Countless Celebrities Have Eaten at Pink’s Hot Dog Stand
Pink’s Hot Dog Stand, a Hollywood legend since 1939, has served its famous hot dogs to Hollywood celebrities, television personalities, struggling musicians, residents of Los Angeles, and tourists from all over the world! Pink’s is perhaps the most famous hot dog stand in the country, and certainly in Los Angeles.
What has made Pink’s a cultural phenomenon? Its 83-year history of still being owned and operated by the Pink family, its menu with 40 varieties of photogenic hot dogs, its “Celebrity Wall of Fame” with over 200 signed photos of the rich and famous who have dined there, its open kitchen frontage facing the sidewalk that allows the aroma of steaming hot dogs and buns to waft out to the long lines of customers in front, its late-night crowd who savors hot dogs every night until midnight and until 2:00 a.m. on weekends, and its friendly staff members, most of whom have worked at Pink’s for over 25 years.
The colorful outdoor patio offers plentiful seating and many opportunities for fun photos and social media postings. It’s no surprise that Pink’s fame prompted the Los Angeles City Council to designate the nearby intersection of La Brea and Melrose as “Pink’s Square” with the following inscription: “Pink’s Hot Dog Stand. Founded in 1939 with a pushcart by Paul & Betty Pink. Now a Los Angeles Icon.”
Richard Pink, president of Pink's, answers our questions about the popular food establishment.
Can you share a little bit about the journey that it took to establish Pink’s as an iconic place?
In 1939, the founders of Pink’s, Paul and Betty Pink, who were just in their 20s at the time, borrowed 50 dollars from Betty’s mother to buy a small hot dog cart and set it up on a rental property near the corner of La Brea and Melrose in Hollywood. This was their first venture together as husband and wife.
Betty purchased the cart and then wheeled it three miles to its new location while Paul cleared the unpaved lot of weeds to wait for the cart. Since the cart was electric, Paul had to buy a 100-yard extension cord to plug into a friendly neighbor’s outlet; and that’s how the Pinks fired up the cart for the first two years. In those days, Betty and Paul were lucky to sell 50 hot dogs a day, compared to today’s sales of 1,500 hot dogs a day.
In 1941, after two years in business, the landlord raised the rent from 15 dollars a month to 25 dollars a month, a 67 percent increase. The Pinks could not afford this increase, but they heard they could buy the property for 4,000 dollars. However, they had no collateral for a loan. No matter, Bank of America took a risk on this enterprising young couple and loaned them the money to buy the property. Besides, the bank manager, whose office was across the street, loved eating lunch at Pink’s every day.
In the early years, the Pinks remember serving hot dogs to World War II servicemen and some wannabe movie stars at their sidewalk cart.
Finally, in 1946, they borrowed the money to build the hot dog stand that sits on the site today. Thereafter, some of their famous customers included Howard Hughes, Spencer Tracy, and Orson Welles. In fact, Orson Welles holds the all-time record for the most hot dogs eaten at one sitting–18! Later, Pink’s celebrity clientele included performers such as Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando. Bruce Willis even proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s. Some Hollywood writers have said that Pink’s is to Hollywood like the Statue of Liberty is to New York.
How were the names of the hot dogs on the menu selected?
Pink’s patrons include many famous chefs who have created their own eponymous hot dogs exclusively for Pink’s. These include Martha Stewart, Giada De Laurentiis, and Emeril Lagasse. There are also hot dogs named after football teams that have brought their players to Pink’s, including the LAFC soccer team and the LA Chargers.
Famous celebrities who have dined at Pink’s and had hot dogs named after them include Betty White, Drew Barrymore, Marlon Brando, Carl Reiner, Rosie O’Donnell, and Ed Asner.
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How do you feel when people come to visit your location?
Our staff and our family treat our customers like guests in our home. We cherish every customer’s visit because we know they have many restaurant choices. The fact that they select Pink’s is an honor.
What is your vision for Pink’s in the next five years?
Pink’s is the quintessential Hollywood experience. It is Paul and Betty’s legacy.
Pink’s hot dog and chili recipe is the same as it was in 1939. Pink’s is a constant. It is the family’s north star and, in many ways, the city’s north star. The only changes at Pink’s over the next five years will be some new hot dog creations on the menu, some updated photos on the celebrity wall, and visits by customers that have never been to Pink’s before. The important character traits of Pink’s are consistency of food, dependability of long-term staff, and the fact that we never to compromise on the food quality and friendliness of service.
As comedian Jerry Lewis once said to Paul Pink, “Don’t change a thing. You are making a few bucks. Just leave it the way it is”.
What would like people to know about you?
Although Pink’s is a family-run business operated by my wife, Gloria Pink, my sister, Beverly Pink-Wolfe, and me, you may want to know more about me as President. By way of background, I have a B.S. Degree from UCLA, an MBA from USC and a JD law degree from Loyola. That is what it takes to run a hot dog stand today.
I want Betty and Paul Pink to be remembered for their dedication, passion, and hard work in founding and operating Pink’s for over 50 years. This is why our family is so proud of the dedication of “Pink’s Square.”
I want to be remembered for commemorating my parent’s legacy by continuing the pride they took in the quality of the food and service, the support they gave to Pink’s long-term staff, our many contributions to charity, and Pink’s commitment to represent the best that Los Angeles has to offer to its residents and visitors.
What is your message for our Heart Of Hollywood Magazine readers?
If you enjoy fun experiences, hot dogs, an original atmosphere, and making special memories, then come to Pink’s, “the little hot dog stand that could”!
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