Woody’s Smorgasburger

It was sad when they turned the last outpost of Woody’s Smorgasburger, down on Sepulveda just South of LAX, into an International House of Pancakes. Lo, how the mighty have fallen. In the sixties, there were Woody’s all over California, including a wonderful one in Westwood Village, a block or three from U.C.L.A., where I could often be found between (and once in a while, even during) classes. Woody’s was the first chain I know of where you could get a hamburger and then carry it over to a little self-service counter stocked with ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, salsa, barbecue sauce, etc., and do whatever you wanted to it. Today, there are chains aplenty like Fuddrucker’s that offer this but at the time, it was something rather special.

Woody’s burgers were pretty darn good too, with a nice barbecue flavor…and every Woody’s also had a “make your own sundae” bar: You could get an empty dish at the counter, fill it full of soft-serve vanilla ice cream, then slather it in a diverse selection of syrups and sprinkles and crushed nuts and such. My old comic club buddies and I would practically have a contest to see how much sundae we could get in one dish, building structurally-unsafe vertical arrays, then trying to walk them back to the table and devour the top stories before it all collapsed.

One of the guys once asked if he was allowed to put the toppings from the sundae bar on his burger or vice-versa. When they told him yes, he began speculating on what hot fudge or whipped cream would do to a hamburger, and whether the maraschino cherries would blend with the mustard or if he should leave the mustard off. Each visit to Woody’s, he’d say, “Next time, I’m going to try it,” but he never worked up the courage. Or wanted to spoil a good smorgasburger.

240 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Readers,

    This comment posting is #150 ! A real milestone.
    I would like to use it to thank Chris Pingel for his time and effort in
    revisiting the Gardena location for us.
    Let’s put this baby to rest.
    Phil A.

  • chris says:

    I will try to get by the location in the next couple of days. if the building is still there I’ll let you know. I believe the Woodys Gardena had a flat roof.
    Gary give me Dennis’s email address, please.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello my detective friends !

    I did not expect this Gardena unit to take up so much of our time.
    No matter, as it is much fun to address the issue while taking breaks
    from my exterior house painting and staining. ( a job well done ).

    To carry on …. Marshall did a FABULOUS job of detailing the four corners
    and the remaining possibilities. Thank you Marshall.
    Chris is affirmative that Woody’s did front on Rosecrans and was on the north side, but NOT RIGHT ON the corner of Van Ness.
    Barry also said that Woody’s was around the corner from a FOX market.
    The FOX market could well be the structure at the N/E corner which now looks to be a U Haul rental site. The structure does look to be the size of the neighborhood food markets in the 60’s.
    So, at this point I will bet my wife’s retirement that the very small flat
    roofed structure was indeed the Woody’s. I DO AGREE with Marshall that the unit looks so small, but here is another fact that may prevail;

    Ralph Wood’s partner was an older man ( MR. J. Cramer ) who was also
    part owner in the FOX food markets.
    My current suggestion ; when Mr. Cramer became aware of the availability of this restaurant site ( which shared his FOX parking lot ) , he gave a
    ” heads up ” to Ralph Wood to check out if he liked it for his unit #3.
    In this scenario, not too much upfront $$$$$ was needed.

    As I said, this is conjecture on my part. I now hope Barry will return to this
    site and give a clarification as to whether the Woody’s building is yet standing or if it was in a location that has been redeveloped.
    Help us Barry !!!!
    In the meantime ;
    Chris, please tell me you had enough chicken in Oceanside.
    Only 4 weeks left of summer gang . Enjoy !

    PS for Gary Wilcut ; Are you okay ? Miss your postings.
    Phil Ankofski

  • chris says:

    I believe it was on Rosecrans, north side, near Van Ness. Don’t know what came in right after but the last time I saw it, it was a Mexican Restaurant but that’s been some time ago.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    I’m fairly familiar with that corner, having lived in that area from ’74 until ’81. Just checked the intersection on Google Earth, to see what it looks like now. N/W corner has a fairly large open shopping center that’s been there for years – at least before I got there. It’s been recently remodeled. I kinda doubt the Woody’s was on this corner. N/E corner had a gas station, now gone. Next door to the gas station property along Rosecrans to the east is a very small restaurant. This location is a possibility, but I don’t think the Woody’s would have been in this building – too small, and looks too new (flat roof). Continuing around the intersection, the S/E corner has a very small strip mall with maybe 6-8 businesses on. Going to the east on the south side of Rosecrans is the start of some small industrial businesses. Don’t think the Woody’s was on this corner. On the S/W corner right now is a Church’s Fried Chicken – newer building. Not sure, but I think a gas station may have been on this property before. Next door to the Church’s, going west on Rosecrans is a former Denny’s restaurant, now something else. I suppose it’s possible the Woody’s was here, but the style of the building is noticeably ‘Denny’s – looking’.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Barry,
    Please more details if you can.
    Which corner ; SW, SE, NW, NE ?
    Which road did the front of the restaurant face ?

    We know the Gardena unit had a short life. Would you remember
    what company came in after Woody’s ?

    Phil A.

  • Barry says:

    The Woody’s in Gardena was at Rosecrans and Van Ness around the corner of the Fox Market. My family ate there often. Just discovered this site and the memories of the burgers was awesome. Grew up in the old Holly Park in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

  • Steve says:

    Mr. A, re: your survey…I really don’t like any franchise or restaurant burger as much as Woody’s. If I want to simulate the Woody’s experience, I just make burgers at home from scratch. I’ve never had anything that compares to the wonderful char-broiled flavor of Woody’s.

  • Larry Sturchio - Wich Stand says:

    Woody’s was great…Unlike a lot of you, I never worked there, but I sure eat a lot there….

    Tiny Naylor’s on Manchester & Sepulveda and the Wich Stand Slauson & Overhill were also great.

    Anyone have a picture Tiny Naylor’s on Manchester & Sepulveda, If so please send it to: [email protected]

    Thanks and I love this blog…

    Warm regards,

    Larry Sturchio

  • Miriam Lyon Gertsen says:

    Woody’s is part of our family’s history, starting with the original Woody’s Smorgasburger in Culver City….LOVED the peanuts on the cheeseburger. When I chose my wedding dress at Lucky Gown Shop (nice at the time) near USC, my cousin and I celebrated my euphoria by going to Woody’s and ordering two burgers each!

    When we moved to the Napa Valley we served “Woody Burgers” to my son and his friends for his 16th birthday. We still have these burgers for July 4th, etc. There is always a bowl of chopped peanuts to complete the perfect burger.

    I always fix my “Woody Burger” the same way….meat, cheese, a little mayo, a little ketchup, dill chips and lots of thousand island dressing with lots of chopped peanuts on top. I scoop up the spilled over thousand island dressing and peanuts with Lays potato chips.

    We’re now back in SoCal, and we skip around to find our favorite burger…sometimes The Counter, sometimes The Habit, and often In N Out. These burgers are always fresh and juicy, but Woody’s hasn’t been replaced as a favorite.

  • Chris says:

    With all the new burger places that have sprung up in the last few years like: 5 Guys, The Counter, and more. I can honestly tell you that they really can’t even come close to the Smorgasburger, especially the KING SWISS with freshly made tomato salsa
    I eat a lot of burgers, believe me, I know.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Readers and hello to all,

    On this wonderful web site we all have professed our love for the Woody’s Smorgasburger, King Swiss, and Matterhorns plus the chopped nuts.
    Of course they are long gone and Chris Pingel has turned his talents and attentions to chicken while Mr.Wood has been with seafood for 47 years !
    I would like to invite all of you to participate in this survey.

    I relocated back to the Midwest in late 1970 , so I am not aware of all the burger offerings in the Southern Cal. areas. ( yes, I am aware of the
    In N Out system ).
    In the absence of Woody’s please tell me your current favorite place for
    a wonderful juicy burger and the reasons why they earn your vote.

    My thanks to all. I am looking forward to your responses !
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Marshall and Chris,
    Thanks guys for the confirmation on the 10 oz. mugs.
    After 45 years most things do seem smaller, like the house you grew up in.
    I was holding the mug and thought; if I put ice cream in here for a root beer float, there sure won’t be much room for the root beer.
    Did we give the customer extra root beer on the side ? Can’t remember.

    I too have several original ” heavy plates ” which have only seen the light of day perhaps three times in 45 years. NEVER been used !

    Marshall, I have several exterior pics of Culver City with various staff
    and coworkers. I have a couple of exterior pics of El Segundo and one
    exterior of Redondo. Plus two interior of Redondo with staff.

    I am hoping we can get the photo posting up and running on this site.
    If not, I will be more than happy to make other arrangements to get photos
    to those who are interested.

    Chris,
    I would love a menu from the Risty ! Thanks for thinking of me.
    I will connect with you via email.
    Phil A.

  • Chris says:

    10 0z is correct.
    I do have a few heavy china plates with the old yodeler logo on them.
    International House of pancakes created the “Uncle Woody” logo later on a lighter weight plate. I may have some of those too but I know I have a few of the very old original plates. I sure wish I had kept more.
    Phil, I did pick up a current menu from The Risty if you’d like me to mail it to you give me your mailing address, not on this site.
    Chris

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Yeah, Phil, those mugs didn’t hold as much as you would think. It’s the thick glass. I loved the root beer and always had to go back for a refill.

    The wifey threw up the header pic of #1 Culver City store on FB this morning, asking if it was the El Segundo store (which she was more familiar with, since she grew up in Manhattan Beach). This got me to thinking if there are any other Woody’s store pics floating around out there? Sure would like to see some for old time’s sake. Westwood (of course), USC, Redondo. I’ve done google searches, and got zip.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hi Chris,

    I bought two Lyons glass mugs from Ebay and they arrived in perfect
    condition…….. but they look so small.
    They hold 10 oz. if filled to the very top.
    I am thinking Woody’s mugs were larger, perhaps 14 oz.
    Please clarify or confirm. Thanks !

    In any case, I am delighted with the purchase and may go for the china
    coffee mug in the near future.
    It amazes me to see that these Woody’s items are offered from locations
    throughout the country.
    I hope everyone is having a great summer.
    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Chris says:

    Phil,

    $6.50 sounds about right.
    Matinos Bakery for pies and brownies as long as I can remember.
    The brownies were the best. I’d heat then in the microwave and put vanilla ice cream on them, mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
    I believe we were using Alta Dena for our soft serve but I can’t remember the fat content. It has to be a certain percentage to be called ice cream, though, otherwise it’s ice milk and has to be called something else, like sundae or cone not using the term ice cream.
    Later, Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    THE $21.00 LUNCH IN CULVER CITY !! ( one person, 2013 )

    Since many of our readers are very familiar with the Woody’s location in Culver City, I am sure they are equally aware of the Studio Drive In and
    Johnnie’s Pastrami. Of course the Studio is long gone …. but not Johnnie’s !

    I just looked up their gorgeous web site to learn their current menu prices.
    Wait till you see this info my new friends.
    The Deluxe Pastrami Plate , $16.00 ( sandwich, fries, and slaw )
    beverage, 2.00
    —————–
    $ 18.00
    tip $ 3.00
    ——————
    TOTAL $ 21.00

    I know, I know ……. the Pastrami is so flavorful and melts in your mouth.
    And the French roll is heavenly , but $21.00 !!

    I am thinking a Smorgasburger , potato salad and drink would come in
    around $6.50 in todays prices . ( July, 2013 ) Cheese and bacon , extra.
    Am I in the ball park, Chris Pingel ?

    Should I come out of retirement and open a ” Philly’s Pastrami ” ?
    Have a great week everyone.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    Hi Chris and Others too,
    Thanks for beef patty percentages. What was the butterfat percent for the soft serve ice cream ?

    A new story on the beef;

    During my tenure as manager 1966 thru 1968, Mr. Wood held monthly managers meetings at his office. His objective was to help the managers feel more involved. The issue that interested me the most was new desert items like pies, brownies, fruit tarts, etc. It seemed like we could not come up with a winner.

    Back to the beef. Early on Mr. Wood had the Patman Meat Co. supply 100%
    of beef products to all of his units. All fine and dandy.
    Until …….. one or two of his managers decided that Patman’s may not be the best available. So they had some meat purveyors come to their unit
    with samples for taste tests. Someone decided that Young’s Meat Co. was superior to the Patman hamburger patties.

    Well now, the two out of five managers were really gung ho for the Young’s patties and proceeded to come to the monthly meeting trying to get more support. I could care less. I thought with all of Ralph Wood’s experience
    that it would and should be his call.

    Anyway, this put Mr. Wood between a rock and a hard place.
    I could tell he was not interested in a switch and how irritated he would get in discussing the subject.
    So after much stonewalling ( and to show his credence in valuing the managers input) Mr. Wood did turn over one or two of the units to the Young’s Co. for the hamburger patties. ( perhaps the steaks too ).

    …………..and yet another story; during this same time frame Mr. Wood hired a business psychologist ( Gunther Klauss ) to attend the monthly meetings and observe the managers and how each behaved during the discussions. Gunther was also sent around to each unit for a 2PM private one on one discussion. The unit manager was expected to be the discussion leader and talk about whatever he wanted.
    I remember NOT saying much at all. ( no points for me ! )

    Gunther also hosted weekend management workshops at his office complex just north of San Diego. About eight different guys ( all managers ), each from his own company, gathered in a large group to conduct these social skills seminars.
    Money well spent ? Don’t think so. Ken from Redondo commented about a Wood’y Christmas party.
    I would have thought Mr. Woods money could have gone further with
    a much expanded guest list for such party.

    Well gang, time to start dinner which features sweet corn from Florida and strawberries from CA.
    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    Hello Dear Readers,

    I have just been reading about the Santa Monica Civic and the plans to close it this month. It sounds like it will be closed for quite some time while
    the city fathers consider their options. None of the options will come cheap and since the Civic is city owned, the taxpayers will be on the hook.

    As with Woody’s, if the numbers are not what they need to be, then a closing or sale are the only options.

    I know many of our readers were in their late teens in 1964 when the
    Santa Monica Civic hosted the T.A.M.I. show featuring the Beach Boys,
    Jan and Dean, and of course the Rolling Stones.
    If any of our readers were blessed by the gods and had attended that show, please post your comments. As for me, I had only been in LA for a couple of months so I had few friends and just was not yet aware of all that was going on. In hind sight, I would have done ANYTHING to have attended that concert in person.

    We have covered a lot of topics regarding Woody’s; from the Alpine malts and salsa to the staff, Mr. Wood, Mr. Pingel and patrons. Well done !

    I must say, I have really enjoyed this site, and hope to see and learn much more. How about if we try to hit 200 comment postings.
    Photo postings will be awesome !
    Phil

  • Ken says:

    I always wondered what that blue thing was. I suspect it’s supposed to be the top part of one of those long horns they use to call in the cows in the Swiss Alps (saw one once).

  • Chris says:

    It was a glove.
    That is a very,very old picture.
    When Woodys opened it had a charcoal broiler. I don’t know when he converted to gas. Do any of you know?
    I started in 64 and it was gas.
    The charcoal must have been a challenge, trying to keep the heat even and hot enough but not too hot. Must have been pretty smoky.
    Mr. Wood’s beef recipe was very precise and it also was pretty lean, somewhere around 18 – 20 % I believe. I was at 18 to 20. Any higher than that you’d need to where asbestos gloves to keep all the hair from burning off your arm.
    I had a fat content machine that I could test the meat at any time and know exactly what it was. If it flamed up more than normal, I would test it and notify the purveyor.
    That’s it for now.
    Take care everyone,
    Chris

  • Phil A. says:

    Marshall,

    I am positive on the clove. Our mountaineer mascot is raising his hand to help broadcast his yodel; ” Welcome all beach babes “.

    I think this sign was replaced in early 1966 in favor of the new soaring
    rotating sign. No graphics, just words.
    Phil

  • Phil A. says:

    Hi Marshall,
    I will bet my wife’s retirement pension that the item you are questioning is a blue mitten or glove. ( matches his hat )
    What fun !

    I just bought a pair of the Lyons root beer mugs on E Bay.
    $15.00 for the pair including shipping. Not too bad.
    I guess I should not actually drink from them since I do not know where
    they have been during the last 50 years.
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Hey, all – Got a question for either Chris or Phil. Look at the Woody’s #1 pic at the top of this page. The ‘Woody’ character on the sign appears to have a blue something in his mouth. I’m guessing this is supposed to be one of those really long alpine horns. Anyone know if there was another part of the horn on that sign that went away? Or, if my assumption is wrong, please correct me!

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    Happy 4th to All !

    For Chris Pingel;
    During my tenure with Woody’s management, Mr. Wood used the
    ” sales per man hour ” figure to determine the efficiency of each unit on a weekly basis. In the time frame of 1967, 1968 a figure between $10.60 and $10.90 per man hour was considered very good and where Mr. Wood wanted to be regarding labor costs.
    Did you also use this system and if so do you continue to use it with your
    EPL units ?

    Here is a sales issue that has had me wondering for years;
    During 1966, 67 and 68, the menu prices were very stable so the following issue would pertain to customer counts or check average.

    While at #1, (64,65 ) total sales on Friday and Saturdays ALWAYS came in around $ 1,050. NEVER broke $1,100.
    While at #7 ( 1966 ) SAME THING ! Never broke $1,100.
    While at #2 ( 1967, 68 ) SAME THING ….. Friday and Saturday totals came in at $1,050, $ 1,080. …….. always just short of that elusive $1,100.

    In hind sight, I should have rung up an extra $30.00 and put my own money in the till just so I could hear Ralph Wood exclaim how Phil’s unit finally broke the barrier.

    After having said all of the above, can you explain why this happens?
    Is there a dynamics in the neighborhood or what ?

    Do you experience the same or similar issue with your EPL units ?

    In my Woody’s model above, the average check was .85 cents without the sundae desert. So, how come we could never get an extra 30 people
    to walk in on a Saturday from 11AM till 11 PM ?
    It is all beyond me.
    Look forward to your comments.
    Phil

  • Chris says:

    Phil,

    I have not gotten around to it yet, sorry. I’ll work on it soon.
    Thanks for reminding me.
    Have a nice 4th of July, Phil and everyone.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good Morgan, ( as in Robert W. ~ 93 KHJ Boss Angeles )

    All owners of the Ford Skyliners were scared to death that they would be rear ended while the top was in the trunk. Ouch !

    The loss of the Sandy Koufax card, Ouch !

    Chris, have you tried posting photos via the advice given by management ?
    Please give us an update on this issue. Thanks.
    If your attempts are successful, you can then walk me thru the procedure.
    Phil

  • Ken says:

    Re Phil’s comments of the Watts riots in 1964: We had a part-time lineman who also worked as a process server in SW L.A. Just before the riots started, he showed up at work quite upset. Seems he had gotten into a ruckus earlier that day while serving a subpoena to a guy in Watts. He couldn’t understand why the guy got very angry when our guy called him “boy.” The man got some friends and chased him out of the neighborhood. Later on, we accused him (jokingly) of having started the riots.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Phil – While I wish it were the Ford Skyliner like yours that I also owned, it was actually a ’64 Pontiac Catalina Ventura 2-door hardtop (turquoise) that I also owned. My second vehicle, I bought it around January 1970 and sold it later to buy the Corvair that I mentioned previously.

  • Chris says:

    Phil, I believe Gary Wilcut had a Ford Skyliner as well. It was very cool watching the hard top retract into the trunk. Beautiful car!!!
    Chris

  • Ken says:

    I hate to be a one-upper, but my Mom threw out my baseball cards, which included a Sandy Koufax rookie card. lol

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Chris,
    I just checked Ebay and they have several Richardson Barrels available.
    The first listing is a nice one for $2,400. Whhhhhoa !
    The site also has listings for the Lyons mugs. I may just remind my wife that my birthday is coming up and buy two.

    This may help you feel better about giving up the barrels. Perhaps not.
    In 1966 I feel in love with a 1964 all black Pontiac Catalina Ventura.
    I bought it even though I still had my 1957 FORD SKYLINER.
    This model had the all steel convertible top which divided into two sections and then swung into the trunk with a touch of a button.
    After a month, my landlady said she was tired of having my extra old car parked in front of the house. ( I was renting a room )
    She told me that her friend’s husband would be interested in buying it.
    Since I could not trust the engine and tranny for longer drives, I sold it.
    ( worth many, many thousands today )

    Chris, if I was to tell you what I took for that car, YOU would cry for me.
    You would cry for a week. Your eyes would be so red from tears that
    your office staff would think you took up drugs.

    I know the majority of the readers here can share our remorse because of
    their own losses long ago. At least I still have my Dinky Toys from 1954.
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hi Chris,
    I LOVE your information and quips.
    On a trip to LA in 1991 I last saw Bob Anderson and your son at El Segundo.
    Bob showed me some of the newer upgrades; Beer, bacon and I am thinking you had a chicken sandwich offering as well. Plus you had installed a satellite dish for the customers. I like your description of the beverage upgrades in El Segundo. I was so sure that you had saved a root beer barrel. Sorry to learn you did not. Perhaps you can find one EBay.
    In the later years, I understand you tried some breakfast offerings as well.

    All this goes to show how interested you were in staying on top of your game. Well done Chris !
    Funny, I did not remember #1 being uncomfortable in the summer.

    I do remember Monday HS nights being VERY uncomfortable !
    Phil

  • Chris says:

    We had swamp coolers for make up air and windows and doors that would open for fresh air. Both number 1 and number 7 were not too far from the beach and had a breeze most of the time, still summers were a little tough.
    #1 Culver City had sky lights across the top of the building for light but no ventilation. In 1972,after the split, in Culver City we covered the skylights and installed vents to let the hot air escape. That made it a little better.
    Remember we had open beam ceilings so all the heat would be stuck in the upper part of the building.
    I did install AC in El Segundo a few years after I took over. El Segundo had a heating system and a fireplace for heating.
    Culver City had the fireplace, I can’t remember if we had heating.
    You had asked awhile ago about the root beer barrels, unfortunately I didn’t keep them. Now I could kill myself for just letting them go.
    When diet sodas came out, as well as a lot of other soda flavors we needed to upgrade and had to replace the root beer barrels with new upgraded drink dispensers that could hold a larger variety.
    We took out Postum and Sanka after they came out with regular decaf coffee.
    In El Segundo we did put a beverage bar in the 80’s. That actually worked out very well and customers loved it as well, besides the fact it took the pressure off the busy line.
    With all the new rules and regulations in California I think Woodys would have to make a lot of changes. Things out here in California are very different than they were in those good old days. I’d go back to those days in a minute. It was so much simpler.
    Anyway, hope you liked the information.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good Morgan Marshall,

    I see your temps in Springfield will be in the mid 90’s today so I hope
    you will not have a high humidity factor as well. ( as in Ohio )
    Now that the San Diego nuclear plant is permanently off line I fear for all the people there regarding power outages.
    Good to see your name again !

    For Chris Pingel,
    I just realized that I have no idea what type of heating and cooling the Woody’s units had. I cannot remember ever setting a thermostat , or calling repair guys for service. I do remember #1 and #7 having large screen panels in the dining rooms, but was that it ?
    Perhaps the broiler was enough to keep the units warm in the winter months. I need help on this one Chris.
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Hey – I’m still around. Just forgot to check in on the site for a few days.

    William / Willie – now there’s a name that brought back some memories. He worked some shifts in Westwood on occasion. Kind of quiet with a stoic demeanor, but he warmed up once you got to know him. I remember giving him a lift home to south L.A. once in my Corvair. This was after midnight and he was going to take the bus home. Not gonna happen.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Ken,
    Wow , what an awesome story ! I am thinking you must be a pretty big guy to stand up and go against a blade. Brave to be sure.
    Yes, I do remember the safe ….. but the combination would be a stretch.

    My story of the Watt’s riots and Culver City #1 ;
    I hired in during the summer of 1964. So, in the summer of 1965 I was working full time on random shifts.
    August 11, 1965 , I worked the Noon till 8 Pm shift. Afterwards, I made myself a meal , ate in the dining room, and then went out back to the
    free standing uniform changing room. ( 8′ X 6′ )

    Well ………….. our fellow coworker ( Jerry W. ) who had not worked that day , came running into the change room all excited about a riot in Watt’s
    and how it was expected to expand to the suburbs.
    ( Jerry’s dad was a detective with Culver City and had the inside scoop.)

    So ……. Jerry takes me to the back of his station wagon and shows me a rifle and several handguns. Mind you, I just turned 20 and Jerry was a year younger. Somewhere Jerry got the idea that the firehouse directly behind Woody’s needed protection because the cops would be too busy elsewhere.

    Now, it was already dark so Jerry repositioned his station wagon so the front end faced the banks wall and the rear end faced the firehouse.
    Next , with the tailgate down he had us lay down on our stomachs and began giving instructions on the handguns. ( to a guy who never even saw a gun up close, let alone hold one ! )

    At this point I do not recall any interaction or communication with our coworkers inside Woody’s who were still conducting business as usual.
    It was just Jerry and me and perhaps a sniper on the firehouse rooftop.
    ( so claimed Jerry )
    I loved KHJ, but I am sure we layed there in silence.

    As it was now getting later, the Woody’s crew was wrapping up their closing procedures and turning off the sign and lights.
    The three closers and Ast. manager came out the back door and locked up.
    All were talking about the riots so I suggested we vacate our post and join them. Jerry cautioned me to say nothing of the guns.

    I had been scared ……. for about two hours.
    If this situation was so dire, why was I putting my own safety on the line
    without any knowledge or training ? Would the CHP, the LA county sheriff,
    and the Culver City police department be so overwhelmed ?
    Would the rioters swarm over us like locusts in a wheat field ?

    If Jerry W. ever reads this ; Yes, Jerry you scared the hell out of me !
    Phil Ankofski

  • Ken says:

    Okay, then, Phil (Mr. A.): another anecdote. Woody’s #2 was close to a lot of bars, and people would often come stumbling in around 11 (we closed at 11:30), especially on weekends. Also, on Friday nights it was a tradition for Redondo High students to go to Woody’s after a home football game. So the place could suddenly get really PACKED! One night a customer was threatening one of the employees with a switchblade knife. I slugged the guy and took the knife away from him, then dropped the knife into the floor safe (remember the safe?). Along comes JR the next day, who looks into the safe, sees the knife, looks at me, and I reply, “We had a little trouble last night.” From that day on he stopped looking at me as if thinking, “Who are you, again?” lol

    Cross my heart this is a true story.

    P.S. loved your story about Willy and Tina Turner. :D

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    For Ken and all others too ,
    Rich Ingram did become manager of Redondo and resigned in the spring of 1967. He intended on relocating to Las Vegas and become a cop !
    I do not know if this came to pass.
    I followed Rich as manager at Redondo from spring 1967 to 10/1968.
    Rudy Bennet went on to manage El Segundo around 1964/1965.

    A fun story about Willie ; Willie lived in or near Compton and on one particular weekend , Ike and Tina Turner were appearing at a very small club in his hood. Willie invited me to attend the show with him so he drove the two of us over for the late show around 10 PM.
    Holy crap ……. I was the only white dude in the place! At the time it was of no concern to me and Willie seemed to enjoy the attention from his friends because he brought in a white dude.
    The show featured the Ikette dancers along with Ike and Tina, but it was a lip sync venue ……….. which was okay by me as I am a big fan of Tina.

    Someone on the Utube site made this comment; ” Tina is the only person who can scream and sing at the same time. ” Amen to that statement.

    I must have been out of the loop regarding a Ralph Wood sponsored Christmas party. Of course we had holiday parties with coworkers, but they were always off site at someone’s apartment.

    Ken, I can see you have a great memory with names, times and places.
    Please continue to post additional comments .
    Phil

  • Ken says:

    I remember Willie but especially Rich Ingram, who was the day assistant manager while I closed nights. I think he went on to manage after I left Woody’s for the Air Force. Some other names of managers at #2 during that time include Galen Neff, Fred Wilbur, John Bray, and Rudy [something]. The latter had a bad leg and somewhat of a Germanic attitude. lol Speaking of Willie, I recall that there was a policy at that time of not letting “people of color” work out front on the line, which was generally typical of the South Bay Area in those days. I think it was Steve Dabbs who rebelled against this policy and persuaded one of the black busboys to put on the suspenders and funny hat and work the salad bar for a short time. I also recall that Woody always threw a great Christmas party for his employees, with a generous bonus.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Fun to learn the Pingel family was tied into the Admiral Risty as well.

    More on Woody’s Redondo ; This location was the absolute best for working the cash register. The back of the condiment bar ran parallel with the serving line and was made from a shiny black material which reflected as good as a mirror.
    So ……. Redondo had all these beach babes coming through the line that were unaware that their back sides were being featured so clearly.
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!
    Phil A.

  • chris pingel says:

    I gave Wayne the information about the site last Saturday. I too hope he fills everyone in on Mr. Wood’s condition.
    Wayne runs a great restaurant! Everything is always perfect.
    My oldest son worked for Wayne for awhile during school and so did my daughter. She was a hostess. It was always fun going in when she worked there.
    Back to Woodys. I remember before we had the ice cream machine and had to hand scoop the ice cream into the yellow boats. I remember one Sunday night, it was so busy and I was working the register and had to scoop the ice cream too. That was a real pain, especially when we ran out. I’d have to go out to the block house and get another carton of ice cream, frozen hard. I’d put it in the large microwave to soften it up otherwise it would have been impossible to scoop. It was still fun, though, because I loved working with people.
    Two regular customers at #1 were Don Knots and Rod Serling (Twilight Zone). You know the studios were very close by and they would come in frequently.
    Got to go,
    More later,
    Chris

  • John Hindsill says:

    This is probably the most interesting thread owing to the number of alumni from Woody’s posting here. In the late sixties I lived in the Palms area, and occasionally ate at the store on Sepulveda Blvd (nr. Jefferson, I think). But I worked in El Segundo at Imperial and Sepulveda. Our section manger loved Woody’s a couple of miles down the road, and when he treated, Woodys was the place. He used to really pile on the condiments even those more suited to the ice cream. That was a really big store , as I recall, for a place that specialized in burgers.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    What happened to our new friends Gary Wilcut and Marshall Loveday ?
    Miss you guys !
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Ken,
    Thanks for your insight into Redondo #2. Please return and share some additional comments and stories. What fun !
    You may have worked with these two guys as well: Richard Ingram
    and William ( Willie ) the opening man and bus boy at #2 for many years.
    Redondo did not have a lock on the chicks. Girls in Culver City used to submit multiple ” birthday club ” cards with more info than was called for.
    They would simply fill the card out and hand it back to the guy they were interested in. I am sure Chris Pingel was getting the lions share.
    Phil A.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hi Chris,
    Small world. I lived across from the Latitude 20 on the other side of the Coast Highway in the small berg of Walteria. On Neece Ave.! ( 1967 ‘ 68 )
    My favorite entertainment was Ernie Menahune with his all of his hip swinging dancers. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!

    It would really be cool ( bitchin ? ) if Wayne could show Ralph Wood this
    web site with all of the wonderful comments. It would convey to Mr. Wood how much we all appreciated him. I do hope Wayne will find time to join us.
    Phil A.

  • Ken says:

    I found this site during a moment of nostalgia. I worked at Woody’s #2 (Redondo) from September, 1962 to December, 1965. Started out as a part-time lineman, then later worked full-time as a supervisor, then assistant manager. I worked many shifts on the line with Steve Dabbs and Ron Nestlerode, both of whom went on to manage other Woody’s. Because of its location (several blocks from the beach) and the fact that Woody preferred to hire guys in their late teens and early 20’s, the place was somewhat of a “chick magnet,” and some of us (me included) eventually married girls (women) who came to eat there. BTW: JR is John Rudberg, who was Woody’s second in command at the time, and often circulated around the various stores to put out “brush fires.” Many, many memories about Woody’s, and it was years before I stopped having dreams about working the grill on hamburger steak night. lol

  • Chris says:

    Almost 49 years. That’s amazing. AUGUST 1964 is when I started at CC #1.
    I was 18. I sure miss the old days. Things were so much simpler then.
    I always loved my job there.
    I’ll talk to Wayne and maybe he can tell you how Mr. Wood is doing. He sees him quite often. He should tell you about him. He is ok, I know, but Wayne can really bring you up to date.
    I’ll call Wayne tomorrow and give him the web site.
    Later,
    Chris

  • Chris says:

    Hi Phil,
    I remember Latitude 20. We used to live around the corner many years ago.
    We always enjoyed going there. Hop would always be there to introduce the entertainment. He always looked like he was having so much fun and your were treated like a guest in his home.
    The food also was great.
    He sold the restaurant to some friends of mine who in turn turned it into a country western restaurant and bar with line dancing. That was the big thing at the time.
    The building has long sense been torn down.
    I hope everyone is doing well. back soon,
    Chris

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