There was once a time when Pink's wasn't the only Hollywood-famous hot dog stand in town. In the late '40s, a 17-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall hot dog-shaped stand called Tail O' the Pup sat on La Cienega Boulevard in the Beverly Grove neighborhood just south of West Hollywood. The stand, built in 1946 by the architect Milton Black, featured a red and white striped sign above a large hot dog dressed with mustard. It served loaded Hoffy hot dogs and hamburgers to its mostly celebrity clientele for more than 50 years.
In the '80s the stand moved to a new location on San Vicente Boulevard and in 2005 it was put into a storage unit. The stand is now co-owned by Jay and Nicole Miller (Jay is the grandson of Eddie Blake, who bought the stand in 1970 from original owners Frank Veloz and Yolanda Casazza), and Kevin Michaels and Brett Doherty (who also own Killer Shrimp and the chain Hamburger Hamlet), who have decided to put it back into business.
The refurbished stand will open at the Bloc development, coming to downtown L.A. next year. But Jay Miller says he didn't want to wait that long to relaunch the brand. So the owners did what you might expect them to do in 21st century Los Angeles: They opened a food truck.
"A lot of childhood memories took place at the stand for a lot of people who grew up in L.A.," said Jay, who frequented the original stand as a kid. "I remember one time Cyndi Lauper walked in and got a hot dog and I was like, 'Oh my God, that's Cyndi Lauper.' A lot of people have similar stories like that."
The truck sits in front of the Opening Ceremony clothing store on La Cienega Boulevard, not far from the stand's original location, serving the "classic dogs" the stand is known for, along with a list of "new classic dogs" (items the Millers, Michaels and Doherty dreamed up in the Killer Shrimp Kitchen).
If you grew up on the original menu, you may recognize the Boston Celtic, topped with sweet baked beans, mustard and diced onions; or the Manhattan, with sauerkraut, mustard and diced onion. The hot dogs are still all-beef Hoffy dogs, and the signature soft buns are made specially for the truck.
Some of the newer items include the Ultimate Chili Dog, basically a hot dog bun bread bowl lined with American cheese and filled with a massive amount of chili, crumbled bacon, caramelized onion and mustard; and the Blue Dog, served with plenty of blue cheese, bacon and caramelized onions.
And because this is Los Angeles, you can substitute a veggie dog or turkey dog for any dogs on the menu.
"We're staying true to what made the original successful, so we've kept all our old recipes," said Jay. "But we really wanted to cater to and attract a new generation."
To that end, the new menu includes a pastrami sandwich and Animal Tots, a take on the popular loaded In-N-Out-style fries, in which tater tots are covered with Thousand Island dressing, melted cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. (This is also done with onion rings.)
"There is a whole generation of kids who don't know about the stand," said Jay, who when he was growing up would go with his family to the stand every Saturday after baseball games. "The stand was our meeting place. It was our church."
You can find the truck parked at Opening Ceremony daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to the upcoming location at the Bloc, the Millers plan to open additional Tail O' the Pup locations.
451 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 579-1213, www.tailothepup.com.
Mustard over ketchup any day. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @Jenn_Harris_