Dog Gone
August 22, 2011 4:37 PM   Subscribe

The Doggie Diner was the name of a Bay Area chain of burger joints that had its heyday in the '60s and '70s. The last remaining restaurant in the Chain was located at the corner of 46th and Sloat in San Francisco, CA. Even after the place became a restaurant with a new name ("Carousel") the giant Fiberglass dachshund head remained as a piece of nostalgia until a storm toppled it on April 1st, 2001. The head was relocated in January 2005 to the median of Sloat Boulevard and became San Francisco city landmark #254. Now the restaurant itself is slated for demolition.

Western Neighborhoods Project founder Woody LaBounty has a short video on the Dachshund head.
posted by MattMangels (32 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
No link to

These heads show up at events all over the Bay Area. Most recently I saw them at the Maker Faire. I also saw them at a Polkacide show a few years ago and apparently they used to go out to Burning Man.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

There is also a float that goes along with the St Stupid's Day Parade (on Apr 1 of each year) that has 3 of them. It's nice to know where that came from.
posted by sacrifix at 4:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think I saw them at an Ace Auto Dismantler's fundraiser, too, which was (past tense, alas) an institution that deserves its own front page post, if I could just figure out how to manage it. Confession: I am afraid of front page posting.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:57 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also Zippy the Pinhead likes to talk to the Doggie Diner head, as I recall.
posted by silby at 4:57 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, I loved that place when I was a kid. A trip to the zoo was also a trip to the Doggie Diner. Those dog heads are an indellible part of my internal landscape.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:58 PM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

One of the abandoned diner heads, all by itself in an overgrown field on the way to I-5, was a fixture of car trips during my Bay Area childhood. Thanks for solving the mystery.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:59 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I only just saw that head for the first time the other day. Creepy.

Thanks for cluing me in.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:02 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by silby at 5:03 PM on August 22, 2011

Zippy strip that (I assume) references the Doggie Diner dachsunds' trip across America (second link is to the documentary about it called "Head Trip").
posted by small_ruminant at 5:10 PM on August 22, 2011

Pecinpah, a major reason why I made this post is that I think to myself sometimes when I see that dog head, "man, people that aren't from here must think that's the weirdest and most random thing." Thought I'd shed some light on it.*

*The joke here is that being located right next to the ocean this part of town is almost continually covered in fog this time of year.
posted by MattMangels at 5:11 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I was a little kid I always wanted to eat at the Doggie Diner (because, awesome!). However my parents always said no, they said the food was terrible. How could they know, I thought, because they never ate there! No place with that amazing figure could be bad! Like Bob's Big Boy! Awesome! My parents. No fun.

Incidentally I happened to visit an antique yard in Acton the other day that has a large collection of Bob's Big Boy statues. I felt like they were watching me as I wandered around the yard.

Now I really want a cheeseburger.
posted by zomg at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I miss them! Used to go there all the time as a kid.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:14 PM on August 22, 2011

My Mom And Step-dad loved the place, but they believed in treats and fun. The food was probably bad for you if you were to eat it all the time but as a treat it was good.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:18 PM on August 22, 2011

There are Doggie Diner concession stands at AT&T Park (where the SF Giants play baseball) and I noticed the stands all have a small Doggie Diner head clock above their concession window. It had me wondering if the Sloat location was still open. I used to stop there on my way back into SF on bike rides down the Peninsula.
posted by vanderwal at 5:25 PM on August 22, 2011

Another mystery solved here, too. I've seen the one in Ocean Beach while riding MUNI. It's really kind of surreal and de-contextualized.

Granted, this is San Francisco so I just shrugged and thought "Hey, it's San Francisco." and went about my day. There is/was an art installation somewhere in SOMA or near Portrero Hill that was basically an entire apartment's worth of furniture frozen in time in the act of being defenestrated and spilling down the side of the building, so random, surreal giant fiberglass doggie head wearing a chef's outfit and installed at a transit station is par for the course.
posted by loquacious at 5:41 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

loquacious, you are thinking of a building on 6th street. (The site I linked to appears to be down at the moment but later you might want to try it.)
posted by MattMangels at 5:47 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

zomg my parents also refused to patronize Doggie Diner. They definitely had the greatest sign ever if you were a six-year old.
posted by bukvich at 5:59 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is a Doggie Diner head in San Jose at the Bascom Avenue Streetlight Records.

I fondly remember an early 80's episode of Evening Magazine where the high-class, enigmatic restaurant reviewer the Phantom Diner hid in a Doggie Diner to avoid someone trying to reveal his identity; he gave the DD a good review, from what I recall. Ah, local television...
posted by JDC8 at 6:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

My Grandparents lived in San Leandro when I was growing up, and there was a Doggie Diner off Hesperian (I think). As a 6 year old, prone to carsickness, stuck in the backseat of a Civic hatchback, the 40 minutes or so it took to get from San Jose to San Leandro was hell. That giant dog head was like a beacon of hope. It signified that we were almost to Grandma's house, where I would get all the hard candy I wanted to make my poor tummy feel better. The first time I realized the head was gone, I cried- I never realized how much a silly fiberglass head meant to me.

I think that Doggie Diner is a Starbucks now.

posted by dogmom at 9:20 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for 'Defenestration'! I needed a good laugh and it reminds me of the cosmic hissy-fit I always wanted to throw.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:28 PM on August 22, 2011

The Doggie Diner on 46th Ave/Sloat was definitely an integral part of a trip to the zoo in my youth. We'd take the L Taravel on the old green trains with the leather strap-handles.
posted by trip and a half at 9:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Who knew so many MeFites grew up in San Francisco..?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:53 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Defenstration, previously.

I used to go to the Zoo a LOT because it was the favorite spot of a kid I hung out with. We always had to say hi to the doggie head.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:55 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have requested the mods to make a correction; the head toppled on April 1st, 2001. The WNP article is incorrect. Also, amazingly, the dog head has its own Yelp page.
posted by MattMangels at 1:29 AM on August 23, 2011

Me too! Whenever we drove past the Doggie Diner on 19th & Junipero Serra, my little brother and I would shout "Doggie Diner!" But we never got to eat there.
posted by moonmilk at 6:31 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

another one here for loved the sign as a kid, never ate there.. This is tying in nicely with the 'You know you grew up in SF if..' thing on FB !
posted by rollerball at 7:13 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent. In Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It let's us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.

*unveils giant fiberglass dachshund head*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:52 AM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yes, that's the one, moonmilk! My cousins lived up in the hills under Sutro Tower so we would go by that one on the way to visit. I grew up in San Ho.

Wait, you and your little brother ... are you my cousin?
posted by zomg at 8:51 AM on August 23, 2011

When I moved to SF in 1979, my apartment was on Great Hwy & Wawona, just around the corner from Doggie Diner. That big head was part of my daily life. I'm glad it's been saved.
posted by Sassenach at 3:36 PM on August 23, 2011

I only just saw that head for the first time the other day. Creepy.

I grew up ~3 blocks from the Sloat Doggie Diner and that doggie head was a great source of childhood comfort to me. I was afraid of police, ambulance & fire engine sirens but LOVED Doggie Diner french fries. To comfort me, my dad would tell me that the police/fire/ambulance people loved Doggie Diner as much as I did and put on their sirens so that they could get there faster. For me, the Doggie Diner head is an icon of my childish innocence and sense of safety. I am aware of it's creepiness (lasciviously leering daschund in chefs hat = unsettling) a yet the comforting sense of nostalgia is never that far away.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:31 PM on August 23, 2011

Thanks for this, it feels like I'm ten again.

I went back home in December 2009 and we drove around Treasure Island where I came across this!

I had to spend the next hour trying to explain (a) what those were and (b) why they were so awesome.

It's also a great litmus test for a true native: "What was across the street from the zoo?".
posted by geckoinpdx at 7:44 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used up my one Doggie Diner memory (really the same memory repeated about a hundred times), so how about that A&W hamburger stand? With the big gas fireplace in the middle? We'd always clamor to sit by the fire.
posted by moonmilk at 8:01 AM on August 24, 2011

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