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Bobby Green (center) and his two business partners: ready to take your order.
Bobby Green (center) and his two business partners: ready to take your order.

Tail o' the Pup

Field review by the editors.

West Hollywood, California

"Nobody takes themselves too seriously in a giant hot dog," said Bobby Green, co-owner and lead designer of the 1933 Group. The Group restores vintage Los Angeles restaurants and bars (such as the city's huge whiskey barrel). The giant hot dog -- also restored by the 1933 Group -- is Tail o' the Pup, a massive wiener that began serving franks-on-a-bun in West Hollywood in 1946.

Meat-chomping Hollywood stars at the Pup's 1946 grand opening.
Meat-chomping Hollywood stars at the Pup's 1946 grand opening.

"L.A. was built on the wacky and unusual," said Bobby. "It should be celebrating that identity, not tearing it down to build boxy condos."

Tail o' the Pup was the brainstorm of a ballroom dancing duo named Veloz and Yolanda, popular in 1940s Hollywood. "They wanted to have kids but they didn't want to give up show biz," said Bobby. The giant hot dog was their idea of a celebrity restaurant; a way to stay in the limelight and socialize with stars -- or at least stars who liked hot dogs. Photos from the Pup's 1946 debut show a Tinseltown opening night mob scene with searchlights, camera-wielding newsmen, an MC, and wiener-eating thespians such as Lex Barker (RKO's future Tarzan).

French actress Brigitte Auber samples a USA hot dog in 1954.
French actress Brigitte Auber samples a USA hot dog in 1954.

The Pup dispensed franks for decades, its stucco exterior undergoing odd color shifts that were documented by numerous cameos in Hollywood films, TV shows, and music videos. But neighborhood development and new restaurant health codes -- such as glassing-in the open counter with a window -- cramped the hot dog's style, and it fell into a sad decline. When the Pup closed in December 2005, its revival seemed unlikely.

"It was like losing an uncle or an aunt," said Bobby. "You think they're gonna be there forever, and then they're not."

The battered Pup was hauled away into storage at the Valley Relics Museum. Bobby and his group eventually purchased the big wiener but couldn't find a new home for it, particularly since Bobby wanted one near its original spot. Years passed. Then the Covid pandemic hit, forcing a number of restaurants out of business and abruptly making available an ideal location for the Pup: a street corner building on Route 66/Santa Monica Boulevard, with a full kitchen in the back and enough room for the giant hot dog out front.

As a bonus for an L.A. history nerd like Bobby, the empty restaurant building had formerly been a music studio where The Doors had recorded their Los Angeles anthem, "L.A. Woman." "What a great double whammy!" Bobby said.

Indoor seating is new luxury at the restored Pup. Vintage photos of Pup celebrities line the walls.
Indoor seating is new luxury at the restored Pup. Vintage photos of Pup celebrities line the walls.

Tail o' the Pup reopened on July 20, 2022, renovated but not over-restored, according to Bobby. "We left a lot of the warts and bumps, to keep the soul of the place alive," he said. Customers place their orders at the hot dog's open counter, then walk to the indoor kitchen to pick up their food (The distance between where the food is ordered and where it's cooked allows the hot dog to be open-air again). The menu includes a dozen different varieties of franks, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options, and wine and cocktails (An alcohol-free "Doggy Beer" is available for visiting canines). Customers can either dine on a covered patio al fresco or indoors, where the walls are hung with framed vintage photos of famous Pup visitors such as Herve Villechaize and DEVO.

DEVO chow down on Pup wieners in 1981.
DEVO chow down on Pup wieners in 1981.

Los Angeles has a reputation as an unsentimental city, and 17 years out of the public eye is a lifetime in Hollywood -- but you wouldn't have guessed that from the cheers that greeted the return of the Pup. Bobby said that the mayor and the head of the city planning department both told him, "We love Tail o' the Pup as much as you do." No one, he said, has ever told him that he was crazy for spending so much effort and money on a giant hot dog.

The revival of Tail o' the Pup seems to have been a success, and yet we wondered: with its newly diversified menu and dining options, is it too much of a good thing? Another example of Hollywood excess? Bobby didn't think so. "By L.A. standards it's not that nice," he said. "It is much cleaner. People appreciate that."

Tail o' the Pup

Address:
8512 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA
Directions:
On the south side of Route 66/Santa Monica Blvd, just west of its intersection with La Cienega Blvd.
Hours:
Su-Th 11-9, F-Sa 11-10 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
424-527-0131
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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