Monday, April 5, 2010

Al Ross, founder of Doggie Diner Passes

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

Related:  Dachshunds in Pop Culture:  "Head Trip" The Movie


Hannalei said...

Rest in beautiful Peace Mr. Ross. Thanks for sharing that piece of history. As I'm still learning about dachshunds every little bit of info is completely interesting to me. Love the photos you shared. :)

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I would luved to have been there back then to order a hot dog when it was open as a restaurant.

Liz Kearley

MOUNTAIN said...

Good bye Mr Ross may you rest in peace. My Dad was the 1st teenager Mr Ross ever hired he was a dear family friend back in the day, because my Dad worked there we always had a dachsund in our home and my parants still has one.

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