Califonia Bountiful

It's a bountiful life: Pink's Hot Dogs relishes success

Mar./Apr. 2015 California Bountiful magazine

The conversation with Gloria Pink and Beverly Pink Wolfe continues...

More online: Watch Pink's on TV

Gloria Pink, left, and Beverly Pink Wolfe run a historic hot-dog stand in Hollywood.

It's a rags-to-riches story that Hollywood movies are made of: In 1939, Paul and Betty Pink borrowed $50 to purchase a hot dog cart. Over time, Pink's Hot Dogs became a celebrity favorite and legendary restaurant, now run by the Pinks' children, Beverly and Richard, and Richard's wife, Gloria.

Why is Pink's the place to go?

Gloria: Hollywood loves fame and Pink's is the most famous hot dog stand in the city, if not one of the most famous in the country. It is often seen on TV and in movies, and is quoted as the place that celebrities will be seen dining on hot dogs. It is open every night until 2 a.m. (3 a.m. on weekends), so it is a cool spot to go after the clubs close. Pink's is renowned for its long lines.

Why are people willing to wait in line?

Gloria: Many customers enjoy the line since it aadds to the atmosphere. They enjoy the time to chat with friends or perhaps meet people from around the world that have come to Pink's because they heard you had to sample their famous hot dogs.

Beverly: People can't find the same quality hot dogs and sausages at any other hot dog stand and with the wide variety of toppings. Just about every taste can be satisfied whether it is a hot dog topped with a steak, grilled vegetables and melted cheese; two hot dogs rolled up in a tortilla with mustard, onions, chili, bacon and cheese; or a spicy Polish dog topped with grilled onions, guacamole, chopped tomatoes and two types of cheeses.

Jaws, a Polish-bacon chili cheeseburger, is one of more than 35 hot dogs and 12 hamburgers available at Pink's.

What makes Pink's unique?

Gloria: Pink's is unique for several reasons:

  • It is one of the few hot dog stands in America that has been in business over 75 years and is still family owned and operated.
  • It has over 35 hot dogs and 12 hamburgers on its menu, one of the most diverse hot dog menus in the U.S.
  • It is frequented by many Hollywood celebrities—as evidenced by over 200 signed photographs of stars on its celebrity wall of fame—dating back to Orson Welles, who holds the record for the most hot dogs consumed in one sitting (18), to Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Richard Dreyfuss, Adam Sandler, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson. Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink's.
  • It has a number of hot dogs whose toppings were created by famous chefs including Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and Giada DeLaurentiis.
  • It regularly appears on the food and travel channel as well as in movies and TV shows including "Ray Donovan," "Queen Latifah," "Ellen" and "The Muppet Movie."

What comes to mind as "celebrity moments" at Pink's?

Gloria: Jay Leno doing a skit on the Jay Leno show with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith in which Aerosmith was working behind the counter at Pink's serving hot dogs. Jay Leno came up to the counter to order a hot dog, only to have Aerosmith audition "Dream On" for a reluctant Jay Leno, who only wanted to have a hot dog. Also:

  • Craig Ferguson playing drums on the roof of Pink's and using it every night in his show's opening montage.
  • Kermit the Frog stopping at Pink's for a hot dog in "The Muppet Movie."
  • Adam Sandler waiting in line late at night with his pet dog, Meatball, just like any customer that comes to Pink's.

Lord of the Rings 

What is your favorite of the 35-plus varieties of dogs?

Gloria: My favorites include the Marlon Brando chili cheese hot dog (Marlon loved it), the Lord of the Rings Dog and the Ryan Lochte Hot Dog, created for the Olympic swimmer.

Beverly: I love the Philly Cheesesteak dog, a hot dog topped with a grilled steak, grilled pepper and onions, American and Swiss cheese. But they are all unique and so delicious.

Pink's Hot Dogs, with its creative toppings and celebrity-watching opportunities, draws crowds from around the world.

How did Pink's evolve from cart to restaurant?

Beverly: Pink's started in 1939 when Paul and Betty Pink found an ad for a hot dog cart for $50, which Betty's mother loaned them. They figured people have to eat, so it made sense to go into business. They bought the cart and found an open lot for lease for $15 per month near the corner of Melrose and La Brea avenues in Hollywood.

Betty and Paul wheeled the cart about 2 miles up Melrose Avenue. There was no electricity at the site so they had to buy a 100-yard extension cord to plug into an outlet of a friendly owner of a hardware store nearby. This is how they fired up Pink's for the first two years: with an extension cord.

The price of hot dogs was 10 cents and cokes were a nickel. Paul and Betty offered curb service.

In 1941, the landlord was willing to sell the property for $4,000. The bank manager was a regular customer at Pink's and consented to give them a loan. Pink's has remained in business for over 75 years and has become an iconic landmark in Los Angeles.

Pink's has grown from a push cart in 1939 to a restaurant that today seats 80 people and employees a staff of 30.

You've expanded into other states. What else does the future hold?

Beverly: Pink's will be opening in the Philippines this summer and looks forward to opening in national and international nontraditional locations like amusement parks, casinos, universities, cruise ships and military bases.

What other types of food are on your menu?

Gloria: Pink's offers 12 varieties of hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie dogs, turkey dogs and a variety of delicious sides including fries with bacon bits and nacho cheese, guacamole and coleslaw.

A sign on the top of your restaurant says "Hoffy." What does that mean?

Beverly: Hoffy is the name of the company that makes our hot dogs with natural casing that snaps and pops with juice when you bite into the hot dogs. Hoffy has been supplying Pink's its hot dogs since 1939.

What's your favorite thing about owning Pink's?

Gloria and Beverly: Satisfied customers that return to Pink's many times and our anniversary sales in which we sell "Chili Dogs for Charity."

Tracy Sellers 

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