody’s. Phil Hartman late at night on the microphone could be a real treat! I also recall Dave Zackrison, Jay Sheldon, Fred Walters, Forrest Brown(?), Rich Ingram, and the incomparable Will-yum, in addition to those mentioned. El Segundo / Redondo Beach 1965-1967.

    Thanks Phil, Evan, Bob, Nostalgic, Anonymous and others for keeping this thing going.

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

    Whoa Mark H., that would be great and especially any interior shots.
    Am not sure how you’d enter videos and if its not possible by communicating with the Mark, the creator of the blog me@oldlarestaurants.com and you are not familiar with ScreenCapturing, this https://app.prntscr.com/en/index.html is a great app for that!
    Please be sure to tell us the years involved as well as how the copying went.

  • mark HUSAR says:

    Steve Shriver.

    I recently started the daunting task of digitizing all our family home movies from our time living in Redondo Beach. Should I come across any clips that may show the Woody’s building I will post here if possible.

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

    Was there a way the root beer was able to be Greenized for St. Paddy’s Day?
    At any time, were the baked potatoes complimentary on St. Paddy’s Day or some corned beef and cabbage brought in or anything Irish done?
    Did we give a tip of our Tyrolean/Alpine hats while saying “Top of the Evening to ya, Lassie!” all on St. Paddy’s day/week?

  • Jeff Holtzman says:

    When we were kids we used to love going to Woody’s in Culver City. My brother and I would put all kinds of weird fixin’s on our burgers to our parents chagrin.

  • Steve W West LA says:

    Loved going to Woody’s and making my opwn hamberger concoction.
    Wish is was still on Sepulveda om Culver City

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

    Yo Greg…Glad ya have memories of crushed nuts from the Do-it-Yourself Sundae Bar and the “sauce” from the ‘condiment bar’! I whole heartedly agree with that as the best combo; the best I knew…working about a year, ’62-’63…mostly in Redondo where KISS’ Rock n Brew sits upon today, the “sauce” was just “plain old” Thousand Island  Dressing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand_Island_dressing albeit I stand to be corrected.Which Woody’s did ya visit and around what years? Do ya have any pics? Did ya take an SO there?

  • Greg Weitzman says:

    I realize I am late to the game, but I grew up eating at Woody’s and yes, a burger loaded only with peanuts and that great sauce. ANYBODY know the recipe for the sauce?

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

    Hey Robby, GR8 to see your post! I was ’62-’63 in Redondo with occasional subbing in CC. As such, there was a microwave in Redondo wherein we did bake potatoes in a batch for dinners. As such, I’m guessing maybe you were at CC earlier? Either way, look forward to your contributions, e.g. in your time (which was when?), did you also have 99 cent Hamburger Steak Dinners on Monday nights and, if so, how’d it go? Did you have any Celebs? Did you have great times on weekend nights with kids from CC High hanging out there? Thanks!

  • Robby Vandermark says:

    I worked at the Culver City Woody’s I was puloined from the Jack in the Box down the street with an offer of more money. I started as full time and started on the grill. We had what I think was one of the first ever microwaves in the world it was huge I was told I could get the outside of a hotdog done then put it in the microwave to finish but I had no idea how long to set it for and couldn’t imagine something cooking that fast so my first hotdog was brought back by the customer when I handed it to him it looked beautiful but itside it was like wood and I mean actually that hard. I can remember mr. Wood wood sit in front of our counter and he would say “pull that hat back off your face we can’t see you”. He was nice to me and asked me on occasion to help in Westwood and Redondo Beach

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

    Yo Steve…nice dropping in. Alas, I think several of us are waiting for those pics! In its stead, how about what I’m thinking was a Mrs. Sees Candies kitty-korner https://tinyurl.com/y4n8glbz and my FAV to get a coffee ice cream shake done thin, aka a Frappe in MA, 31 Flavors (aka Baskins Robbins) which I could enter its back door, opposite Woody’s front. Here’s B/R’s front https://tinyurl.com/y277e3me Alas, can’t imagine it is still there since ’62-’63! Used to pair it with a “comped” Shish-Kabob for my dinner.Technically, it was in Redondo and more technically, Hollywood-Riviera…LOL
    ~ Were you a Woodsman or Guest and when? Anything you remember that stands out?
    ~ I think  KISS’ Rock n Brew on Woody’s footprint today is, at first glance, eeriely similar inside and out when one does a Google-Image search. 

  • Steve Shriver says:

    Anybody out there have a photo of the Torrance Woody’s at PCH and PV Blvd? I’d love to find anything, and have not been able to find anything much. Exterior or interior ok.

  • Courtney Mohan says:

    I remember Woody’s in Westwood. I believe it had a wood car panel on the outside of the building. I must have been seven or eight years old. My babysitter Becky dated a young man who worked their. His name was Zia. I don’t remember his nationality. The two ended up getting married. They had two children. Sadly they did end up divorcing and Zia died shortly after that. I cannot remember Becky’s maiden name nor can I remember Zia’s last name. Is there a picture of Woody’s in Westwood somewhere. I’d love to see the old building.

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

    Hey John…Thanks for the heads up of which I was aware.
    YES! “Woody” (RIP) indeed created Admiral Risty for fine dining. Must be nice to be able to build a restaurant for your and your wife’s convenience, let alone with a nice view, in your own neighborhood, i.e. PV . Alas, I’d never been…LOL
    As you may have read by me, while he was as some might say, a Wheeler-Dealer in the wild days of the development of the quick n cheap burger as especially/uniquely in LA, he was, IMHO, a Genteel man. I believe part of his success was he stayed involved overseeing his several places and treated employees well. E.g. in my short tenure at Redondo/Hollywood Riviera and Culver City to earn $$$ to move on to grad school, I was paid 7 cents above the $1.25 minimum wage of ’63…LOL!!!…while suggesting I go to U of Hawaii instead for Hotel and Hospitality Management.
    [Alas the better advice would have been to get an additional job for a couple of years to scarf up all the one bedroom get-away cottages of the ’30s/’40s(?) built along The Strand in Hermosa/Manhattan!!!]

  • John Hindsill says:

    Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) I believe that I read on one the Woody’s pages that The Admiral Risty restaurant had the same ownership as Woody’s. If this is a bad memory, the comment below is just an unrelated factoid.

    The LA Times last week had a story about the impending closing of Risty after a 50+ year run. That is an envious run, enjoyed by very few such businesses. I don’t know if you had gotten that news in Los Ranchos.

  • Susan Bradley - Mote says:

    ChrisP were you the Manager of the Culver City Woody’s back in 1978? Just checking to see if you were that guy :)

  • richard dowdy says:

    On the way to and from Malibu to surf, we came upon Woody’s Smorgasburger and were hooked. Being able to put on your sandwich whatever you wanted sometimes went overboard…but we made up for it with the hot fudge sundae!
    Quite a few years ago I drove my wife to LAX from Carlsbad where she flew to London for a week. On the way home I stopped at Woody’s…but it was no more. Very sad to see it go away, as have many other former great places.

  • chrisp says:

    I am so sorry to tell all the Woodys Smorgasburger contributors that this August 17th 2019 the Admiral Risty restaurant will close it’s door forever after 52 very successful years doing business on the Palos verdes Peninsula in California. They, unfortunately, were unable to nagotiate a new lease (a lease they could live with). This is ,really sad news, especially, for those of us that have frequented them for most of those 52 years.
    Ther is no finer restaurant on the peninsula.
    Wayne the owner, who took over the restaurant after running it for many, many years and was a partner in the later years and, after Mr. Wood passed away a few years ago bought the restaurant from the family.
    We will miss him so much.
    The Admiral Risty was built in the late sixties and was a part of the Woodys Smorgasburger organization until 1971 when the Woodys portion of the company was sold.

  • BOTVOLR says:

    Ya know, given Woody’s Alpinean motif/uniforms/and the names of our Burgers, I, as a young Tyrolean behind the counter server, am glad we did not have female Tyrolean co-servers as these Lassies might have been a distraction. Elsewise, I’m not sure why Mr. Wood did not take advantage of Chicas like this http://tinyurl.com/y8eugpp5 to stroll amongst the patrons to maximize the experience tho. Surely would have added 5 years to the existance of the places!

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

    Susan B.: Whoa! that is sooo Cool! Despite your self confessed PITA side, ya must have a sweet side too. I’m guessing I shouldn’t be jealous and I should look on the bright side that no Chica “from The Customer Line” (we didn’t have Gals on the Server Line in my time) has dropped by to make fun of my literally drooling at them in their bikinis while making a salad or change!
    – Say, what were the Gals’ uniforms like…did they include a Tyrolean hat with a feather as we had http://tinyurl.com/y9u4vrzk ?
    Some of us didn’t have ribs during our times…were they pre-seasoned/frozen or done from scratch…bare nakked?
    (PS: I hope this isn’t just Chris P. signing in under a pseudonym trying to impress us!!!! Otherwise, Bravo to him!….LOL)

  • Susan Bradley says:

    Chris P. I believe I worked for you in 1978 – it was my very first job and you taught me how to grill the ribs and make burgers – I know I was not there long – you probably fired me for something…..I am a pain in the ass still to this day lol – you left a big impression on me though – super nice man, and one of the best Manager’s I have had since. Let me know if it was you!

  • Phil Ankofski (64~68) says:

    ~ Rare ashtray ~

    Ebay has a seller who is listing a Woody’s ashtray which features the names of only the first two stores, Culver City and Torrance. Yes, this makes it pretty rare, but not rare enough to warrant a $99.00 bid start.

    The seller should consider that his audience is very limited because they are now in their mid 80’s. I suppose I would chase the bidding if it was around twelve of fifteen bucks, just for some fun.
    Anyway, I will monitor the inaction as the days go by.

    Of course, you never know, even when you think you know. ( Let it Ride )
    Phil A.

  • Phil Ankofski (64~68) says:

    ~ A big discovery for Bob, Evan, and others too ~

    I also was perusing the very early comments made in 2013 on the first Woody site. I came across an interesting posting by Ken on June 21, 2013.
    Within his short narrative he mentions the name of Woody’s one and only general manager ! I remember several of the guys here were racking their brain cells over this name issue. Now you have it !
    Proceed to the first Woody site next to ZITO’S and scroll back to June 21, 2013. Ta da … mystery solved !
    Phil A.

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

    Ha ha….went back to the “1st page” to check out “training”…re-read some of the first postings , e.g. You Guys saving the place by being staked out in the back of a station wagon during the riots; Ken nonchalantly disarming a hood…which apparently is not as hard as it sounds like I just saw this week http://tinyurl.com/ya3g5cw5 LOL

  • Phil Ankofski (64~68) says:

    ~ On the job in Culver City ~

    Yes Bob, I remember my very first shift in Culver City. For some reason I was hired in as a lineman and skipped over the busboy position.
    The shift was from 5 to 8 PM and I was started out as the ” drink man “.
    Every time I poured a Lyons root beer, I was told to set the mug on the tray and then proceed to turn the handle toward the customer. Fine and dandy.
    As my hand held mug approached the tray within an inch or two, Russ would turn toward the milk dispenser and then give me a gentle jab in the ribs.
    My reflex turned hyper causing the root beer to splash all over in front of the customer. The guy working the register was in on it as well.

    Another time I was told to fill a bowl with dill chips from the walk in cooler.
    As I dipped my hand into the 5 gallon can of Rykoff pickles, Russ came in and started laughing about how Don E. had just pissed in that very pickle can a bit earlier. And yes, the pickle juice did look like piss water. Such fun .
    Phil A.

  • Phil Ankofski (64~68) says:

    ~ In house training at the Woody’s units ~

    I think Evan nailed it regarding the learning process. The three linemen positions ( excluding the grill ) were all real easy to learn and after a newbies
    third or forth shift, he was pretty much on his way.

    The OPENING BUSBOY had so much more to learn and he always worked his shift by himself. He had to get the dish machine up and running, clean the grill,prep the salads and deserts, prep the dining room and condiment bars,
    plus cleaning the parking lot ! In hindsight, that position should have paid an extra 50cents per hour. No shit .

    Each new employee was given a small pamphlet ” Woody’s General Rules “.
    I had a single pristine copy which I gifted to a friend and I don’t think I photo copied it before sending it off.
    Anyway, I posted many of the rules on the very first Woody site.
    You can locate the 5 postings by scrolling back to June 19th, 2013 ~
    Since there is 1,600 postings now , it took me awhile to find them.
    Just be sure to go back to the very first Woody site next to ZITO’S.

    Next, the managers had access to an in store copy of the Operations Manual
    which covered everything except the amount of TT you could use while in the restroom. ( NO, it did not have the Salsa recipe either ! )
    My friend took much time and effort to replicate this manual for me so I could include it in my ” Woody’s Album ” which now weighs more than 10lbs.

    I think Evan was injecting some hilarity with his comment about Phil having a following of Redondo groupies. To be sure, Redondo was far ahead of the other stores because of the beach babes , but they were all high schoolers.
    The UCLA college girls were hopefully getting their burgers at the Westwood
    Village store after October, 1968.

    Phil A.

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

    In addition to Evan having a steak thrown at him, what was anyone’s most traumatic happening? Let’s just say I was not an athletic type…I remember the first time I hefted the milk box into the dispenser and fearing dropping it. That wasn’t so bad, but there was just something unnerving about “unfolding” the tubing, closing the “door”, then snipping off some of the excess tubing…did anyone else feel squeamish doing that? Oh the agony of it all if it happened during The Rush…did we call it The Rush? Did we use the saying “We really got slammed!”? I’m thinking there was a temp indicator on the door; nothing about content left. It just dribbled out when empty?
    Anyone ever drop a bowl of cherries/1K dressing transposing them to the Sundae/condiment Bars? Get called on the carpet for being too flirty?
    – Say, was the fly on those checkered pants a zip up…I’m thinking (metal?) button style?
    – Anyone have a “welcome to the club” prank to pull on a Newbie?
    – Did the plastic bubble that held the Pink (beet juiced) Lemondade ever get cleaned out? Wasn’t it a cumbersome task?

  • Evan Zang says:

    Hey there Bob I don’t remember seeing any printed operating procedures during my brief tenure. I recall “shadowing” my manager for a few shifts and then going out on my own. I went from back room tasks, stocking condiments, and working the dishwasher (I tried putting an entire uneaten Matterhorn through it once and no kidding it was completely gone by the end of the cycle). I graduated to the line, salads, then cash register, and finally, over to the grill. The more experienced coworkers guided me and were pretty cool about it even when I screwed up. As I recall, we all learned by doing the various jobs. As far as hookups at Woody’s, alas, I personally had none, nor do I recall seeing anyone else exceeding in that department. I’m betting that Phil had a handful of young “female burger groupies” that chased him around the restaurant, Alpine style, winner take all!

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

    Hi…Did you Guys have a written Training “Protocol”? All I remember is training was pretty casual…basically showing the “mechanics” of e.g. putting a green in a yellow ‘cup/bowl’, breaking the spine so it and the noodles or lettuce didn’t then pop out, etc. Don’t really remember any orientation to the importance of and how to interact with the customer. Were you guys just depending upon most kids…in those days…. were brought up with a certain sense of politeness along with a sense of cleanliness and we’ll ‘shape’ yaz as we go along? Were there preventative measures in terms of handling the till as I’m thinking there could be several fingers in there over the shift.
    – Were there any serious hookups…by Y’all or Others…. that stand out over your time there, e.g. ya Joe and Becky lasted 50 years? I don’t remember any stated prohibitions about “innocent” flirting “across the counters”.
    – If you had the Op to do it over again, would you have worked Woody’s or done it differently or was there an Op Y’all regret missing? I knew there was a deadline per my being there per going on somewhere for more school. Per my goal to earn/save…given my lack of skills per se to do anything else…this was a great time spent in my life to work as I must, with a great bunch of Guys and El Jefe…No Regrets.

  • Phil Ankofski (64~68) says:

    ~ Wow ! Wow ! Wow ! ~

    Well gang, I see Evan Zang has just raised the bar regarding
    the amount of factual and interesting comments packed into one very entertaining posting. Well done Evan ! ….. and thank you.

    Evan’s narrative surpasses any others posted on any of the other “Restaurants Sites ” featured by Mark.
    The Love’s BBQ patrons repeatedly yap about their beans and the customers of Ship’s lament the long gone toasters at every table.

    How can I ever comment on the Woody’s salsa or chopped peanuts again.
    Those issues seem so trivial now compared to the issue of obtaining a healthy and properly cooked hamburger. ( * No cheese for me, thanks ).
    I commend Evan for spending his time and efforts in order to present his
    extremely well written offering. Ralph Wood and Charles Cramer would be so proud. Most everything is a crap shoot these days. I wish the term was confined to Vegas, but like Evan said, that isn’t about to happen anytime soon.

    * Cheese was invented for pizza ! It distracts from the beef patty flavor.
    Bacon has no business being around either …. too distracting.

    Phil A.

  • Evan Zang says:

    Phil, Mark, Bob and All

    Although I was still pretty young, I remember having to work the grill on several occasions. There were only two things, as I recall, that put real fear into my adolescent heart: The first “fear”was having to cook for a gaggle of customers who all wanted their meat done at different temperatures (from rare all the way to well done). It took timing skills I didn’t possess. The second “fear” was the freaking hamburger steak. Not being a very experienced grill guy, I remember searing both sides first, nervously watching the flames literally “toast” it, before flipping it over to the cooler side of the grill. Invariably, the finished hamburger steak would come back for more heat (or a laughing bus boy would show me the half eaten remains of my work). As I may have mentioned in a very early post more than a year ago, one day a customer actually threw a steak at me! At the time, I wasn’t working the grill – I was on the cash register. Who knows, perhaps the steak throwing customer remembered me from a previous visit when I may have actually char-blasted his entree beyond recognition? I sure hope so. I’d hate to think he hit me with a steak simply because he didn’t like me!

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