Chili cheese dog at Pink's.
Arthur Bovino

Hot Dog Q&A with Richard Pink

The owner of LA's famous hot dog stand talks business, hot dogs, and Three Dog Night

Is there anything about Pink’s that hasn’t been said? Hard to imagine. Even detractors define themselves by it. But you won't find many of those, just check out the line. In this interview with the owner, Richard Pink, find out what goes into making good chili for topping hot dogs; which hot dog has links to the Lakers, the Matrix, and the song, "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog;" and how Orson Welles' chili dog record has lasted.


The New York Times reported in 1999 that Pink's served 21 kinds of hot dogs, and up to 2,000 a day. Has this changed?
We have 35 varieties of hot dogs and toppings. We also have 12 varieties of hamburgers.  We sell on average about 2,000 hot dogs a day and about 300 hamburgers.


As a kid, you worked at Pink's for its founders (your parents) Paul and Betty Pink. These days Pink's is a second job. You're also Managing Director of ING Clarion. What's the most valuable thing you learned about business at Pink's that you've taken with you?
With respect to Pink’s, I realize the key elements to success are: excellent food, excellent service by ensuring high morale and training, unique atmosphere, and continued promotion. At ING, I  recognize the importance of excellent service, promotion of the product, and high morale.


America the Beautiful: 12” jalapeño dog, pastrami, bacon, lettuce, chopped tomatoes.

You've told stories about how some dogs came to be (the Ozzy, the Martha Stewart), and with some you can follow a logical progression. Other dogs' origins just beg asking after, like the pastrami burrito, and the Three Dog Night. Where did those come from?
The Three Dog night came about as follows. When the LA Lakers won three championships in a row, we named a hot dog after the event, and called it the Laker three-peat dog.  That lasted for a year, and then when the Lakers lost in the fourth year, we renamed the hot dog after a famous movie at the time, called Matrix Reloaded.  After the movie had its run, we were looking for a name that would be permanent, and came up with the famous name of the singing group: Three Dog Night.  As you know, this creation contains three hot dogs. As to the pastrami burrito dog, we were trying to create a hot dog that was wrapped in a tortilla, and originally it contained bacon, two hot dogs, cheese, chili and onions.  The flavors melded beautifully.  Since it became a top seller, we wanted to tweak it by substituting pastrami for bacon.  They are both very good sellers.