Iconic Doggie Diner heads need help to survive 

click to enlarge Doggie Diner
  • courtesy photo
  • A trio of figurines for the long-defunct Doggie Diner chain — Manny, Moe and Jack —and their flatbed truck are a familiar site at community events in San Francisco.
On the surface, they’re three dogs wearing bow ties and chef hats. But to many Bay Area residents who lived through their heyday, these large dachshund figurines are reminiscent of simpler times — a symbol of outings with the family for hot dogs and hamburgers or late-night stops with friends.

But without some help, they might not be around much longer.

More specifically known as Manny, Moe and Jack, the 7-foot-tall fiberglass dog heads are relics from a long-defunct fast-food chain, Doggie Diner, that operated throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area from 1948 until 1986. The rotating dog head signs, created by artist Harold Bachman in 1966, became a fixture of the popular local restaurants, and when the businesses shuttered several were saved from destruction.

John Law is among the artists who have worked to ensure the unique dog signs’ survival and for years has hauled the characters on a trailer to various community and charity events. There, Law has seen the uplifting effect the bow tie-clad dogs can have, generating smiles on the faces of construction workers, police officers and others.

“When I take them out, everyone who looks at them smiles; how many things do that?” Law said. “There are very few things I know of that are universally enjoyed.”

The decades of drawing observers have taken a toll on the signs, and Law is asking the public to give them a bone — in the form of donations. This week he launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising at least $48,000 for restoration of the Doggie Diner heads, primarily for replacing the old steel frames, reinforcing fiberglass, repainting them and purchasing a new trailer.

As of Tuesday evening, more than $6,500 had been raised from more than 140 backers. The campaign concludes Feb. 8.

The restaurant dogs’ recognition in the Bay Area became official when San Francisco designated them a city landmark in 2006. A fully restored and refurbished sign was placed at Ocean Beach near Sloat Boulevard and 45th Avenue. With a successful Kickstarter effort, Law is hopeful he can perform similar restoration for his figures, creating more memories for the future.

“These things are going to look like they did when they were brand new 50 years ago,” he pledged.

About The Author

Vince Echavaria

Vince Echavaria

Vince joined The Examiner in October 2013 as Night Editor after nine years at The Argonaut newspaper in Los Angeles. He was the Argonaut editor for more than six years and also worked as a reporter covering general news in communities including Venice, Santa Monica and Westchester. Vince earned his bachelor of... more
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