From “Columbo,” “The Muppets” and “The Rockford Files” to “L.A. Story,” L.A.’s famous Tail ‘o the Pup hot dog stand has been part of the city’s cinematic history ever since it opened in 1946.
In fact, the year it opened, Variety mentioned the spot in a column, saying “Tail o’ the Pup, the fancy hotdog stand, now has a $1 frankfurter. With caviar!”
There’s currently no caviar on the the dogs, but the new menu has something for everyone — classic dogs topped with bacon, jalapeno, sauerkraut and more; gluten-free corndogs, veggie dogs and a selection of beef and veggie burgers.
The iconic stand that was cleared away to make room for the construction of the Sofitel Hotel has now been moved to a spacious spot on Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of La Cienega, that adds indoor seating and an upstairs patio wrapped around the compact historic hotdog-shaped building. In the early part of the 20th century, restaurants in the shape of hotdogs, chili bowls, tamales, bulldogs and more — known as programmatic architecture — drew customers across Los Angeles. Though many are now gone, preservationists and L.A. history lovers are keeping up the fight to preserve the remaining few.
One of their most important allies is Bobby Green of the 1933 Group, who restored the Pup along with The Formosa and the Idle Hour, bringing the one-of-a-kind spots back to life with sensitive restorations and quality menus.
Green, who had been eating at the Pup since he was 10 years old, bought the stand from the family that owned it in 2018 and scoured the city for a space with sidewalk access and room for a patio where beer could be served. When the West Hollywood space became available, Green was excited to find out it was also the location of the Doors’ rehearsal studio where the band recorded “L.A. Woman.”
“What says L.A. more than that building?” asks Green.
The Pup itself was also a popular spot for celebrity photoshoots and visits. “Devo, the Go-Gos, the Stray Cats, Tattoo from ‘Fantasy Island,’ Sigourney Weaver — new celebrity photos pop up all the time,” Green says of the stand’s famous customers.
Also on the menu are shakes and soft-serve ice cream, chili cheese fries, beer and wine and of course, a dog-focused menu featuring Bowser Beer and a Doggy Pup. “We make our own spreads,” Green specifies.
So what’s next for Green and his efforts to keep L.A.’s iconic buildings intact? Are there any local more marvels of programmatic architecture on the chopping block that he’s considering? Green says he recently looked into acquiring the former Chili Bowl restaurant on Pico in West L.A., but the owners ultimately weren’t interested in working with him. For now he’s savoring the Pup’s rebirth as the top dog of L.A. landmarks.
Tail ‘o the Pup, 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood