Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Richard Pink tells Pink’s History to Rotary

Richard Pink shared the Pink's Hotdogs story with the Wilshire Rotary this month
Richard Pink shared the Pink’s Hot Dogs story with the Wilshire Rotary this month

It all started with a $50 loan from his grandmother, explained Richard Pink, telling the story of Pink’s Hot Dogs, his family’s world famous hot dog stand, to a captivated luncheon crowd of Rotarians this month at the Ebell of Los Angeles.

In 1939, according to Pink, his parents Paul and Betty Pink were looking through the local newspaper, the Citizen News, for jobs when Betty came across an advertisement for a hot dog cart for sale for $50. Betty convinced her mother to loan her the $50, she bought the cart on La Cienega Blvd., and then walked it all the way to La Brea and Melrose where she had arranged to rent a space on a dirt-filled site next door to the Atlantic Richfield gas station for $15 a month.

The Pinks chose to buy their hot dogs from food supplier Hoffy (which still supplies the dogs today), then realized they needed electricity to run the cart. A nearby hardware store offered to let them plug into the store’s electric outlet if they bought a 200-foot-long extension cord. They did, and operated the business that way for the next two years, selling hot dogs for 10 cents and Cokes for 5 cents, with curb-side service.

In 1941, the Pinks’ rent doubled. Paul and Betty decided they needed purchase the land so they could control their costs, or they might have to go out of business. Back in those days, local bankers had a lot of discretion to make loans. A banker at the local Bank of America agreed to give them a $4,000 loan, based on his “enthusiasm and faith” in the Pinks and their business. This story was told in a commercial made for a Bank of America advertising campaign in 2011.

“My parents were very conservative,” said Richard Pink. They made him go to college and get and education before he got involved in the family business. Pink has an undergraduate degree from UCLA, an MBA from USC, and a law degree from Loyola. “That’s what it takes to run a hot dog stand today,” joked Pink.  Clearly, he is doing something right as the next generation to take over the family business — the average tenure of his 30 employee staff is 25-30 years.

Pink is always trying to come up with something new to get people to come back and stand in line.  In fact, that line is probably even more iconic than the Pink’s signage. There are lots of stories about people who meet standing in line. Most customers tell Pink they enjoy the line. “It’s like a party,” he said.  According to Pink, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s and Brad Pitt was “kidnapped” from Pink’s.

Celebrities who make Pink’s a “must stop” on their trips to LA are frequently spotted. Some even have their own hot dogs…including Giada De Laurentiis, Martha Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Kim Kardashian, Rosie O’Donnell, Patt Morrison, Emeril Legasse and more. First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by with her daughters and her mother one day.

Last July, James Corden stopped by to work a day at the stand. The sketch includes Pink’s wife Gloria and his sister, Beverly Pink, who do their best to manage Corden’s mischief.

Today,  Pink’s serves between 1500-2000 hot dogs a day. There are more than 35 hot dogs and 12 burgers on the menu. About 40% of their sales is the classic chili dog, with mustard, chili and onions.

There are also Pink’s franchises, mostly at amusement parks like Universal City Walk.  This allowed Pink to build on the successful branding they have done over the years, which has made Pink’s iconic in popular culture.

To stay true to the brand, Pink says he eats about 5 hot dogs a week.

“I’ve got to taste them,” he said. “I grew up on this food and I have to make sure it still tastes good.”

The Wilshire Rotary’s weekly meeting at the Ebell always features a speaker. New members are welcome. Visit Wilshire Rotary Club of Los Angeles for more information.


Pink's Hot Dogs various stands over the years
Pink’s Hot Dogs various stands over the years
Rotarians Sandy Boeck, Elsa Gilham and Ray Schulendfrie welcome Richard Pink
Rotarians Sandy Boeck, Elsa Gilham and Ray Schulendfrei (on right) welcome Richard Pink to the weekly Rotary luncheon at the Ebell of Los Angeles.

Pink’s Hot Dogs
709 N. La Brea Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tel. (323) 931-4223
Daily Hours: Sunday – Thursday 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.
Friday & Saturdays 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 a.m.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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