Remembering Doggie Diner
Doggie Diner (1949-1986) is arguably the most dearly departed restaurant chain in the city with the best afterlife. We were young when it closed, but we remember that it was cute enough to form a lifelong attachment.
Steve Greenberg/San Francisco Examiner, 1999
Three of Doggie Diner's iconic Harold Bachman-designed dachsund heads took a road trip to New York in 2003, courtesy of Laughing Squid and SF Cyclecide Bike Rodeo. The experience was immortalized in a documentary called Head Trip.
It sounds like founder Al Ross had a pretty full and exciting life as well. SFGate's obituary of Ross, who passed away earlier this year at age 93, reveals fascinating facts about his life even beyond his significant achievement of owning 30 eateries citywide. He started in the food business in his early 20s, creating an ice cream company called White Castle with his mother. He might have been one of the city's first mobile street-food peddlers, pushing a cart up and down the Embarcadero. Later in life, Ross trained in martial arts; his son says he trained with Bruce Lee for three years.
There is still one Doggie Diner head that's permanently viewable to the public, and he's now a landmark thanks to the City of San Francisco. Cruise out to Sloat Boulevard near 45th Avenue to see him. Check out DoggieDiner.com for more reminiscing. And please do share your Doggie Diner memories in the comments below.