Tail O’ the Pup Hot Dog Stand Returns to Los Angeles in May

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There was a time in Los Angeles history when it was not uncommon to see a building shaped like a tamale, derby hat, or bulldog. The novelty architecture fad has all but disappeared (you can still find a barrel or other oddity once in a while), an antiquated relic compared to the mixed-use real estate development boom of today. But one novelty structure so captivated the imagination of Los Angeles that, even in 2016, more than a decade after it closed, there’s a hunger for its return.

For almost 70 years, hungry Angelenos lined up outside Tail O’ the Pup, a large hotdog-shaped food stand on La Cienega that served, what else, hot dogs. Now some enterprising restaurateurs want to introduce that unique LA experience to a whole new generation of consumers, reports the LA Business Journal.

Brett Doherty and Kevin Michaels, owners of the Killer Shrimp restaurant in Marina Del Ray, bought the Tail O’ the Pup franchise late last year (outbidding The Grove’s Rick Caruso no less) with plans to open a location in Downtown’s upcoming The Bloc shopping plaza. In addition to the new Downtown LA digs, the duo also promised to bring the Pup back to La Cienega in 2016.

Now they’ve announced the official opening date and location for the reborn Tail O’ the Pup. The hotdog stand will reopen on May 1 in the parking lot of boutique clothing shop Opening Ceremony, just two blocks north of it’s original Beverly/La Cienega location.

The new owners are even keeping the stand in the family, employing husband and wife Jay and Nicole Miller to operate the new stand; Jay is the grandson of Eddie Blake, the man who ran Tail O’ the Pup for more than 30 years after buying it from the original owners in the 1970s.

Customers line up outside a giant hot dog shaped food standTail O’ the Pup via Alan Taylor / Wikimedia Commons

One slight bummer hangs over the reopening, however. The weenie-shaped structure coming to La Cienega in May is not the original. Even after undergoing an extensive restoration in Vegas, the old Tail O’ the Pup stand that was used from 1946 to 2005 did not pass the health inspection. That 70-year-old stand was constructed of plastic, chickenwire, and who knows what else from 1946, a time not exactly known for safe building materials (cough…asbestos). No firm word on the old stand’s whereabouts has been offered by the new owners, but it’s probably sitting in the same Torrance storage facility that has housed it for the past decade.

The menu, like the stand itself, will also be getting a makeover. Prices will be a bit higher than they were when the stand closed in 2005. According to Doherty, the stand is “not selling a 45-cent hot dog anymore.” There are even plans to offer some “higher-end sausages.” Ooh la la. Much like the Clifton’s restoration and other reuses and renovations of historic LA landmarks, the price hike is the tradeoff for the persistence of LA’s past. It’s not buying hotdogs from a 70-year-old fiberglass wiener, but it’s the closest to that experience anyone is going to get.

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