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

  • Chris says:

    Bill,
    I forgot to mention the name of the other restaurant in Westchester.
    It was called Biff’s.
    Chris

  • Chris says:

    Bill,

    The Tiny Naylor’s, in Westchester, on the corner of Manchester and Sepulveda was torn down and replaced with a medical building, I believe, in the late 70’s early 80’s.
    Loved that place FYI Biff Naylor had another coffee shop in Westchester, not a drive up, on the other end, a block south of Will Rogers St. That was torn down as well. There is an In and Out on that corner and an airport parking behind that.
    Thrifty’s in Westchester did have a lunch counter. As a kid my friends and I would sit there order a soda and when the waitress wasn’t looking we would stick our gum on the end of the straw paper and blow it to the very high ceiling and hopefully it would stick there. Most of the time it did, so the ceiling looked gross.
    Thrifty was redone many, many years ago and I can’t remember what was there but it has changed a number of times since the old days.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Readers,

    Our 200th comment is just a day or two away ! Who will it be ?

    Welcome Vinnie ! Please return often and share some of those memories.
    You can tell all of us what kind of boss Chris was.
    Was your bride Elena a coworker or customer ?
    I am thrilled to learn of all the long lasting marriages of Woody’s people.
    Ralph Wood was married for 67 years ! I myself am at a blessed # 37.

    Gerry,
    In 1962 , Ralph Wood and partner agreed to a Master Franchise agreement with IHOP. This agreement gave IHOP exclusive rights to expand the
    small chain. For this, Mr. Wood received some form of payment or stock.
    In exchange, Mr.Wood could NOT open any units on his own for 5 years.

    IHOP had been doing this same format with many, many other local chains. The most notable were Love’s Bar B Q and the Copper Penny.

    The units built under the Woody’s IHOP banner were all A Frame
    structures with soaring roof lines. All these units had a very short life.
    Two to three years at the most. I do NOT know why.
    I suspect the margins were too slim for the franchise owners who bought into the IHOP system. Once the Woody’s unit was closed, the first option was to convert to a IHOP pancake house. If IHOP passed on this option the lease could go out to a ski shop or car dealer …. or whatever.

    When the five year agreement terminated, Mr., Wood and partners then
    proceeded to open their own units in Woodland Hills ( 10/ 1967)
    followed by Westwood Village in 10/ 1968.

    Marshall,
    While you were cruising on your bike, I was having my US Army physical
    in downtown Los Angeles. ( age 20 )
    As I walked out the door, a sergeant checked me off and said ” 4 F ”
    I had a significant hearing loss and flat feet.

    A big thanks to all the Readers , Commenters , and Mark Evanier for
    establishing this site. THANK YOU ! Perhaps we will see # 250 .
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    TERRY K…………………

    In August, 1965 I was a 13-yr old kid cruising around West L.A. on my bicycle. Quite often in the summer I would make the approximate 10 mile trek to LA International Airport to do some plane watching. Maybe I was there the day you took off. Happy Anniversary. I’m quickly approaching a 40th myself.

  • Vincent Chiesa says:

    Chris: I too have been intrigued by finding this site, therefore, I had to chime in and add my comments. I worked at Woody’s both in El Segundo and Culver City from Nov 1976 until about May 1985. Hopefully you remember me Chris. I answered an ad in the paper, went to your store #7 and you hired me. As it turned out, I met my wife Elena in the Culver City store (manager there was Pat C., and yes, he always had a great smile) and got married in 1982. Still happily married; and once again what a great experience (from another employee in the 70’s & 80’s circa) and time I had working there for nearly 9 years. I have a lot of fond memories there as well. Vincent (aka Vinnie).

  • Bill James says:

    A couple of restaurants missing from the “Golden Old Days” of Los Angeles are as follows:
    Tiny Naylors
    Mister Angelo’s
    Thrifty’s Drug Store Coffee Shops area
    Delores

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Readers,

    As we approach our 200th posted comment, I thought I might entertain you with two short narratives. They both pertain to my tenure as manager at the Woody’s El Segundo and Redondo Beach.

    ” The Napping Manager ”
    While at El Segundo, we would wrap up the lunch rush about 1 PM.
    I would then clear out the cash register and deposit the $$$ in the safe.
    Next was my lunch time, after which I returned to the line as others took their lunch breaks.
    After breaks were over, I made out the meat and produce orders.
    It was now around 2:30 and I had nothing else to do .

    So, I went to the back office desk and put my head down in my crossed arms. I could nap till 3:30 0r 4 o’clock.
    Well, this time frame happen to coincide with the time our general manager most often made his visits to this unit.

    The kicker; The GM would stay out front for a half hour and NEVER had me awakened ! In fact he had the crew promise him that no one would tell me of his visits. This went on for EIGHT MONTHS !
    I found all this out 25 years later when I visited this same unit in 1991.
    Bob A. was my assistant manager in 1966 and was the guy on duty out front while I was napping. Bob was yet working at this same unit in 1991, and so while having lunch together, he spilled the beans.
    Bottom line; I rarely saw the GM. He gave me my weekly “numbers ” on the phone. )

    ” The Sleeping In Manager ”
    My next stop as manager was Redondo Beach.
    This location was just down the hill from the GM’s home in Palos Verdes.
    So, of course it made sense for him to make this unit his first visit of the day, probably around 9 AM or 9:30. I say probably because I NEVER saw him at this #2 unit at this time of day.
    I lived in Walteria which is but a 5 minute drive to the unit. I was most fortunate in having opening guys who were very dependable.

    So, I took advantage of my good fortune and did not roll into work
    till 10 AM or 10:15. ( opening was 11 …. )
    Get this; again the GM would stay for a half hour and visit with Willie
    and then had him and Randy promise not to tell me.
    At some point, I did find out but did not adjust my arrival time since
    I felt the 9 1/2 hour day was more than fair.
    I was never asked to start my day earlier by anyone.

    I saw the GM occasionally at dinner rush hour because he could make this stop again on his way home. But at 5:30 we could not sit down in the dinning room so we would talk just a bit as I worked the cash register and he stood next to the coffee urns.
    Bottom line; I rarely saw the GM at #2 .
    I was not a napper at #2. I have no recollection of any projects which would have kept me busy in the mid afternoon , but I did not nap.

    I suppose I felt that I was a very ” low maintenance ” manager.
    I never heard from other managers that they were having any problems which warranted on site assistance from the GM.

    In the mid to late 1960’s, Mr. Wood did have the GM stationed at the #4
    unit by USC to help out at lunch. Not only was the serving line very busy,
    but I think the dining room needed some extra supervision with the USC students.

    Tom Hanks might have said ” there’s no napping in food service. ”

    I hope these stories gave you a little smirk or smile and get you all off to a super nice week ……. whatever you may be doing.

    Phil

  • Gerry says:

    I lived in El Segundo and was a Woody’s customer for years. A lot interesting stuff posted here. Thanks All.

    One question…. What does IHOP have to do with Woody’s other than the fact the El Segundo store was converted to one?

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Chris, Marshall and all Readers,

    I don’t know about you Marshall, but I will be sleeping a lot better after learning from Chris P. the precise location of the CC Big Boy.
    ” Right in front of the post office at Sepulveda and Jefferson.” ( COCO’s)

    I want to thank Chris again in this public forum for following thru on this location I.D. project. On behalf of all of us Chris, Thank you !

    Many readers are wondering what the hell the big deal is over this location,
    but for someone like me who has been out of the loop for 43 years it
    helps clarify the business environment in Culver City during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Having a new Bob’s Big Boy open up within walking distance of your Woody’s ….. well, I can imagine how I would feel.
    I know I would be chugging a lot of Pepto Bismol.

    The only thing worse I guess, would be facing the grand opening of
    a brand new gigantic McDonalds right across the street !
    Like Woody’s #4 at Figueroa and 28th street , Los Angeles.
    I do NOT know the year this happened.
    Mr. Wood’s stomach must have been tied up in knots for months.
    ……………..and so it goes.

    My fingers are tired, as I have been talking Chris’s head off all day.
    May God bless us all.
    Phil

  • Chris says:

    Thanks, Terry for your comments and Congratulations on 48 years.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    I have just added the Woody’s china coffee cup to my collection.
    It had been listed on EBay for quite some time @ 15.00 plus shipping.
    Some family talk started about Christmas and I thought about how nice the cup would look with my oval china platters and two Lyons root beer mugs.
    I wonder whose lips sipped on the Maxwell House coffee in this cup.
    After the cup arrives, Mary Ann can take and put it in her closet until
    Christmas gift giving time. What fun !

    Chris, I am looking forward to the pics. PLEASE, PLEASE include photos of you with your family members.

    Posted comment #200 is just days away !
    Phil Ankofski

  • chris says:

    On my September 3rd comment I made a slight error.
    I said the Bob’s was almost directly across from #1 Culver City. What I meant to write was: almost directly across from Woody’s office.
    I’ll be passing it today and will take a picture of the location.
    It’s right on the fork in the road in front of the post office. Jefferson and Sepulveda. It was a Cocos for a long time. It may still be I just haven’t paid much attention. I’ll find out today and let you all know.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Chris,
    If I ever come across ” the ” hat, I will get it for you.
    You really should have the hat.
    Phil

  • chris says:

    I have 1 pair of suspenders.
    I’ll take a picture and send to Phil.
    Sorry, though, they aren’t for sale.
    I wish I had the hat.

  • Terry K. says:

    My wife and I ate lunch at the Woody’s South of LAX on August 7,1965 on our honeymoon. We were married in Redondo Beach on Friday night stayed at the pen and quail hotel first night then on way to LAX for my first airplane flight to San Diego we enjoyed Woody’s. We just had are 48th year of marriage.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Yes Marshall, the suspenders would be a treasure indeed. However, I myself would cherish a used Woody’s toaster. Those babies sure took a beating and I never saw a single one go in for repair service.
    I have been thru so many ” at home ” toasters that I have lost count.
    They are all pieces of —- ! In recent years I have checked the commercial toasters and they START at $ 450.00. for a two slicer.

    If any Reader can recommend a brand, please advise.
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    I think if I found a pair of the old Woody’s suspenders on E-Bay, I’d give them to my younger daughter to wear. She’s always up for trying something different.

  • Chris says:

    Phil & Marshall,

    I’ll get by in a day or two and take a picture of where the Bob’s was.
    It was almost directly across the street from #1, though.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Readers,
    And yet another tid bit regarding the Woody’s unit in Gardena;
    While browsing the many Woody’s sites, I found an interesting ad display in the Torrance Herald dated SEPTEMBER, 1963.
    The ad features a coloring contest entry blank and a list of the 3 participating Woody’s locations. Each location provided a brand new bike as the grand prize.

    What is important in this narrative, is the Date and the three locations that were being promoted : Gardena , Redondo Beach and El Segundo.
    El Segundo was the newest unit , having been open for 7 months. (2/1963)
    This ad date also shows that the Gardena unit was still in operation and being promoted under the Woody’s Smorgasburger banner in Sept, 1963.
    However, the Gardena unit ( #3 ) was nearing the end of it’s life ( and lease)
    as a Woody’s. I am currently thinking this unit was closed in early 1964.
    I say this because I hired in at the Culver City unit in July of 1964 and there
    was still plenty of buzz about the Gardena closing.

    A short time ago, I told Chris that I intended to ” step aside ” for a bit and
    decrease the amount of my comments. Not because of a lack of interest, but just to give others ” more room “.
    Anyway, I seem to be here more than ever. An addict perhaps ?

    For Chris; I was window shopping on Ebay the other night and was inspired to punch in ” El Pollo Loco ” and what do you know ?
    A couple of vendors are listing the EPL uniform patches for a few bucks and so I thought , what the hell , and bought one !
    When it arrives , I will ask Mary Ann to sew it on one of my favorite sport shirts ………. so I can feel like one of your team members. ” Bitchin “.
    Have a great week everyone !
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Good morning Readers,
    Chris just noted that our 200th comment is now well within reach.
    We should bestow special honors to whoever posts #200 !

    I never gave the music system much thought except at Christmas time.
    I loved when the Phil Spector Christmas album was played. I turned the volume up quite a bit and the customers seemed to love it as well.

    Chris, thanks for the story on the CC music box. Helen must have been astonished to learn of it’s return too.
    Chris ….. Marshall and I are still wanting to learn the Big Boy location in Culver City and the approximate year it opened.
    Thanks for the updates.
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Wow, Chris – you remember more about Woody’s Westwood than I do…….

    And no, Phil, I’m not a professional writer. Thought at times about doing a blog though. Not too much time right now. Just started a new full-time job a few weeks ago. Not connected to restaurants or vehicles.

  • chris pingel says:

    Hi Phil and everyone,
    Woody’s #7 opened in February 1963.
    Phil,
    When you mentioned Muzak, it reminded me of something.
    When I was the manager of number #1 Culver City (forgot what year now) we had a 3M music system. It was a tape player. It played music from a large cartridge. It was a loop system so it would play over and over during the day, probably 4 or 5 times. It seemed like when I would come in in the morning it would always be on the same song. I kind of liked it for awhile but got tired of it pretty fast.
    Anyway, one night we got broken into and one of the things they took was the 3M machine along with a number of other things.
    Needless to say I was not too upset about that.
    What really got me was that after a month or so the machine was recovered by the police somewhere in northern California , nothing else, just the machine.
    I couldn’t believe it. You rarely ever get anything back but this time we did.
    I thought I was thru with that music for good.
    The only saving grace was it was close to Christmas and we got a Christmas tape so I did get a little break.
    Also, On Westwood, I believe it was a limited partnership with multiple partners. I think they all had to agree to sell so Steve could take over.
    I believe Mr. C. helped take care of that.
    I also believe Steve put in Beer, and a new product called Gatorade along with games.
    Steve was always great at coming up with stuff.
    I liked him a lot and was good friends with him.
    Hope these tid bits help.
    Talk to you all soon.
    Chris

    P.S. almost 200…..

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Marshall,
    Thank you for your swift reply. Yes, the ” Woody’s Westwood ” would have
    confirmed the legal separation. Your description of Steve with his location challenges is informative as well. Are you a professional writer ?
    Hope you have a state or county fair to patronize this Labor Day weekend.
    Entering the ” wife calling ” contest is always fun !
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Phil…….
    From what I remember, initially the Westwood unit was known as a full-fledged ‘Woody’s Smoorgasburger’. It may have been incorporated differently though. I believe our paychecks came through the normal corporate account. Later on, when Steve took over, the incorporation at least became known as ‘Woody’s Westwood, Inc.’. Lots of things started to change at that point as well – uniforms, menu offerings, the decor, etc. Steve was trying his best to keep it relevant to the Westwood crowd. We had area business people during weekday lunch, as well as students. Quite a high school hooligan problem on weekend nights. Sundays were fairly quiet.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    A question for Marshall Loveday,
    This one may really test your memory.
    When Steve D. took over the store in Westwood, was he required to
    modify the name of his operation ( like Woody’s Broiler ) or was he
    allowed to operate with ” Woody’s Smorgasburger. ” ?

    It is not important, but I am just trying to get a handle on when names are required to be changed from the legal point of view. Good luck !
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Good morning Chris,
    I was updating my ” Woody’s File ” and I have come across a notation that
    the #7 unit was opened in October of 1963. Can you confirm ?

    I have Redondo listed as built in 1958 and #4 on Fig. opened in May, 1959. Our beloved Gardena unit was dated somewhere in between at #3.
    Hope all is well in Oceanside.
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Readers,
    This short narrative will inform you of the newest restaurant venue which is built on the site of the former Woody’s #2 in Redondo Beach.
    It is called ” Rock and Brews “. I am amazed how fast the original structure
    was bulldozed and how quickly the new venue was up and running.

    The new unit already has multiple web sites which you should check out yourselves. Many are ” review ” sites which seem to rate the food very poorly and drinks are rated as expensive.
    I myself am not a fan of sports bars with all the TVs, so I would not be a patron even if the food was free. Plus, the business wants to be known as pet friendly and thus invites patrons to bring all their dogs onto the patio.

    When I worked at this Woody’s site in 1967/1968 , the only ” rock ” being played was on my radio ( KHJ ) prior to the 11 AM opening.
    ~ The Stones and Tina Turner ! ~
    After 11 it was Muzack .

    Anyway, I suppose we should wish them well, but I am not feeling the vibes of success. ” You never know, even when you think you know.” Let it Ride.
    Phil A.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hi Marshall and all Readers too !
    I have not checked the weather in Springfield lately , but I hope you are having a nice summer. It has been hot and very humid here , although we had a two week respite which I used for house painting and deck refinishing. Everything turned out really nice.

    A thought on Woody’s dining rooms ( the three on Sepulveda anyway )
    Besides the fireplaces, the dining rooms did have some darker secluded corners which were out of the line of sight of the cash register.
    Very nice spots to entertain a girlfriend. I cannot think of a current
    burger venue which could say the same. They all have the dining rooms lit up like it was 3 in the afternoon.

    I too did a map search looking for a possible Big Boy site. With all the super expansive development there, it could well have been bulldozed to make way for all the retail shops. Anyway, I asked Chris to put his two cents in regarding the precise local.
    Speaking of Chris, he sure came away with a gorgeous El Pollo Loco unit
    to replace Woody’s # 1. The design, colors and landscaping on the EPL
    unit has sooooooo much curb appeal. I love it.

    Yes, I did look up the 5 Guys menu. All I can say is that they are a big success appealing to the market segment they are after. 1,000 stores !
    Anyway, we have several in our area and I have yet to get the guts to go in.
    I think I would rather gamble my $ 11.17 at a penny slot machine in our new casino.

    Back to Woody’s ; the laundry expense for all the Tyrolean uniform pieces plus the hats must have been a huge operating expense.
    For Chris, When did you finally phase out the uniforms?

    Too bad about you passing on the Gardena unit. It looks so forlorn.
    It needs some smoke and grease rising to the heavens.
    What fun !
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Forgot to add……
    The Bob’s Big Boy location…..
    Going waaaay back in my memory, I seem to recall it possibly being on Sepulveda, near Culver Bl. perhaps? I don’t think it was around after the late 60’s. I did a ‘tour’ north on Sepulveda, using Google Earth, but didn’t find any buildings that stand out as being a former Big Boy…… Lots of changes in that area.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Yup, Phil. That’s what I would do for a Woody’s in today’s market. Probably wouldn’t make much money though. Sorry, not interested in the Gardena location. Absolutely no spare income or savings for an investment.

    And, I’m up in Oregon, permanently, since August, 2009. Haven’t made a SoCal trip since last November though, so I’m due……

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hi Marshall,
    Is that $11.17 in Oregon, or are you back in LA ?
    Anyway, that is a lot of money !
    I hear you loud and clear regarding ambiance and friendly employees, but it is hard for me to visualize getting investors to throw in with you on plans for yet another burger place without the ” drive thru. ”
    As far as having the grill which customers can watch, yes I guess that could still work, but I remember plenty of moments when I had wished it was not exposed. ( like the grill man sneezing over 26 patties , 4 k bobs , 2 hot dogs
    and 2 Halibut steaks. )

    What do you think of the results from the Gardena validation ?
    That was a fun research project.
    Keep in mind Marshall that this location is now vacant and available.
    You could probably get in for a song.
    I do think your neighborhood clientele there in Gardena would require a menu featuring meals costing less that $ 11.17.

    It’s always fun with you Marshall.
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Chris,
    I am most interested in learning from you the precise location of the
    Big Boy unit which was down the street from your # 1.
    Which business is now in its location? I want to use the maps sites to scope it out. Also what year did it open ?
    Thanks Chris,
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Phil, I’m afraid your estimate of a current-valued meal at a modern-day Woody’s is somewhat low. My guess is that it would be closer to $9.00, maybe more. I went to a ‘5 Guys’ for the first time a few weeks ago. Bought a double cheeseburger, fries and drink. My total came to $11.17!

    If I was doing a Woody’s today, I would NOT do a drive-thru. Part of the Woody’s experience is to fix the burger yourself, your own way. I’d try to focus on the ambiance – the way the Culver City, El Segundo and Redondo Beach stores were in the beginning – fireplace, interesting decor, benches, a grill that customers can watch, FRIENDLY employees. Mr. Wood’s ideas are still relevant today.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Dear Readers,
    How can you guys afford to live and eat out there ?
    A Woody’s meal @ $ 7.99 would be quite reasonable ….. I guess.
    I looked up the menu prices at the one and only Cantor’s Deli.
    Corned beef sandwich 12.50 ( with slaw or potato salad )
    add cheese .75
    beverage 2.00
    Matzo ball soup 6.75
    ~ TOTAL ~ $ 22.00 plus tax and tip !

    And the real estate …… my aunt bought her 1000 sq. ft. bungalow in Westchester in 1952 for $5,000. Her estate sold the house a few years back for $520,000.00. Zillow has it valued today at $ 580,000.00

    Chris thought it would take at least 1.5 million to get a Woody’s unit up and running today.
    Question ; with the ” drive thru window” being a mandatory feature these days , how would the do it yourself condiment bar work ?
    Phil A.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Readers,
    Here is another issue regarding change ; prices

    In 1966, a Smorg @.49, cheese @.05, salad @ .25 , and a drink @.10 cents totaled .89 cents.

    25 years later ;

    I found a receipt from my 1991 vacation visit to El Segundo.
    It lists a double smorg @ 2.39 ( could be code for the King size )
    Swiss cheese @ .25
    Potato salad @ .89
    M drink @ .89
    Tax @ .31
    Total $ 4.73

    My guess this meal would now cost $ 7.99 in mid 2013. Plus tax !
    Still far cheaper than a $21.00 lunch at Johnnie’s Pastrami in Culver City.
    I’ll have to look up the current price for a corned beef sandwich platter at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax. ( $$$$$$$ , I bet )
    Enjoy your coming week,
    Phil A.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Okay, I am back.
    I am glad we have been able to put the Gardena issue to rest with such positive and affirmative results. Thank you guys ! Amen.

    Marshall,
    Come for the climate is right on. I suffer from allergies here in the Midwest and I need to be back right on the beach in Playa del Rey or Santa Monica.
    ( wherever has the nearest El Pollo Loco store . )

    Chris,
    Thanks for telling us of the business climate in your areas during the mid to late 1980’s. We all have learned to expect and live with change, but when it gets personal it can be disappointing to say the least.
    The history you provided helps me understand in more detail what had transpired while I was out of the loop for so many years. I love history !

    Well Gang, I am closing now in hopes that I can beat the Managements
    Sunday morning cutoff time.
    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Good morning Chris, Marshall and all Readers,

    As Chris promised, he did a drive by and photo shoot of the Gardena unit.
    Thanks again Chris for validating this location for all of us.
    Yes Marshall, this Gardena Woody’s is the very structure that both you and I thought was too small. Perhaps the huge vertical windows are an architectural feature that put things out of scale.

    So, we have the personal, physical validation by Chris and wait till you read the second item for validation.
    Chris took seven photos from different angles, and three of the shots feature the large sign located at the front entrance.
    It is a Woody’s Smorgasburger sign ! No doubt.

    The sign is a smaller version of the original sign designed for the Woody’s in Culver City. The both feature serrated edges which replicated stacked wood logs. On top of the sign , in the middle , is a cutout oval where the name Woody’s was painted.
    Both structure and sign look in pretty good shape to me for 54 years old.
    No telling what the future holds.
    Back in a minute.
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Phil – Come for the climate – stay for the traffic!

    Actually, I never minded the traffic. Kinda went with the territory. I do remember one drive from Orange County out to Camarillo one Friday evening in January, 1989. Normally, this drive takes maybe 2 hours. In a heavy L.A. rainstorm, this time it took 5, with 2 or 3 detours around clogged freeways. Then, after dropping off our daughter with her aunt, we left for Vegas. Got in at 3AM Saturday, which was otherwise uneventful. Sunday morning, our vehicle burned up in a coffee shop parking lot. Fun trip.

  • Chris says:

    The Woody’s in Gardena was on the north side of Rosecrans just east of Van Ness. Not on the corner of Van Ness but very close.
    The building is still there, but is now abandoned.
    I sent Phil some pictures I took the other day.

  • Chris says:

    The wooden dimes, I thought they were nickels, were, I believe for a frosty mug of root beer. I had a couple once many years ago but don’t remember for sure what the value was.
    In El Segundo for many, many years, Woodys was pretty much the only burger place on Sepulveda Bl. That all changed in the mid to late 80’s when they tore down the old Leonards store. Leonards was kind of like a Sam’s today, but on a much smaller scale. On that large site on the corner of Sepulveda and Mariposa, just a block for Woodys. They put in, along with a few in-line stores a number of different type of take out restaurants and a couple of sit down restaurants as well. One being an El Pollo Loco.
    The free standing Sizzler was the largest tenant.
    That Sizzler just closed a few weeks ago to make way for an In and Out drive thru.
    Anyway, needless to say, all those restaurants, along with the huge layoffs from aerospace, because of the cold war ending. It took a toll on Woodys.
    We still did ok but it wasn’t like being the only game in town anymore.
    We still had the best hamburgers in town, or anywhere, but we now started selling grilled Chicken and a lot of other new items as well.
    I remember when they opened the new Bob’s Big Boy just down the street from Woody’s #1 in Culver City the huge impact it had. We never really quite recovered from that. That Big Boy has now been gone for many years as well as the Woodys.
    I hope, for those of you who follow this site, that this little bit of history gives you a little in site to Woody’s history.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Readers !

    I think this posting will be of more value to those of us who have not been in the El Segundo area for quite some time.
    I had an inkling to use the Google map site to check out Sepulveda Blvd.
    south of LAX and in particular the immediate area south of the Woody’s site. ( now IHOP )

    Holy smokes ! The city fathers may rename this road section ;
    ” Burger Blvd. ” I see Carl’s Jr. and a Five Guys with a new INnOut
    planned for the East side of the Blvd.
    Both Ralph Wood and Chris had this strip to themselves for sooooo many years. I understand Chris goes thru the area once per week so he his certainly aware of present and future developments.
    As for Mr.Wood , I would like to think that one of his kids would invite him on a little car trip into El Segundo so he too can see the transformation.

    Of course there are plenty of new eateries on site besides burger joints.
    My favorite would be the juicy chicken dinners at El Pollo Loco !
    So, for a fun trip without spending gas money, use the much improved Google map site and check this area out.

    I gotta get back out to LA next year as it will my 50th anniversary of my relocation there in May of 1964. I want my wife and I to see and taste all this stuff for ourselves. Amen

    Only two weeks left of summer vacation. Enjoy
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Miss Karen,
    What a fun comment. I am so thankful you added the last phrase as you would have had a number of us trying to find out where Karen fit in.
    Phil A.

  • Miss Karen Wood says:

    You all made my day – reading about all the Woody’s memories brought it all back to me, too. No relation to the owners.

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Hello Readers,
    ” You are all ” Morganized ” ! ~ in remembrance of Robert W. , KHJ ~

    I found the Woody’s Wooden Dime. The site is one of the many listed under Woody’s Smorgasburger with the Google search.
    The photo shows the wooden dime to be about the size of a quarter
    with a printed inscription on each side.
    ” One to a customer ” and ” Worth 10 cents on purchase at any
    Woody’s Smorgasburger.”

    I myself have never saw one and this is the first I have learned of its
    existence. It must have been put in circulation in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. I suppose each unit manager was given a few bags to toss about his local area like the Redondo Pier, Studio Drive In and high school ball fields.

    ” save a nickel, save a dime, save at Thrifty every time ”
    Thrifty Drug of course was one of Robert W.’s biggest sponsors.
    KHJ Boss Angeles !

    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    This is for all you old Geezers, ( like me )

    This is probably Monday morning and if any of you need a ” jump start ”
    to begin your week, let me suggest the following;
    Switch out of this site and go into UTube.
    Punch in Jan and Arnie for ” Jennie Lee ”
    and then Jan and Dean for ” Baby Talk “.

    These guys were your home town favorites ( like Woody’s ).
    Jan was a master in obtaining the best sidemen on the west coast.
    The saxophone bridge will get those ol bones movin today. Guaranteed.

    So, what’s this got to do with Woody’s Smorgasburger ?
    Only that they were both really great and at the top of their game.
    Am I right Gary Wilcut ?

    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    For All Readers, Employees and Patrons of Woody’s,

    I have come to learn that Mr. Ralph Wood is ” slowing down ” .
    Mr. Wood will be 88 years old at some point this year.
    So, for those of you who still say your bedtime prayers, please join me in adding Mr. Wood to your prayer list.
    Please, do NOT interpret this comment as something dire. It is not.
    I pray that Mr. Wood will maintain the strength that he has for many more wonderful years with his family and friends. Amen

    Warm regards,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    Good Morgan Marshall, ( as in Robert W. ~ KHJ )

    Thank you for posting the photo on your FB. The more I look at it, the bigger it looks. We are looking forward to Chris’s drive by so he can proclaim his yea or nay on this building.
    Your personal photo is cool too. I am trying to imagine you with the Woody’s Tyrolean hat.
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:
  • Phil ( Mr. A ) says:

    While prepping my deck for re staining , this thought occurred;
    If Chris can verify that the flat roofed restaurant near the N/E corner is indeed the former Woody’s site, well then, how many of us would be up for the proposition of restoring the building to a new Woody’s ?

    Chris would need to find some time away from his chicken and join
    Gary Wilcut in operations. Gary would of course feature his salsa along with the Woody’s original salsa. Marshall and I would be silent partners who chip in our ideas and suggestions from Oregon and Ohio.

    We could replicate the practice of the Paul Newman Food Co. and donate all the profits to charity. Who doesn’t need another tax exemption ?

    The nice thing about this N/E location on Rosecrans is that there is enormous opportunity to expand the square footage as the $$$$$
    rolls in. Hell, you could have a FOUR lane dive thru at the back of the unit.
    One lane for each language ; English, Spanish, Korean and Asian !!

    As business continues to explode, we would take over the U Haul joint
    and feature a Sunday afternoon Luau like the ” Latitude 20 ” had.
    You would have your Smorgees, beers and drinks while being entertained by the most curvy and slimmest Island dancers. ( in honor of Hop Louie )

    Well gang, in reviewing the above narrative, it is obvious that I have been
    affected by the fumes of the Behr Deck Stripper.
    I gotta get back out there and hose that stuff off.

    PS ; Because I did not list more than four names as investors in the Woody’s project, this does not mean others are excluded.
    More the merrier….. plus females are most welcome !

    It’s been fun,
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Late tonight I’ll post up a pic of the building on my FB page. Go to the album labelled ‘Woody’s’. (not there yet)

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