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The famous hot doggery has set its sights on Las Vegas' Red Rock Resort
Venerable wiener purveyor Pink’s Hot Dogs — an establishment which commands hours-long lines at its iconic flagship location in Hollywood — is planning to open its second Las Vegas location at Red Rocks Resort this winter. The first Sin City outpost opened at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops in 2009, offering a much-needed more affordable option to the city’s notoriously expensive eateries.
This Pink’s will replace Turf Grill, a 2,000-square-foot space location adjacent to the casino’s poker room and race and sports book. As for what Pink’s fans can expect, the menu features many of the same signature items found in the Planet Hollywood restaurant, including the classic chili dog, Guadalajara Dog, and chili cheese fries.
Launched in 1939, the chain is popular with celebrities of all statures and has been featured in countless movies and TV shows and commercials. There are even several franks named after some of their famous fans, like the "Martha Stewart Dog" with with mustard, relish, onions, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, bacon, and sour cream.
Pink's Hot Dogs
In 1939, when Betty and Paul Pink borrowed $50 to buy a hot-dog cart, the couple never could have imagined they had just started a Hollywood institution. But soon after its founding -- when hot dogs sold for 10 cents each and drinks cost a nickel -- the business became so successful that the duo traded in their cart for a small building (constructed in the same spot the cart had previously occupied). Today, nearly 70 years later, the business is still family owned and operated, and serves up to 2,000 hot dogs daily (an average of about one dog per second) to everyone from locals to tourists to international glitterari.
According to Gloria Pink, Paul and Betty&aposs daughter-in-law, producer-mogul Aaron Spelling and the cast of the "West Wing" regularly ordered Pink&aposs hot dogs for delivery to their sets, and passers-by are willing to wait in line for up to 45 minutes to place their orders for guacamole-topped hot dogs, bacon dogs, jalapeno dogs, or old-fashioned chili dogs (the latter a favorite of Orson Welles, who holds the record for most chili dogs consumed in a single sitting: 18). In honor of Martha&aposs visit, Pink&aposs added another delicious dog to the menu: the Martha Stewart -- a 10-inch frankfurter topped with mustard, relish, tomato, onion, sauerkraut, bacon, and sour cream.
Pink's Hot Dogs began with a $50 roll cart
The history of Pink's Hot Dogs dates back to 1939, notes the eatery's website, when unemployed couple Paul and Betty Pink became frustrated they couldn't find work. "Since nobody could give them a job, they decided to go into the hot dog business and become entrepreneurs," their son, Richard Pink, told Discover Hollywood.
After paying $50 for a roll cart they saw in a local newspaper's classified ads, the couple started selling hot dogs on the corner of La Brea and Melrose, renting the piece of land for $15 a month. In 1941, the landlord demanded a hefty rent increase, to $25 a month. Rather than agree, the Pinks instead got a bank loan for $4,000 and purchased the land outright.
In those early days, noted Richard Pink, they were "lucky to sell 50 to 100 hot dogs a day." But as the neighborhood developed around them, the business grew, eventually becoming a local landmark.
According to Pink's, 100% of the proceeds from sales of the hot dog for the next three days will be donated to the Tom LaBonge Griffith Park Memorial Fund.
People who want to make a donation directly to the fund can visit www.laparksfoundation.org/donations/donate/.
“If there were a LA Hall of Fame, Tom would surely be inducted,” Pink's Hot Dogs wrote in a Twitter post.
Pink’s is celebrating the life of Tom LaBonge 2day at noon by debuting the Tom LaBonge “Mr. Los Angeles” Hot Dog. We r donating 100% of the proceeds of sale 4 3 days 2 the Tom LaBonge Griffith Park Memorial Fund. If there were a LA Hall of Fame, Tom would surely be inducted. pic.twitter.com/5z8Z1cJgjf
&mdash Pink's Hot Dogs (@pinkshotdogs) March 12, 2021
LaBonge was known for his outsized personality, reflected in his deep knowledge of high school football teams, penchant for big hugs and love of classic Los Angeles institutions, including Pink's Hot Dogs, along with his hands-on approach to serving constituents.
We Eat Every Hot Dog at Pink's in Hollywood
Not since last summer's Hot Doug's excursion has a group of Serious Eaters so challenged the very fabric of what we know to be humanly possible. On that fateful day, a football team of eaters met at Chicago's most famous sausage superstore to try every single item on the menu. Not to be outdone, Los Angeles has taken up the challenge with our own snappy hot dog destination.
Recently a group of hardcore masticators set about trying every single hot dog on the menu at Pink's Famous Hot Dogs in Hollywood. For those uninitiated to the Pink's hot dog legacy, the 73-year old stand on the corner of Melrose and La Brea serves up everything from basic chili cheese dogs to double-dogs stuffed into a single bun, weighed down with guacamole, chili, cheese, onions, tomatoes, pastrami, bacon. you name it.
Mind you, the Serious Eats Chicago team seemed to whimper in fear at the idea of nearly 30 menu items. Pink's, on the other hand, boasts 39 different hot dog combinations (39!), plus five HLOs (Hotdog Like Objects) that contain at least one frank. Oh, and there were only six of us.
First, the dogs. The Pink's purveyor of choice is Hoffy, a regional all-beef frank manufacturer. They even sell a 'Hollywood's Original' package of five dogs that you can grill up right at home. Or steam, as Pink's does with all of their beef. other options include their thick, stubby Polish dogs (in both spicy and mild), plus a gargantuan jalapeño dog that measures a foot long and at roughly two inches thick. On the milder side of things, there is both a tofu or turkey dog option as well, although these certainly aren't recommended.
The potential toppings run the gamut from sensible (roughage, veggies, chili, cheese) to outrageous (cole slaw, pastrami, bacon, guacamole, tortilla chips). Some, of course, are better than others, but nearly all of them work in some combination across the 40+ item spectrum.
One note: if you're not a fan of chili on your dogs, you'll be down to less than half the menu. Chili is in abundance at Pink's, and the next time you visit you'll probably leave with more than a little bit on your clothes.
There are also a few different ways to order. There's the traditional side of things, with bacon chili cheese dogs and the like, and then there is the ever-evolving pile of ClipArt signs that are plastered across the front windows. Nearly every dog is outrageous in some way, and most are named after Hollywood notables like Marlon Brando or even Mulholland Drive. Or, you can order one of the specials, which usually involves wrapping hot dogs in giant flour tortillas (more on that in the slideshow).
Much like at Hot Doug's, the team thought it best to call ahead and let Pink's know of our intentions. Beyond the logistics of waiting in line, preparing each dog and timing out the order effectively, with more than 40 items, there is the simple issue of space.
Miraculously, the Pink family actually came out to witness our epic eating. According to owners Richard and Gloria Pink, ours is the only group to ever tackle the entire hot dog menu in a single sitting, although rumor has it that Orson Welles once ate 18 chili dogs in a single sitting, which is its own kind of record. The family was very kind to provide us with a staging area for all of our dogs, and they even offered up a few Pink's hats to wear while we chowed down. Much like Chicago's Doug Sohn, the Pink family couldn't have been more accommodating.
Pink's Hot Dogs Expand Nationally
From a humble beachhead established in Hollywood more than seven decades ago, the storied hot-dog institution Pink’s is slating a national expansion.
“ We are getting inquiries from licensees nationally. Typically, from operators in airports, amusement parks, casinos, cruise ships, stadiums, or open-air entertainment centers such as Universal City,” say Gloria Pink, Co-Owner.
“ We have perfected the product and service, and the brand-name is becoming famous nationally.”
Pink’s has been loved by generations of stars and movieland denizens, operating from its now-iconic location at Melrose and La Brea in the heart of Hollywood.
From Alec Baldwin to Adam Sandler to Bill Cosby to Jay Leno, celebrities have braved long lines with commoners to get such only-at-Pink’s creations as the Martha Stewart Dog (named for the creator), the Ozzy Osbourne Dog, the Lord of the Rings Dog, or the Three Dog Night (three dogs in giant tortilla).
On a good day, more than 2,000 hot dogs are downed at Pink’s, and the ordering line stretches for a block.
With 30 varieties of hot dogs (and 12 types of hamburgers) patrons keep coming back.
Pink’s hot dogs are especially beloved for their natural casings, which “snap” when bitten into, bursting with proprietary flavors and spices.
The late Hollywood kingpin Aaron Spelling once told The New York Times he didn’t like Pink’s hot dogs much, and so ate there only “three times a week.”
Pink’s is never out of style—for example, the regular opening montage to the CBS late night talk show “Craig Ferguson” features a shot of Pink’s. The original hot-dog stand also recently hosted an entire episode of the “America’s Next Top Model” show, moderated by Tyra Banks.
In recent years, under tight quality control and with limited publicity, Gloria Pink along with her husband, Richard, and sister-in-law, Beverly, have presided over a seven-location expansion, establishing outlets at Harrah's Rincon Hotel & Casino near San Diego, CA Knott's Berry Farm in Orange County, CA Los Angeles International Airport the Hollywood Park Casino near Los Angeles Planet Hollywood Hotel in Las Vegas, Universal City Walk in Los Angeles and the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.
In addition, there are several seasonal stands, including the Greek Theater in Los Angeles the Los Angeles County Fair the San Diego County Fair the Ventura County Fair the Orange County Fair and the Southern California Fair.
The new locations have shined, and other venues are clamoring to license their own Pink’s.
“ The controlled expansion is extremely successful, and has proven the right operators can bring Pink’s quality to a larger audience,” says Pink.
To preserve exacting standards, Pink’s selectively licenses to experienced companies that have 500 or more employees within their food-and-beverage divisions, currently operate several restaurants, and who can adhere to strict, licensed operating procedures. The licensees will operate and staff the new Pink’s.
Though a national expansion has begun, the essence of the Pink’s hot dog remains in family hands, through the Pinks.
“ Pink’s hot dogs are a family tradition, always sustained by quality and Pink’s unique creations. People won’t stand in a long line for a hot dog unless it is really, really good,” Pink says.
While amusement parks are probably first up to bat, Pink is high on stadiums, large hotels, casinos, and cruise ships as well.
“ As to stadiums and arenas, every sports fan in the country deserves the sheer luxury of booing the visitors while biting into a snapping Pink’s hot dog,” she says.
The success of the new Pink’s in the Cedar Point Amusement Park, in Ohio, was particularly heartening, say Pink.
“ That proved beyond doubt that Pink’s hot dogs and creations were not just a regional fling, but a national love affair. We are ready for the national stage.”
The growing Pink’s empire is a long way from its humble beginnings, a success story itself worthy of celluloid immortalization.
In 1939 on the streets of Hollywood the founders, Betty and Paul Pink, bought a rolling hot dog cart with $50 of borrowed money.
A friendly hardware store owner let the pair plug the cart into his electrical outlets. The original Pink’s sold out almost daily at 10-cents a dog.
The Pink elders erected the original permanent stand—the same one standing today—in the jubilant postwar Hollywood of 1946, with $4,000 borrowed from the Bank of America.
Nearby, such movie-studio goliaths as Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. provided plenty of customers—think Spencer Tracy or Howard Hughes—alongside war-time workers and returning sailors and soldiers.
In the intervening decades since, Pink's hot dogs have almost become a cliché for movie “wrap” parties and serving television show audiences including the Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, and Martha Stewart shows, and the ABC show, The View.
Movieland legends abound about Pink’s film titan Orson Welles holds the record for eating the most Pink’s hot dogs in one sitting—18—while Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s counter.
In postwar Hollywood, movie actors searching for work began posting their 8-inch-by-10-inch “headshots” on Pink’s walls, a tradition still ongoing.
In addition, Pink’s has more than 200 photos on its dining-room wall, personally signed to Pink’s by entertainment celebrities.
Pink’s was famous decades ago in Southern California, but in the era of cable television the hot-dog stand gained international notoriety from producers who drove by and saw the perennial long lines and film-world buzz.
Hungry to fill airtime, producers have done one cable-TV segment after another on Pink’s for entertainment, food, and travel networks around the world.
A notation on Pink’s became de rigueur in city guidebooks or restaurant review publications and websites. It may be the most famous single hot-dog stand in the nation.
As much as the staple of Pink’s—the hot dog in a bun—has stayed the same over the decades, in other ways it is evolving.
New varieties of hot dogs are regularly introduced at the original Pink’s, making the stand a constant laboratory where hot-dog frontiers are bravely explored.
Where else can one dine on an expertly prepared Polish Pastrami Reuben Dog, or Planet Hollywood Dog replete with Polish Sausage, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, bacon & cheese, or a 12-inch-long, thick sausage filled with jalapenos?
The full history of the hot dog is still being recorded, adds Gloria Pink.
“ It has been written by the most erudite of hot-dog historians that the Frankfurters of Germany gave us this king-staple of foods five years before Columbus set sail for America, “ Pink says.
“ We have been working at making the hot dog better for more than 70 years—and now, like a Hot-Dog Columbus, we are also setting out for America!”
Pink’s Hot Dogs Expands - Recipes
Some people say this place is overrated. I tell these people, "You're crazy." The lines are usually long, but the wait is never TOO long for one of these babies :) I agree w/ your rating! This is a place where I always take out-of-towners who are visiting me when I'm in LA.
more than an hr wait. hmm. have to try this place when i go to LA on October.
Pink's SUCKS! I was in California on vacation and made a trip to Pink's. What did I get for my 90 minute wait in line. FOOD POISONING! I was sick as heck for 3 days--with lingering affects after that. Even worse, the food wasnt that good. Low grade hot dogs with chili---nothing more than you could do at home on your own.
I brought so many friends there already,
It's a fun place for people from other places to see!
There's always something interesting around the neighborhood,
Last time I saw people shooting a film or something while I was in the line for some hot dogs!
Sorry about your food poisoning,
Sometimes I go to Pink's not only for its food,
Just the atmosphere, it's so "hollywood," so "LA-like,"
It's a fun place to go!
Hey Anonymous #1 - I also got FOOD POISONING at Pink's! I went there in October 2008 on a Friday evening. Woke up in the wee hours of Saturday morning with a terrible case of food poisoning. Couldn't leave my hotel room for 2 days, and was weak and not quite right for 2-3 days after that. I informed Pink's and the owner was nice as can be - offered me free Pink's for life and apologized over and over. But she said I was the only person who reported such a thing - that night, or really ever. I have not been able to bring myself to eat a hotdog since, never mind a chilidog. It was not very good food in the first place - I leftover 1/5 of my dog and was unimpressed.
The last 2 anonymous are cry babies. I've been eating at Pink's since infancy and I have never experienced food poisoning from eating their food. If you're in town try it. It's the ultimate Hollywood experience. If you don't like it i'm sure the millions they've served won't miss you. If it's good enough for every crew Tom Hanks has ever worked with it's good enough for me.
A big hit! Laced with onions, peppers, two kinds of cheese and watery slices of jalapeño, the frank is then topped with vibrant guacamole. The final standing tortilla chips are supposed to represent the sails of the ship that brought L.A. Philharmonic composer Gustavo Dudamel to the United States. Good thing for us, they also supply some crunch. All combined, the mild jalapeño heat, the cool guacamole, the tasty sautéed veggies and the crisp tortilla chips make for one of the day's favorite dogs.
Obviously named after the TV cooking maven, the Giada dog is basically pizza on a hot dog. The 10" stretch dog gets piled with sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and a mound of shredded mozzarella, because why not? While it's definitely cheese overload, you could find a pretty serviceable dog underneath the dairy blanket if you took the time and had a few napkins nearby.
It’s not ideal — as many businesses know — but Pink was just happy to start serving hot dogs again.
Pink said he’s been able to hold on to all of them — some who have been working there for years.
“We’re finding a position for everybody,” he said.
Pink’s is re-opening in a relatively optimistic pandemic-era moment compared to the post-holiday, surge-humbled days of January.
On its last day of business back in January, the county had reported 11,513 new cases and climbing. Morgues and mortuaries were filling up. Hospitals ICUs were strapped. And the future was unclear, complicated by a shaky vaccine rollout.
And still, on that last day, Jan. 3, business was buzzing at the La Brea eatery, as the loyal got their last chance at a “Magic” Mushroom Burger or a 9″ Stretch Chili Dog and some vintage soda pop, to boot.
Flash forward to now: On Wednesday, cautiously hopeful public health officials reported declining case rates and hospitalizations.
Eateries were already in dire straits after the county closed outdoor dining just days before Thanksgiving. Indeed, Pink’s itself closed down before during the pandemic, for several months, before reopening and then closing again.
Such public health orders have irked many business owners and leaders, who have urged officials from the state to the county to allow them to remain open.
But Pink was not taking a defiant approach.
The threshold, Pink said, was just making sure employees and customers were safe.
“The number one goal here is safety,” he said. “If we’re not safe, customers won’t come. If the restaurant starts to generate a reputation of not caring, customers won’t come. You can talk about it being a moral issue, but it’s also a business issue. The smart way to conduct your business is to make it as safe as possible.”
Safe and consistent, he said.
Somehow, Pink’s itself has managed to stay consistent over the decades, always in the L.A. zeitgeist.
It stayed opened during World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, recessions and more…
Given that longevity, don’t expect much to change as things open up again — beyond the masks, the scrubdowns and the physical distancing.
In trendy L.A., Pink’s banks on a certain consistency. And after a year of COVID-19, expect more of the same.
“There are people who come to Pink’s, and before they arrive they have a taste in their mouth about what they want,” Pink said. “People want to return to what is normal … what is predictable.”