www.RogerWendell.com
Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM
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Pup 'N' Taco Sign Pup 'N' Taco (and Big DoNut!)
In late 2002 I posted a couple pictures of my great uncle's former business, Pup 'N' Taco,
and was surprised at the number of customers who wrote to say how much they missed
the food! So, I've created these pages as a kind of memento of the family business...

 

 

Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Pup 'N' Taco Letters
Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Pup 'N' Taco Photos from friends...

Click on any of this page's "thumbnail" images for a larger view!
(Most photos are from the collection of my father, Roger L. Wendell)

Pup 'n' Taco Newer Style Building
Newer style building
identified as Garden Grove by
David Tognazzini See Letters
Pup 'N' Taco 1975 Colfax
Colfax and Williams
Denver, Colorado - 1975
We Serve RC Cola Only, Sir
Yes, although I've drank my weight in Pepsi®, Coke®, and a host of other softdrinks, I'll have to admit that Pup 'N' Taco's RC Cola®, Orange drink, and "Slushes" were my favorites! Unfortunately, way back then, there were all kinds of legal issues wrapped around the use of any words that described cola-like drinks - causing us to expend all kinds of extra effort to ensure employees properly identified the brand of softdrinks we were serving...
4th Special Print Cup
4th Special Print Cup
Taco Sauce
Taco Sauce
Bite The One You Love
Bumper Sticker:
Bite the One You Love!
Pup 'n' Taco Rosemeade & Thorndale, Pasadena
Rosemeade and Thorndale,
Pasadena, California - 1967
Interior Seating at Newer Stores
Interior seating at newer stores
Pup 'N' Taco Order Here
Order Here! (Might be Marge
in this photo, I'm not sure...)
Pup 'N' Taco Snow Day in Denver
Snow day, Christmas Eve, 1973
1775 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado
Pup 'N' Taco Special Dressing
Special Dressing
Pup 'N' Taco Balloon
What restaurant chain hasn't given out
the equivelant of a small country's Gross
Domestic Product in free balloons?

 

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Pup 'N' Taco Hat The Pup 'N' Taco Story:

My father, along with other family, friends and relatives, owned, operated, and managed Pup 'N' Taco restaurants in Southern California, Albuquerque and Denver. My brothers and sister and I all worked in them at various times during our teens and 20s. My mom, of course, helped out too and it wasn't uncommon for all of us to enjoy a Pup 'N' Taco dinner even after having worked there all day! Even my own kids and wife, in the early 80s, frequently enjoyed Pup 'N' Taco meals whenever we could stop in.

Originally, prices were a mere 15 cents for the town's best chilidog or taco. In the early days, the main Pup 'N' Taco outdoor sign featured a huge "15 cents" logo that far outshined the actual name of our business. Anyway, burritos, tostadas, pastrami sandwiches, taco burgers and the "Texas Tomato Burger" were all big sellers. For your thirst we featured RC Cola®, root beer, orange and our own fabulous cherry and grape flavored "slush" drinks - as a kid I continuously "sampled" them all!!

According to the media,* in about 1984, Pup 'N' Taco was sold to Taco Bell when it had around 100 stores compared to Taco Bell's 1,800. I, myself, other than being an employee, never had any financial interest in Pup 'N' Taco so I have no idea what the sales figures were but am sure it was in the millions of dollars (in 1984 dollars at that!). Anyway, as it goes in a free market, Pup 'N' Taco was sold and Taco Bell either remodeled or razed dozens of our buildings. Throughout the 20 year history of the chain, my family developed many great friendships with employees, suppliers, contractors and customers who will all be missed!

- Roger J. Wendell
   Golden, Colorado

*Nation's Restaurant News (November 12, 1984), Press-Telegram (AM/PM/Thursday, Nov 1, 1984), Los Angeles Times article by Staff Writer Bruce Horovitz (pp. 1&2 of the Business Section, I can't see the date in my photocopy...), The Registar, Business article by Charles Siler (I can only read the words Wednesday, Oct. in my photocopy...).

 

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Russ Wendell started it all!

Big Do-Nut grand opening in Van Nuys, Californa - 11-14-1959
In the late 1940s my father's uncle, Russell C. Wendell, created the Big DoNut Drive-In idea while selling donut making machines in Los Angeles. The first Big DoNut Drive-In was started at Normandie and Century, in 1950, with Russ opening nine more during the decade. Russ Wendell experimented with different food ideas, one being "Big Taco," that evolved into the first Pup 'N' Taco in 1965. The successful chain of Pup 'N' Taco restaurants reached a total of about 104 stores - most of which were located in the Los Angeles area although there were a few in Albuquerque and Denver. Russ Wendell's son, Russ Jr., was a big part of the business with my father, other Wendells and friends, getting involved later on...
 
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March 03, 2011
Hi Roger,

I am a granddaughter of Royal Stearns, who was the Treasurer of Big DoNut and Pup'n'Taco until his death in 1970. I found a pic from the L.A. Public Library Digital Archives. It is of Russell Wendell and my Grandfather celebrating the Grand Opening of the Van Nuys location. 1959. I would love it if you added it to your Pup'n'Taco web page.

Thank You Kindly,

Kathy L.-K.
 

Photograph caption dated November 14, 1959 reads, "Big Do-Nut In Glamorous Opening -- A steady flow of Valley residents,
including numerous leaders in civic, business and club affairs, enjoyed the hospitality of the management of Big Do-Nut Drive-In, on
the occasion of the opening of the firm's newest drive-in at 7149 Kester Ave., corner of Sherman Way and Kester avenue, Van Nuys. In
addition to refreshments a gala program of entertainment was presented. Left to right, Russell C. Wendell, president; Royal Stearns,
treasurer of the company, with comely Jan Richards, Miss Van Nuys, and Nels LaVally, representing V.N. Chamber of Commerce."

 

Big DoNut Drive-In early 1960s
Thanks Mark Wilson!
It was the mass-production capabilities of the donut machines Russ Wendell was selling that enabled him to create a Drive-In that featured a quality, economical product. Also, it was this service concept that Russ Wendell used to originate the idea of serving customers through drive-up windows. Both Pup 'N' Taco and Big DoNut received lots of media attention, and sometimes humor, from the likes of Johnny Carson and other celebrities.

The gigantic Big DoNut sign, itself, has been featured in television shows, documentaries, rock videos and various movies. Even Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev asked about the huge donut he saw from his Los Angeles motorcade during his visit to America in 1959!

So, Pup 'N' Taco and Big DoNut are now "history," as it were, but I'm always delighted to hear from folks who remember the food and friendship. And, as indicated on my PNT Letters page, there does seem to be a lot of good memories floating around out there!!
 

- Roger J. Wendell
   Golden, Colorado

 


View (Former) Big Do-Nut Drive-Ins in L.A. in a larger map
Thank you IOANA!
Randy's DoNuts
Formerly Russ Wendell's Big DoNut
Drive-In at Manchester and La Cienega
in Los Angeles, California
Kindle's DoNuts
Formerly Russ Wendell's
1st Big DoNut Drive-In
at Normandie and Century
in Los Angeles, California
My Dad's Business Card - Roger L. Wendell
My Dad's business card
Pup 'N' Taco Hand Puppets
Hand Puppets

 

2012 Rolling Do-nuts!

In the 2009 disaster film, 2012 you can see a large "Randy's DoNuts" (formerly Big DoNut) sign rolling across the road as Los Angeles is destroyed by a 10.9 earthquake. The rolling do-nut scene takes place between minutes 46:59 and 47:04...

 

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Pup 'N' Taco Sign
Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Pup 'N' Taco Letters
Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Pup 'N' Taco Photos

 

More Pix and Stuff!

 

Videos!

 

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