Randy's Donuts, Los Angeles, California

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Randy's Donuts, Los Angeles, California

Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:30 pm

Name: Randy's Donuts
Architect:
Year:

Street: 805 W Manchester Blvd (at La Cienega)
City: Inglewood
State: CA
Zip: 90301
Country:
Phone: 310 645-4707

Type:
Style: programmatic
Status:


Look for it when landing at LAX.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gperez/105 ... 072879772/



It has a brohter on Normandie, off Century.

http://www.bigwaste.com/photos/ca/donuts/

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Postby Gnomus » Thu Feb 22, 2007 10:19 pm

There are at least five of the old Big Donut Drive-In locations still in existence. They are:

Randy's -- 805 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood
Kindle's -- 10003 S Normandie, LA
Dale's -- 15904 S Atlantic Ave, Compton
Donut King II -- 15032 S Western Ave, Gardena
Bellflower Bagels -- 17025 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower

Kindle's is the original location, opened in 1950, by Russell C. Wendell. He built 11 of the Big Donuts, but later sold the individual stores off to concentrate on his Pup 'N' Taco chain.

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Postby Gnomus » Fri Aug 31, 2007 5:19 pm

Continuing the hunt for Big Donuts...

I've got a line on four other Big Donut locations, now gone:

Van Nuys -- Kester Ave/Sherman Way
N. Hollywood -- Laurel Canyon Blvd/Magnolia
Culver City -- Washington Blvd/Sepulveda
Reseda -- Reseda Blvd/Sherman Way

Anyone know where the other two locations might have been?



edited 6/3/08 to add SoftSupply's info on Reseda location
Last edited by Gnomus on Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby babyblue65bird » Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:07 pm

I've seen an old photo postcard (circa 1965) of the corner of Sherman Way and Reseda Blvd, with the Reseda Theater sign prominently displayed, that shows what appears to be a giant donut store (you can see part of the donut) on the corner, but the sign says "Taco Drive-In". So perhaps this was an early giant donut store that had been converted to a Pup N' Taco? It's a gas station now.
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Postby Gnomus » Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:07 pm

A giant donut with Taco Drive-In painted on it? That's even more surreal than Thai Town Express on Hollywood Blvd with the giant hot dog on the roof!

I wonder if this is a new location, or the person who said it was on Sherman Way at Kester was misremembering...

Thanks for the info!

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Postby sumu » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:07 pm

My first job was at the one in Gardena on Western. It was fun, except I had to start work at 5 in the morning.

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Postby Gnomus » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:19 pm

Big Donut fans!

A Fresno, CA, company, Pine Canyon Scale Models, has been producing a resin cast replica of a Big Donut building for model railroaders. It's about 6 inches tall. I built one a few months ago and it was fairly easy. Their website:

www.pinecanyonscalemodels.com/

It's listed under S-scale kits; check out the photos. The interior is very detailed with counters covered with trays of donuts, coffee and juice machines, etc. The only unfortunate thing is that the decal set provides their name, "Copper's Donuts." I styled mine after Randy's color-scheme, hand painted "Big Donut Drive-In," and it turned out pretty well.

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Postby Gnomus » Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:09 pm

Just started a PhotoBucket account. Let's see if this works!

Image
Last edited by Gnomus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:52 pm

Gnomus wrote:There are at least five of the old Big Donut Drive-In locations still in existence. They are:

Randy's -- 805 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood
Kindle's -- 10003 S Normandie, LA
Dale's -- 15904 S Atlantic Ave, Compton
Donut King II -- 15032 S Western Ave, Gardena
Bellflower Bagels -- 17025 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower

Kindle's is the original location, opened in 1950, by Russell C. Wendell. He built 11 of the Big Donuts, but later sold the individual stores off to concentrate on his Pup 'N' Taco chain.


Way to bring it!

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Postby Gnomus » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:17 pm

Thanks. I never intended to become an expert on the Big Donuts, but somehow I seem to have stumbled into it.

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Postby nichols » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:08 pm


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Postby Gnomus » Fri May 23, 2008 8:37 pm

Here are the five remaining Big Donut Drive-In locations that I am aware of.

Bellflower Bagels in Bellflower. The donut has been repainted with light purple spots; raisins, I presume...
Image

Dale's Donuts in Compton.
Image

Donut King II in Gardena. Gotta love that paint job!
Image

Randy's Donut's in Inglewood.
Image

Kindle's Donuts in Los Angeles.
Image

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Postby deanna b » Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:50 pm

Gnomus wrote:Bellflower Bagels in Bellflower. The donut has been repainted with light purple spots; raisins, I presume...

http://i274.photobucket.com/albums/jj26 ... Bagels.jpg


Notice how this one has its giant donut held up by a tall single post in front of the building, while the others are all attached on top of the roof by two posts. Also, the donut on the others are approximately twice the height of the building underneath, but this donut looks to be only around 3/4 the size of the others. Anyone have any theories why this one's different?

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Postby Gnomus » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:53 pm

I could make some wild-ass guesses about the lot being too small for a full-sized building, or maybe zoning restrictions, but I really don't know. And there is precious little information on the web that I can find on the other locations. There may be answers buried in local libraries; hard to tell.

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Postby Futura Girl » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:15 am

Gnomus wrote:I wonder if this is a new location, or the person who said it was on Sherman Way at Kester was misremembering...


nope. i remember the one on the wwest side of kester just south of sherman way...
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Postby Gnomus » Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:43 am

Thanks! Every little bit of data helps.

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Postby Gnomus » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:10 pm

It seems there is a lot of confusion out there about the Big Donut Drive-In chain. Some say there were 9 locations, some say 10 and others, 11. Some say that Randy's was built in 1952, and that it's the last standing location, or that it has 1 or 2 brothers out there. All of this is wrong.

I spent a couple of hours down at the Central Library going through old phone books, as well as searching online. This, as near as I can tell, is the truth of the matter:

Russell C. Wendell was selling doughnut making machines when he got the idea for the Big Donut Drive-In. Many of the phone books (as well as promotional flyers) have numbers for the various locations. There seem to have been 10 of them.

1. 10003 S Normandie, LA (1950)
2. 805 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood (1953)
3. 15032 S Western Ave, Gardena (1955)*
4. 4101 Sepulveda, Culver City (1956)*
5. 15904 S Atlantic Ave, Compton (1956)*
6. 5203 Laurel Canyon Blvd, North Hollywood (1957)*
7. 4257 W Imperial Blvd, Inglewood
8. 17025 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower
9. 7149 Kester Ave, Van Nuys (1959)
10. 18461 Sherman Way, Reseda

The phone records at Central Library are incomplete, so I can't say which year locations 7, 8 and 10 first appear. There was also a business office listed at 16312 S Broadway, LA, which may have confused someone into thinking it was an 11th Big Donut.

Five of these locations still stand: #1, 2, 3, 5 and 8. #4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 were demolished.

The architect was Henry J. Goodwin. This is from two books, "Understanding Architecture" by Leland M. Roth, and "The New Paradigm in Architecture" by Charles Jencks. Most of the locations feature drive-up windows on either side, a walk-up window in front, and the donut straddling the building, aimed at the intersection. Location #8 (if I remember correctly) only had a drive-up window on one side, and a door in front with a small area to sit down inside. A postcard of Sherman Way shows a Big Donut on the very edge. This was possibly the same design as #8.

One old photo shows an undetermined location with the donut not at an angle, but aligned with the long axis of the building. Perhaps it didn't sit at an intersection. (This was the North Hollywood location.)

The 32 1/2 foot diameter donut was allegedly sculpted by someone named Robert Graham. People assume it was the famous sculptor by that name who worked in bronze. However, he was only 12 years old in 1950. The LA Conservancy's website repeats this info -- I'm trying to track down the source. "The donut is made out of rolled steel bars covered with gunnite, the same material used for swimming pools" -- Ron Weintraub. In a USA Today article on giant roadside objects from 2006, Weintraub confirmed the size of the donut sculpture.

The three Valley locations are listed in 1966, but not 1970. It seems that Wendell started selling off locations in the late 1960s to concentrate on his Pup N' Taco chain. Location #2 was apparently the last to go. It's still listed in 1976, but in 1977 it appears in the Yellow Pages as Randy's Donuts and Sandwiches. According to someone writing on a blog, on its last day as a Big Donut, a drunk driver plowed into the building, damaging it. The new owner restored it.

Interestingly, the #1 location also became a Randy's Donuts and Sandwiches. On the Randy's website, they quote someone as saying that the new owner was named Carol Rose Kahn, who named it Randy's after her boyfriend. However, co-owner Ron Weintraub says that this is not true. Robert Eskow bought locations #1 and 2 in 1976 and named them Randy's after his son. Also according to Mr. Weintraub, "Mr. Eskow could not deal with all the problems inherent within the neighborhood."

In 1977, one of the bakers, a man named Gary Kindle, purchased the Normandie store. Kindle's was born. He owned it for many years, before dying suddenly from an asthma attack. His widow sold the store to two other people. Eskow sold the Manchester store to brothers Ron and Larry Weintraub in 1978. They kept the name Randy's, and run it to this day.

The other locations have changed hands a bit as well. Location #3 was an Angel Food Donuts; now it's the Donut King II.

There are a number of Angel Food Donut shops around Long Beach which feature a large donut on top. These appear to have been fashioned out of metal; they are not associated with the Big Donut Drive-In chain.

In 1984, Wendell sold his Pup N' Taco chain to Taco Bell. A newspaper article credits him with the idea of selling fast food through a drive-up window. I'm not sure if this is true or not.



* year first appeared in phone books, could have opened late previous year.


As always, any info people can contribute to this endeavor is always welcome.

Don


Edit: added and corrected info
Last edited by Gnomus on Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:29 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby nichols » Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:33 pm

A Gnomus after my own heart! Wow, very impressive. This makes me very happy. More! More! To say thanks, here's a pic of #3 last Saturday nite.
Image

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Postby 24x48 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:33 pm

Not to belittle the awesome Randys Donuts, it certainly is a product of location...(especially seen by those who spend time only on one coast or the other). It reminds me the classic architecture guide of Los Angeles...the author obviously only spent time on Reseda Blvd, from the Ventura Freeway to CSUN...perhaps to lecture at the school...it's apparent by the very few buildings in the area listed in the book.

The artist John Register painted Randys Donuts; however, the donut does not appear in the final painting...the building sans what-makes-it is actually very apealling.

I used to watch the donut-maker puncture the doughnut with the jelly squirting machine at the Reseda location. By the way, also have a picture postcard of Sherman Way although the view does not include the donut..only the "Reseda" (movie theatre) and the very best neon signed Sav-On drug store (later the Country Club...now a church).

Thanks,

24x48

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Postby Gnomus » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:54 pm

Chris, thanks!

Here are some images from my online research. If anyone wants me to take them down for rights issues, I will.

Here's Russell Wendell, in the article that gives him credit for being the creator of drive-up fast food service.
Image

This article got the number of locations correct.
Image

This flyer lists the first five locations built. Notice that some of the street names have changed. Location #2 is given as Freeman and Manchester... when was La Cienega called Freeman?
Image

This is the location that breaks the "donut angled toward intersection" rule. Would anyone out there know which location this is?
Image

24x48, is this the postcard you're talking about? The Big Donut intrudes into frame from the left. This would seem to be the image that SoftSupply mentioned here on Nov 3, 2007. There's a sign between the donut and the theater that reads "taco drive-in."
Image

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Postby 24x48 » Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:04 pm

Thanks...the Reseda postcard looks like it...but it may also have been shot behind the signal in the center median of Sherman Way...I'll go with this view for now. The photographer's location was and still is the dreaded corner that narrows down both streets at the intersection. The Reseda Blvd signal ocassionally was destroyed by right-turning commercial vehicles. By the way, the taco sign reminds me of the Pup-In-Taco that was a half mile north of this intersection. The sign was still there during the early 1980s.

Freeman-La Cienega...as you know, many street names changed through the years...I believe all that is left of Freeman is an "Avenue" segment. I like old L.A. street maps...there is an old 1920s map that depicts all the streets in the San Fernando Valley...the vast majority are completely different...an obsession with street-name changing...reminds me of the USSR and their name changing!

24x48

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Postby nichols » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:40 pm

EEGAH! Wow!
What is the source? Is Wendel still around?
too much goodness.

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Postby Gnomus » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:18 pm

The newspaper photo of Wendell, the grand opening, and the mystery location (credited to Mark Wilson) are from

http://www.rogerwendell.com/pnt.html

Russell Wendell is (or was) his great uncle. I get the impression that Russell's no longer living. Unfortunately, Roger Wendell knows very little about the Big Donuts. He lives in Colorado and had more involvement with the Pup N' Taco side of things, having worked there in his youth.

The flyer I got off the Randy's Donuts website. Unfortunately, they have not been responsive to emails, even after I sent them some photos that they requested...

The Reseda postcard is from CSUN's Oviatt Library Digital Collections.

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Postby Gnomus » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:46 pm

Well, I heard back from Ron Weintraub, co-owner of Randy's Donuts. Some interesting tidbits:

"The donut is made out of rolled steel bars covered with gunnite, the same material used for swimming pools," says Ron.

Also, a man named Robert Eskow purchased locations #1 and 2 in 1976 and named them Randy's after his son. But he couldn't deal with the crime in the neighborhood, so he sold off the Manchester location to Ron and Larry Weintraub in 1978. (Ron says he doesn't know who Carol Rose Kahn is, or how the info about her appeared on Wikipedia's Randy's Donuts page -- it has since been removed.)

In 1977, one of the bakers at location #1 purchased that business. His name? Gary Kindle. And so Kindle's Donuts was born. He owned it for many years, then died suddenly after an asthma attack. His widow sold the store to two other people.

And I just found a USA Today article online about giant objects. They said that Randy's owners settled the issue over how big the donut sculpture actually is by climbing up on a ladder with a tape measure. Reported size: 22 feet. Actual size: 32 1/2 feet!

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Postby Velas » Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:21 pm

Gooooooooooooooooooal!
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Postby Gnomus » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:53 pm

Revisited Bellflower Bagels and Dale's this past weekend; I'm happy to report that both are sporting new paint jobs and looking spiffy.

Image

Image

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Postby nichols » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:26 pm

LOS ANGELES TIMES

L.A. THEN AND NOW
Giant doughnuts in the sky are still around
Their numbers have fallen and the shops below don't necessarily sell doughnuts, but the outsize confections haven't disappeared.

By Steve Harvey
August 30, 2009
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In the coming disaster movie "2012," tragedy strikes Randy's Donuts in Inglewood when its giant rooftop doughnut becomes unhinged and is last seen bouncing down the street in the direction of star John Cusack's limo.

The incident is just digital magic, of course. In real life, Randy's -- once a member of the now-defunct Big Donut chain -- is very much intact, as 405 Freeway drivers know well.

But over the last half-century, half a dozen former Big Donuts have disappeared, gobbled up by developers.

If it's any consolation to worshipers of these giant confections, however, there are three other leftovers in Greater L.A. Also still standing are smaller rooftop doughnuts -- former members of the Angel Food Donuts chain -- in the Long Beach area, not to mention a distant cousin in La Puente...

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... 1957.story

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Isn't there

Postby modfan » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:36 am

One in La Puente somewhere or am I thinkin of one that has a dozen donuts stacked sideways creating a tunnel as a drive thru?

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Postby Gnomus » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:18 am

Modfan, you're thinking of The Donut Hole which was a chain of its own and unrelated to the Big Donut Drive-Ins. It has two large fiberglass donuts on either end of a building.

There are also a number of large donuts in the Long Beach area that are likewise independent of the Big Donuts. Mostly they're Angel Food Donut locations, and their donuts seem to have been made out of metal ductwork. The Daily Grind is also down there, and I'm not sure of its history.


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