In 1939, Betty and Paul Pink bought a hot dog cart for $50 and set up shop in an open field on La Brea Avenue. There was no electricity, so they plunked down a few more bucks for an extension cord and made an arrangement to plug in at a house on Detroit Street. Eventually the couple replaced the cart with a proper stand, and the rest is encased-meat history.
Pink’s founders Betty and Paul have since passed away, but their son Richard Pink wanted a way to memorialize his parents’ can-do, depression-era scrappiness for the ages. At a ceremony on Thursday, the intersection of Melrose and La Brea will officially be declared Pink’s Square. A previous plan to paint the crosswalks pink was scrapped (Richard says the idea was ultimately too disruptive); instead, plaques on the lampposts will read:
PINK’S HOT DOG STAND
FOUNDED IN 1939
WITH A PUSHCART
BY PAUL & BETTY PINK
NOW A LOS ANGELES ICON
To celebrate the dedication—and 78 years in business—the Pink family is also donating $7,800 to a charity (charity TBD), and selling 78-cent chili dogs and veggie dogs for 78 minutes and donating that money to charity too.
District Five councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the motion to dedicate the intersection, says Pink’s represents the American dream. “The Pinks have managed to build an empire from a goal and a willingness to work as hard as they needed to in order to accomplish it,” he says in a statement. “I am thrilled to have them in my district and recognize them this week…”
Turning a hot dog stand into a landmark—particularly in a city with kind of a lot of hot dog stands—isn’t an easy feat. Nowadays, Pink’s is known for the near constant presence of tourists and locals queued up on the sidewalk outside, but Richard recalls a pair of tipping points that put their popularity over the edge. The first was when his wife Gloria, who manages the O.G. location, suggested they bring hot dogs to local radio stations and see if they could get on the air (they could). Later, to coincide with the stand’s 59th anniversary in 1999, they started their chili dogs for charity program, which drew publicity and crowds. Since then, the proliferation of travel and food shows on cable TV has kept them in the public eye and made them a staple on lists of things to do in L.A.
For Richard, the dedication of Pink’s Square is all about keeping Paul and Betty in the public consciousness. “The memory of my parents will be there forever,” he says. “I don’t want them to ever be forgotten. They struggled for many, many years, starting in ’39 when the depression was really bad. That’s what it means to me.”
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