Saving the Doggie Diner Heads

Retro Staff Comments

From the late ’40s to the mid-80s, locals and tourists to San Francisco and Oakland, California, enjoyed local fare from a classic diner. The first Doggie Diner opened in Oakland (on San Pablo Ave) during WWII. Founder Al Ross grew the small chain to 30 diners, the bulk of them in San Francisco.

The Doggie Diner

From the mid-60s, until the chain closed in 1986, doggie heads beckoned patrons to the Doggie Diner. (Source:

In the mid-60s, the diner gained a mascot—a large dachshund dog that donned a bow tie and a chef’s hat. Billboard designer Harold Bachman created the image, and each “diner dog” was fashioned into a huge, rotating fiberglass fixture that could be seen as soon as you turned the corner. These Doggie Diner heads measured from 7-foot to 10-foot tall, and weighed up to 300 pounds each.

In the following years, many of these heads were torn down and trashed, but John Law aims to restore the three he and others managed to save in the early ’90s. For the past twenty years, these dog heads have traveled to many California events to be admired. Now, Law is raising funds to fully restore the three dogs so they can continue to be enjoyed by the masses.

Doggie Diner Heads

Doggie Diner heads traveling. (Source:

The Doggie Diner Makeover Kickstarter campaign explains the travels of the dog heads, and Law’s wish to preserve the dog, which gained national attention in the ’80s when Bill Griffith introduced the doggie in his comic book, Zippy the Pinhead. The goal: $48,000. With just five days left, more than 660 people have pledged over $42,000. Law says if he can raise $60,000, he’ll be able to return the doggies to “pirouetting on their pedestals”.

More historic photos and videos can also be seen at the Doggie Diner website.

Did you ever dine at the Doggie Diner? We’d love to hear your memories.


Last updated: Feb 03, 2014
Filed under: Diners, Retro Memories Tagged with: diners