The Dog House

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The Dog Houses comprised a chain of very small restaurants around L.A., often on a piece of land that also held a large car wash.  I’m going to guess that was the idea.  Someone said, “Hey, let’s design a little restaurant that can fit in a spot that doesn’t seem big enough for a restaurant and where people have to wait around for their car to be washed.”  And then someone else said, “Uh, like a hot dog stand?”  And the first person said, “Kind of…but let’s make it a little more upscale so we’ll get the business of folks who think they’re too good to eat at a hot dog stand.”

At least, that seemed to be the premise, though I don’t think the one in the above photo was near a car wash.  It did however display uncommon courage by daring to sell hot dogs around the corner from Pink’s.  As you can see, a Dog House was a small building that vaguely resembled a dog house…and I vaguely recall some had stools that looked like hydrants.  You could dine inside at the counter or outside in a small porch area with tables.  Either one was cramped but inside, it was worse.

Outside, they often had waitresses and menus, and the selection was obviously limited by the size of their tiny kitchens.  Basically, it was burgers, dogs and a few sandwiches and salads, and I think some of them also served breakfast.  The food was not wonderful but I think it was a case of the cute decor making you expect something better than your basic hot dog/burger stand.

48 Responses to The Dog House

  • Sharon Ortale says:

    Loved our Dog House, in Santa Monica on 3rd and Wilshire. We all went there after school and in the evenings. My favorite was the “Cha-Cha WaWa”, a Chilie dog; “Brawney Bull ” with beans; etc. Who can name others? My husband and all his friends worked there and we had one of those circular thingies that would “Score” the dog for best grilling.

  • Roy Johnson says:

    I hung out at the dog house in Westwood Village every weekend night in 19 67 + 68

  • Daniel says:

    Hi David, I worked at natures health Cove next to the doghouse I guess that was about 1971. I remember Marios what a great Italian place across from Stan’s donuts and then next to Stans Was a great falafel shop where you could get a beautiful falafel! Will rights ice cream that place had the best ice cream in the world I took my girlfriend there when I was 15 and she was 15 she was really cute she graduated UCLA as a math major married Jewish guy and settle down haven’t heard from her in 50 years! Are used to get some alcohol out of my dad’s bottles and take it down to the dog house and my friend would buy a couple cokes and we would make drinks and go to UCLA medical Center and get lost. Now my life is still amazing I spent six Months living in Thailand With my beautiful girlfriend. Take care, Daniel

  • Louie says:

    look where that mind goes (michael rankins, march 12, 2012)… and that is funny!
    just watched an old 70s fred williamson flic titled “mean johnny barrows” and ‘the dog house’ sat prominently in frame… 25:34 into the movie on my player. Had to look it up and found myself here:)

  • Berton Gray says:

    There were one restaurant in West Plam Beach Florida 1966 I was eight years old
    The thing we’re three breads and two beef patties and a sauce

  • Haley says:

    I’m trying to sleuth and find info on Twin Castle/Twin Castles–the shields at Twin Castle “Hamburgers” suddenly make sense. Had no idea there was one on Melrose! There was one at Santa Monica and Edgemont I’m currently trying to dig up information on. Anyone have any info?

  • Soichiro says:

    Honda TV commercial was filmed here in the late 70s, with British ska band Madness. Search “Honda City Madness” in Youtube.

  • Gary Avrech says:

    I would have loved to eat at Linny’s since my step-mother’s Dad and Mom, Morris & Ruth Schneider were owners that told me stories about the deli andother delis in L.a. Morris , rhough long-retired introduced me to Langer’s Deli for L.A.’s best pastrami. I’ll be forever grateful for that tip.

  • Doug Millhoff says:

    I salvaged the cast iron bones from the Dog House on 6th st (by the old car wash on Rampart, as seen in “Car Wash” movie) before its demolition. I have no idea what to do with them, just too cool to see them trashed.

    I only wish I could have salvaged one or more of the fire-plug theme stools along the lunch counter…

  • CEL says:

    WOW!!! I can’t believe people in 2018 still commenting and remembering “The dog house”. I thought only my wife, her family and I would be the only people left to remember. Her family owned the “The dog house” franchise. As a matter of fact we met at one of their stands, the one at Central Ave in Glendale. The one depicted on the photo was located in Melrose and her older brother used to run it. Chances are that the “waitress” the article refers to may have been her as she used to work at the Melrose stand during school breaks. All the menu items had names such as “Chi-waw-waw”, “poodle” and “bashful pup”. Not all of them were located at car washes but they were located within the confines of other businesses. And yes, the idea behind it was to have a captive customer base (i.e. Gas station, car wash) You were doing something that you had to wait for so you have something to eat while you waited. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

  • Gordy McKay says:

    Loved going to the one in Santa Monica on Wilshire Blvd. Great chili dogs and I somehow remember a good Fish n’ Chips place close by…..Mucky Duck I think. Those were the days.

  • Art Parma says:

    I loved the chili dogs. The hot dog buns were a very yellow color on the inside

  • Art Parma says:

    I remember the hot dog buns bread was a very yellow color and they tasted great! I loved the chili dogs!

  • John Engstrom says:

    david heimark – you are correct. Per IMDB, there was a “Dog House” adjacent to the car wash at 6th & Rampart. Why IMDB? – because the Dog House and the car wash were featured in the 1976 movie “Car Wash”, which was filmed there.

  • Robert Chiarini says:

    I worked at The Dog House in Hollywood in the late 70’s. Only Four stools,The place was busy,busy.But, I loved the action I was young enough then to enjoy the play. I served a few Celebrities as well.

    Fun Job

  • Elizabeth Sheiman says:

    The Dog House was a hoot as a kid – my aunt would take all the kids (5 cousins) and I in the gigantic station wagon and we could each get a hot dog. Just happy memories.

  • David says:

    WOW! Steve Giest from Westwood Village… Mr Super Bee!!! Performance Unlimited… I remember that, as well as the ‘Regents’ and the ‘Gents’. I remember coming over to your house, you had a ‘Rail car’ that you would have your friends push you down the street in. Did you ever get it running? I could just see you at Lyon’s Drag Strip kickin’ass!

    Great to see you here my friend.

    David :)

  • David says:

    A correction regarding my comment to Daniel Stehura…

    Hey Daniel,

    I made a mistake, the marketnear the Plaza Theater was Jurgensen’s not Gelsons.

  • David says:

    In reference to Daniel Stehura’s comment on Westwood Village and the Dog House.

    Hey Daniel,

    You’re right, the Dog House in Westwood Village was a cool place to hang out in the 60’s. In fact, just before they closed down, a buddy of mine who worked there gave me one of the Dog House shirts… I still have it today.

    The Health Food store you’re taking about was Nature’s Health Cove… I worked there as well as at Woody’s Smorgasburger across the street, and at the Plaza Theater next to Gelson’s Market just down the street from Bullocks Department Store.

    Do you remember Ships Restaurant and Truman’s Drive-In, both on Wilshire Blvd. at Westwood Blvd.?… and let’s don’t forget Will Wrights Ice Cream Parlor.

  • Brian Trester says:

    I also saw the Animal Hospital in the background. I guess if your dog does not make it he can at least be recycled….no forget i even said that

  • Gary Einhorn says:

    My fathers company L&B Manufacturing in Santa Monica did the seating. The counter stools had a molded plastic fire hydrant over the steel column. The chain was owned by the Lapin brothers, who also started IHOP. They also owned the Copper Penny coffee shops. His company did all the IHOP interiors, the first location was in Toluca Lake across from Bob’s Big Boy and the Hot Dog Show. All 3 buildings still exist.

  • Max Etter says:

    Rick’s comment is right. In 1961-1962 I lived with 3 roommates in an apt. Between 6th and 7th. On Lake St. After many nights about the town we would stop by Audrey’s for chili dogs and burgers. They were the best. In fact on one occasion one of my roommates ate 7 chili dogs and a hamburger and slept soundly. We were all from Washington and moved on after finishing at LA. State and UCLA.

  • Carlos Torres says:

    Hello my name is Carlos I am writing to you because I Would like to know if you have any lapel pins key chains or collectibles or merchandise from the dog house.Carlos Torres 1133portland place apt.222 boulder Colorado 80303

  • Michael Gerson says:

    My brother worked in the one on Fountain and Vermont near the hospitals. There was always a crowd of doctors, nurses, and technicians who came by for a great cheap meal. He also made friends with several of the locals who were very kind to him. We lived on the westside and I would take buses after school to hang out with him and do my homework. Most memorable night was the final episode of the Fugitive TV series and big crowd came but to watch it on a small set we had on the counter.

  • Daniel Stehura says:

    The one on Westwood Village was a cool place to hang out when your 15 and from Westchester. I met my first GF there Sara what a Sweetheart from Westlake girls School. Westwood Village was in its prime in those days with many free parking places and a laid back vibe. Westwood Village also had 2 great camera stores where I bought my first Semi Pro Camera. We also had a great Health Food Store and Jergensens for fine food. Hamburger Hamlet was a Saturday Lunch place. Stan’s Donuts was across the Street from Mario’s Italian Food. Those were the Best days ever.

  • Grace Powers says:

    My grand daughter Kaelie looked this up right after I showed her an old picture of the dog house I used to work in and it’s the same dog house that’s posted here on Mel rose and la brea thatnks for the memories

  • Grace Dela cruz powers says:

    .my granddaughter looked this up after I showed her our old picture she came up with the exact dog house I our families owned at one time in the early 70’s ran it til the early 80’s my mother was blessed with several dog housesthe onwngraceer than was Mr.Mathis he knew that my. Mom has a big family so weallgot one I had the one on 3 Rd and Alvarado, my brothers had the Santa Monica,others had melrose and Labrrea, six and rampart well al I all it was blessing in more than many ways it was a one man operation or two if it got really busy. I appreciate all the memories .

  • Juarez says:

    I worked for a good man, Noah Thurman, at the 3rd and Wilshire location. The local hang out for an up and coming actor who was in a series “Then Came Bronson”, he met his fate at Pico and Bundy. My grandchildren love the dogs I make because, as mentioned above, I scored them and cooked them to order

  • paul says:

    thanks a lot for this blog!!!!
    i worked at two dog houses in 1968. the first was at 6th and rampart. and the 2nd was on alvarado between 1st and 3rd sts.
    the 1st had a car wash across the parking lot. i think its in the movie”car wash”. great memories

  • Rick says:

    I remember Audreys at Alvarado & Olympic. It was around the corner from the house I was raised in until I was 17. My family knew Audrey. Chilidogs were a quarter. Many Saturday afternoons when my grandparents would visit we would lunch on chilidogs/burgers from Audreys. I believe the stand opened by 10am and stayed open until at least midnight most nights. On more than one occasion the stand was hit by cars as that busy corner had more than its share of accidents.

  • Darryle Purcell says:

    I worked at the Dog House on Melrose and La Brea in 1964. Once in a while I would also work at the one on the Sunset Strip. The all-beef dogs were pretty darn good (since, at a dollar an hour, one tended to eat where one worked). The earlier post about the architect is probably right because, as I remember, the chain was started and owned by the same brothers who started the House of Pancakes.

  • Art says:

    Does anyone have a list of the cities that The Dog House was in? Seems like I remember a restaurant like this in Visalia, CA in the early 60’s behind the car wash on Mooney Blvd. & Walnut Ave. I have been racking my brain and researching this and can not find anything to confirm. I see this picture of the restaurant and it makes me think it was in Visalia. Then I see that Grey’s Chili Dogs in Porterville is very similiar. If anyone could let me know, it would be appreciated.

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

    If ya ever “do” old Route 66 (backwards) like even many international visitors do, but from Chicago: There is a not-to-be-confused Dog House in Albuquerque that goes back to the mid ’50s for Folks like these who were headed out to dine at all of Mark’s oldies!!!. It is a classic hole-in-the-wall currently noted as a backdrop for Breaking Bad, but primarily for its Foot Long (New Mexico Red, not Tex-Mex/Coney Island) Chile Cheese Dog con onions. Having had over a tenth of a mile of ’em I can vouch for ’em and an Orange Drink (not cola…LOL) as a pairing! Its other claim to fame is here to see its neon animation of the era, after you click the pic!

  • Martin says:

    Used to eat at the location on Melrose and LaBrea (almost across the street from Pink’s) with my father. We both preferred the hot dogs at Twin Castle though (down the street at Melrose and Gardner, which eventually became the very first Johnny Rockets). I’d love to see someone write up a history of Twin Castle – hot dogs named after royalty like King, Queen, Duchess, Duke, etc… There is still one left on Moorpark and Vineland, but it isn’t really a hot dog place anymore.

  • John Hurley says:

    The Santa Monica location was northwest corner of 3rd and Wilshire. The office building that was put up once had a bar/restaurant named the Bull and Bear. There was a Merrill Lynch location on the same floor as the bar.

  • Karl Humphreys says:

    I remember the Dog house in Santa Monica and the Mucky Duck well. It was on the same property on Wilshire Blvd. before the Mucky Duck moved. I loved the ginger beer they served at the Mucky Duck. You should write about that place too, it was the first place that served fish and chips. There are a lot of wonderful restaurants that have closed over the years. Like the Queens Arms, Michael’s Canoga Inn, The Generous Britain, and Solleys Deli. I would love to hear more about them. How about the one in I think it was Van Nuys, and I think it was called the 455 Aero Squadron. Many many fond memories over the years.

  • Shel Weisbach says:

    The diner at Reseda Blvd and Saticoy St was a Pup ‘n Taco. Later, a Fatburger. Presently closed.

  • Steve Geist says:

    I remember The Dog House in Westwood Village in the 60’s. I was in a car club call “Performance Unlimited.” Know the “PU” boys (Haaa Haaa). We had a great time racing around Westwood and then stopping in at The Dog House. Everyone would stop by and have a hot dog or two. Great meeting place and I have great memories of that time and place.

  • Hugh Jaynus says:

    There is a building that looks just like that on Saticoy & Reseda Blvd. in the Valley…. it has the gabled house sign over the main shack of the eatery and everything. Oh, and it’s attached to a car wash as well. Thanks for the interesting history of this place! I never knew that.

  • Jon says:

    I fondly remember Saturday & Sunday afternoons with my dad, at the Dog House on Hollywood Blvd. 1/2 block east of Vine Street. They had the Vienna brand hot dogs, and made hamburgers to order. They served breakfast all day, had pastrami & other sandwiches, and they closed at about 8PM. It was directly across the street from the Pantages Theatre, so we got to see the monikers of latest musicals playing there. Shortly after my dad passed away, the Dog House closed up, and the land was sold to MTA. It was where the escalator entrance to the Vine Street Red Line Station is, now. Maybe it’s the memories, or the good times I had with dad, but I’ve yet to find a hot dog that tastes as good…

  • Karen says:

    I don’t remember there Bing one near the Mucky Duck, but that was a great place to hang out on weekends!

  • Randy Bash says:

    If you lived in Westwood Village in the 60’s, you were eating and hanging out at the Dog House!

  • david heimark says:

    Wasn’t it a “Dog House” next to the carwash at 6th and Rampart?
    Best of all chilidogs, in my opinion, was Audrey’s on the sw corner of Olympic and Alvarado. I would love to hear from someone who remembers Audrey’s.

  • steve diggles says:

    We would eat at the Dog House near the beach in Santa Monica late 50s -late 60s . I remember the grilled dogs with lot’s of onions and mustard. Good eats after after a long day of wave riding. Pop bought a new 1956 red station wagon which was keen to load up the neighbor hood and hit P.O.P., those were the days.

  • Shel Weisbach says:

    Gray’s Chili Dogs, 166 North 2nd St, Porterville, has the definite look of a one-time Dog House – building shape, chimney, signage… The architect may have been Eugene D. Birnbaum, designer of the iconic IHOPs and butterfly-roofed Woody’s SmorgasBurger.

  • Mike Rubin says:

    I may be having a senior moment, but I recall that they grilled their dogs, rather than steam or boil them. They also scored them, so they looked a bit like a curlique in the bun. I recall them being quite delicious, but I was very, very young at the time and probably very, very undemanding when it came to hot dogs.

  • Craig Printup says:

    There was one in Santa Monica near the Mucky
    Duck that my great grandmother used to take me too. I did not like their food, mostly because they used weird buns…they were bright yellow instead of the normal pasty white…egg buns maybe?

  • Michael Rankins says:

    Am I the only one who’s creeped out by the fact that there’s a hot dog stand right next to the animal hospital?

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