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Help Save A Rad Part of SF History by Preserving the Doggie Diner Heads

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The Doggie Diner Heads, a San Francisco icon from the 1950’s to the 1980’s are in need of a little TLC. John Law, Burning Man Co-Founder,  original member of The Cacophony Society and steward of the little (big) pups has begun a kickstarter campaign to keep them from being sent out to pasture, and we think it’s a good idea to pitch in and give these lovable mutts and new lease on life.

But first, a little bit about their history. The Doggie Diner was a Bay area staple from 1948 to 1986, with locations in San Francisco, the East bay and the Peninsula alike. They were a local fast food chain, providing hot dogs, burgers and shakes to residents of all walks of life. Essentially, The Doggie Diner was a beloved Bay Area “thing” and the large, rotating dachshund head (designed by Bay Area billboard artist Harold Bachman) was iconic to the restaurant itself.

I spoke with my good friend Ray Vaughn, a born and bred San Franciscan who has many fond memories of the little pups from growing up.

“I remember going there after the Zoo. It was a zoo treat. The milkshakes were phenomenal. They were so thick your straw would collapse, since back then they were made out of cardboard.”

What’s great about this quote is the fact that Ray went on to pioneer early SF punk bands such as Hostages and Die Bossanova, and he’s actually still performing today. I doubt his SOMA dwelling future-self would have approved of his early affinity for such blatant Americana. But hey, I guess everyone was a kid at some point, right?

Ultimately, The Doggie Diner went out of business in the late 80’s as they failed to compete with big wigs such as McDonald’s and Burger King. However, many of those resilient doggie heads lived on. Currently, one can be found on 45th and Sloat and is actually a designated San Francisco landmark. Many others were sold to private parties, and that brings us todays request:

Donate some money to keep the three heads under the care of John Law alive!

Mr. Law has been bringing these guys to charity events, parades, local music events and other civic happenings–free of charge–for over 25 years. If you can swing it, why not toss in a little money to keep this Bay Area tradition going for another quarter century? The campaign needs to raise the necessary $48,000 by February 8th, so get clickin‘!

If you scroll down on the Kickstarter page, they have some really bad-ass incentives, including prints, DVDs, books etc. However, most notable is the offer of a pseudo-legal tour of the underground tunnels of San Francisco, led by John Law himself. In fact, if you are willing to shell out some serious cash, they’re even offering a trip to Paris for the purpose of exploring the subterranean tunnels of The City of Light.


Photo Credit: Nifer Kilakila,

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I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

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