California "Firsts" ... Der Wienerschnitzel by George Geary

Der Wienerschnitzel

Opening Date: July 3rd, 1961

Location of first:

900 W. Pacific Coast Highway (at Gulf Avenue)

Wilmington, CA 90744

Currently: Still the first location

How many locations: Over 350 in 10 states and Guam

John Galardi founded the first location:

Current Owner/Parent Company: The Galardi Group Inc.

First location in Wilmington, CA Opened 1961

First location in Wilmington, CA Opened 1961

You could say that food and entrepreneurship started at a young age for John Galardi. In 1961, John started out working for Taco Bell’s (see page 00) founder Glen Bell at his Taco Tia Restaurant in Pasadena. Within a year, John purchased a small plot of land in the industrial port area of Wilmington in Los Angeles county. That was next store to one of Glen’s Taco Bell locations. He knew he had to sell something different, he saw an on slot of hamburger and shake stands, so I thought of the next best American food. Hot Dogs. 


Shortly after opening, the car clubs of the area started using the hot dog stand as their meeting spot for their weekend get together. John realized was tired of the young group in upwards of 100 kids drinking in his parking lot only accounted for about 5% of his business and who knows how many people didn’t come because of the heavy crowds. He rethought his building design and then remodeled it with a drive through where your car drove directly through the building thus the kids didn’t get out of their cars and left with their hot Dogs. The driver’s side of the building housing the kitchen and production areas and the passenger’s side, the storage of raw products and paper products.


The menu was simple. Hot dogs, fries and drinks. Hot dogs were dressed with Galardi’s homemade smooth chili. Orders were taking through a two-way intercom similar to In ‘N Out Hamburger (see page 00) so that the kitchen could start the order before the car arrived to pay. John was environmentally conscientious before his time. Orders were written on the back of the bags that eventually the hot dogs and fries would be placed into. Unlike the McDonalds brothers over in San Bernardino, where they had pre-prepared wrapped food, Galardi felt that it did not take too much time to place the cooked dog into the pre-warmed bun and dressed in sauerkraut, chili, or other condiments. A few “special” dogs made the menu in the early days such as the Super Dog, and Polish Sandwich (Dog) which consisted of a polish sausage split lengthwise and grilled with a pickle wedge between the two halves, placed on a piece of rye bread that has been dressed in spicy mustard and a slice of Swiss cheese, topped with another piece of rye bread. 

Construction on the iconic buildings.. 

Construction on the iconic buildings.. 

Within three years, Der Wienerschnitzel opened 3 locations. John felt that more locations the less the raw goods would cost as he could buy in bulk. His buildings took on an iconic “A” frame look, that of a mountain chalet. The roof, painted “Catsup Red”. Some with a few outdoor seats, and the drive through the building feature. He also added a walk up window. You could see the building before you passed it on the road. In 1965, only 4 years after opening the first Wilmington location, John had 20 locations and had started franchising his concept. Hot dogs with a condiment was only 18 cents. With chili 22 cents. He also rolled out his first motto: “Hamburger lovers are going to the dogs”. It reminds me of the current campaign with a southern chicken company using cows on their billboards “Eat more Chicken”. 1973 brought the end to the “A” frame locations thus creating a dining room and outdoor area with a drive around the entire building. The former drive through did create problems for employees needed stock for the kitchen, having to wait until a car was out of the drive through to get to the other side of the building.

A big change for the company happened in 1975 when hamburgers were added to the menus. Hot dogs are still the main menu item today thou. Der Wiener Dog, a caped masked mascot was introduced in print ads and commercials. Give-a-ways were little plastic dogs and some smaller items.

1977, brought on another change. Dropping “Der” in the company name and shortening the logo. Bringing a change with a big yellow “W” and the name Wienerschnitzel in red below. (Catsup and Mustard colors). TDO (The Delicious One) another mascot was introduced to replace Der Wiener Dog in 1998. This was an upright hot dog with legs, arms and his clothing was the bun. 

You cannot go to a baseball game without eating the Americans pastime, the hot dog. In 1999, Wienerschnitzel became the official dog of Anaheim Stadium home of the Angels baseball team. Dodger Stadium, five years later a deal was struck to be the official hot dog of Petco Park home of the San Diego Padres in their new stadium in downtown San Diego. John Galardi now supplied the hot dogs for the two closest baseball stadiums to his corporate offices. 

To be relevant in the new motor mobile food trucks, in 2001, Weinerschnitzel outfitted a new 40-foot catering wagon that could roll up to any park, party or event at a moment’s notice. They named it “The Wiener Wagon”, it still rolls out around the Los Angeles area today.

In 2003, The Galardi Group acquired the Tastee-Free brand. A soft serve ice cream and shake company. With just a little space and minimal costs, Franchisers started outfitting their locations with the dessert treats. Both brands became an instant success together, since Weinerschnitzel didn’t have milkshakes or desserts prior. 2004, marketing started revving up with localized city dogs such as the New York, The Chicago, the Midwestern and others.   

April 14th, 2013 was a sad day for the company. Their founder John Galardi passed away. He survived by his second wife and four grown children that all work in the company business to this day. They oversee over 350 locations (Corporate and Franchised) in 10 states and Guam with sales of over 120 million hot dogs annually.

September of 2014, The Original Wilmington location was awarded the 1046th Los Angeles Historical Landmark. His entire family was on hand to accept the bronze plaque from the city. During the event, his children stated that the company has just begun and will be massively expanding eastward.

Galardi Group Inc.

7700 Irvine Center Drive #550

Irvine, CA 92618



Currently the First Location

Currently the First Location

The Brown Derby... Paprika Chicken by George Geary

The Brown Derby. One of the iconic historical Los Angeles landmarks gone... The Wilshire location (across from the Ambassador Hotel) was the only one that was in the shape of a derby.. Here is a recipe for the Paprika Chicken. It was served on the menu only once a week.

Paprkia Chicken


Take a look at my cookbooks (9 now.. next year will be 10!). Cookbooks

Also, my France 2014 has only a few limited spots left! Tours

See you in class, on TV or on a tour soon! 

How It All Started.. 1969 by George Geary

1969 was a great year.. 2012 not so good for Hostess Bakery Products.

Every class I teach I get someone asking.. "How did you get your start" or "When did you know you wanted to be a pastry chef?" It was 1969. One of the first field trips was to the Interstate Baking Co. It seemed like we spent all day there. I recall bringing my lunch and we all got to taste donuts hot off the line. We even each got an entire bag of the powdered gems to take home. That was a huge bag of donuts! Ah I was hooked. I recall watching the twinkies get the injection on the bottom of the tube of sponge cake and the cups cakes getting one center injection and then the top icing, Oh dont forget the 7 swirls on each cupcakes.. I was told 7 swirls mendt that the baked fresh daily. Its not easy seeing an iconic brand taken away. When I would stop for gas I would sometime grab a cupcake or honeybun.  After seeing the plant.. I knew I wanted to be a baker. Everone was so happy and loved the excitement of pastry! 

Hostess Product By Debut Year

1931: Wonder Bread (Helps Build Strong Bodies in 12 Ways) 

1930: Twinkies (Originally with a Banana Creme Filling)

1947: Snow Balls (Normally Pink or White, but in March Green)

1950: Cupcakes (My Favorite)

1961: Suzi Q's

1965: Fruit Pies (Apple, Lemon, Berry, Peach, Chocolate)

1967: HoHo's (Three little cake rolls)

!985: Cinnamon Coffee Cakes


Will they come back? Humm  I hope so. 


Smiles Service Samples… The Three “S’s” by George Geary

See’s Candy makes it the fourth!

The three S’s has been a motto for years. If you have ever walked into the See’s candy stores around the west you will always see a older lady in a black and white picture on the wall. That’s Mary, mother of the founder Charles. After his father had passed in 1919 in Canada, his mother Mary came out Pasadena to live with he and his wife Florence.  462 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, CA.


Charles started experimenting with his mothers candy recipes. Some of the original candies are still sold today. Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Victoria Toffee, Hand Dipped Bon Bons and Maple Walnut Creams.


Researching where the first candy factory/store was I found the address. 135 North Western, Los Angeles, CA. Close to the old Bullocks Wilshire. They first had Indian then Harley's outfitted special for delivery of the boxed chocolates. The driver looked a little bit like a off-duty LAPD officer.

Checking on google.maps I found it was still there and the conservancy was trying to have the city grant it historical status. Looking at the building I was saddened. I thought that if it was still standing I could maybe take pictures and send them to the CEOs office to get them to save it from the wrecking ball. (The owners wanted to put a strip mall in).

Here is the dilapidated building from google.maps. May 2011. You can see the decorative "tooth" work above the windows and those 4 windows how they curve in at the top.  

The other day I drove past the address to find what I was expecting to be a torn down building as nothing in the news stated that the city had grated historical status. I found to my surprise a Tom N Tom Coffee. It’s one of the largest coffee houses in Korea. They had taken the entire two-floor building and converted it about 3 months ago. I still would love to see a plaque outside of it. One of my favorite things of Europe is that where ever you walk they have plaques saying what happen at that site or who lived at the location etc…

2009: LA Times Article to designate the building a landmark


2012: Fortune Article on Warren Buffett and See's