Tail o’ the Cock

The photo above is of the Tail o’ the Cock at 44 S. La Cienega Boulevard, aka “Restaurant Row.”  There was another at 12950 Ventura Boulevard — both popular dinner joints famous for their America menus (steak, prime rib, etc.) and bar scene.  The Tail o’ the Cock claimed to be the first place in Los Angeles to serve Margaritas and it may well have been, I don’t know.

As one might gather from the name, the big selling point at Tail o’ the Cock wasn’t the food so much as the cocktails.  It was a popular place for people to meet for drinks, especially late in the afternoon.  An awful lot of Hollywood deals were consummated there over martinis.  It was where a voice actress named June Foray met with two animation producers — Jay Ward and Bill Scott — and they told her they wanted her to play a new character named Rocky the Flying Squirrel.  And there were probably less important roles cast there involving big Academy Award productions.

I ate once at the one on Ventura.  I recall the food being satisfactory but not much more.  I recall the room being somewhat dark and depressing.  I recall the service being quite friendly and efficient.  It was the kind of place where the servers and the bartenders had been there for a decade or more and had no intention of going anywhere else.  Then the two places closed down, one after the other.

Owner-founder Sheldon A. (Mac) McHenry sold the one on La Cienega in 1982 and it closed in 1985.  There’s an office building there now though it does have an Indian restaurant on the ground floor.

The one in the Valley closed a few days after New Year’s, 1987.  It was razed and a shopping mall was built in its place.  A lot of people still remember the two restaurants fondly.

109 Responses to Tail o’ the Cock

  • Norm Thompson says:

    Hi Kenn, omelettes are easy to make but the ingredients used for the filling is what I need. Mushrooms, a very good seasoning sauce, chicken, shallots (?), etc. I’ve been unable to duplicate it. I’ve looked online and I haven’t found the recipe.

  • Kenn Barrett says:

    Look up “Omelette Chanticleer” on-line. Many entries.

  • Norm Thompson says:

    We used to go there (Valley location) maybe three times a week with my Mom & Dad in-laws as well as my wife. We all ordered our favorites and mine was Omelette Chanticleer. Harry was the main server there and he always sat us near the piano and the many movie stars who seemed to always be there. Really miss that place and the atmosphere. Closest place to it I believe is The Smokehouse in Burbank.

    Ps. Would anyone know how to get the recipe for the omelette Chanticleer?

  • Kenn Barrett says:

    I worked robbery protection at the Ventura Blvd. location in the late 1970’s. Celeb’s I saw included Sam Yorty (former L.A. Mayor) Alan Dinehart, George Gobel, Pat Buttrum, Robert Conrad, Dorothy Lamour, and Jerry Dunphy (L.A. News Anchor). A great bunch of people worked there. Across the street at the Sportsman’s Lodge I did the same and saw Marlon Brando.

  • Dan Carlin says:

    When I was a teenager in the mid-60s, I parked cars at the Valley location (Ventura and Coldwater) on Friday and Saturday nights–a great and well-paying gig for a high-schooler. After the service, I returned for the vibe and the dining, the best part of which was hearing the all-time great Johnny Guarnieri playing his stride piano. Nobody else played like that, and the best musicians in town knew it, so it was a treat to watch them watch him. In those days, musicians played in every one of the major Ventura Boulevard restaurants running from Encino to Studio City, including Chadney’s, the Hungry Tiger, Dick Whittinghill’s, and Tail o’ the Cock.

  • Ted Woodson says:

    The music scene at the Sherman Oaks location was great with old swing music played by old time musicians like Jess Stacy who played piano with Benny Goodman.

  • Laurie johnson says:

    Terry Kath and his wife Pamela had their wedding reception here!!! Founding Lead guitarist and singer for Chicago.

  • Rose Marie says:

    Hi Tail o’ the Cock community! Does anyone recall the uniforms that the bartender and the matrie d wore? I am researching the restaurant for a project and it has been such a pleasure to read all these stories. Thank you for posting!

  • Dutch Green says:

    My former father-in-law used to take me to the one on La Cienega for Sunday brunch when we were in the LA area in the ’70s and ’80, and I remember him telling me that they only hired male waiters, and they were very good at their job… we never wanted for anything and the service and food was above par.

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