Doggie Diner head. January 17, 2000. Liz Hafalia, San Francisco Chronicle
It's a sad day in the world of Dachshunds in Popular Culture. Our hearts go out to the friends and family of Al Ross, the founder of Doggie Diner, a chain of 30 restaurants with iconic Dachshund heads in the San Francisco Bay Area. The restaurants started in 1948 and were hugely popular, making Mr. Ross a fortune. Union hassles and the pressure of competing with McDonald's prompted him to sell the Doggie Diner chain in 1979. Several of the Dachshund heads have been restored, even making traveling trips across the country and showing up at Dachshund festivals. The last Doggie Diner head (on a pole) makes its home in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. It has been declared a city landmark! Excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Mr. Ross took note of all the hubbub on Oakland's San Pablo Avenue during the war and decided a restaurant featuring "wiener dogs" would do well there. The Doggie Diner that opened on 19th and San Pablo Avenue in 1948 was an instant hit.
"His first stand did really well because he had all the sailors down there," said his son Ron Ross. "The nightclubs were all there. It was the hub back then."
Mr. Ross hired Harold Bachman, who designed the giant, grinning rotating brown dachshund heads. Soon they were all over Oakland, Emeryville, Richmond, San Francisco and Hayward.
The eateries, with their vinyl stools at Formica tables, were the first fast-food restaurants after World War II, uniquely fashioned for the masses to munch hot dogs and hamburgers on the run.
Find out more about the Doggie Diner Heads at OutsideLands.org.
Related: Dachshunds in Pop Culture: "Head Trip" The Movie