Why One Wienerschnitzel Drive-Thru Is An Official Historical Landmark

Imagine paying $0.15 cents for a hot dog. Sounds like a too-good-to-be-true Costco deal, right? Well, that's not quite the case with the origin of the Los Angeles-based hot dog icon, Der Wienerschnitzel. When they first opened their doors in 1961, that's really all it cost! In 1977, the "Der" was dropped from the name, thus creating Wienerschnitzel. It's also ironic that a hot dog company calls itself "Wienerschnitzel" when Wienerschnitzel actually refers to veal hammered thin by a meat tenderizer, breaded, then fried until golden, via Merriam-Webster. So not exactly the hot dogs the LA establishment was selling. 

The founder of this establishment, John Galardi, is the reason that every single hot dog vendor in Hollywood fries onions outside to draw in customers, per Thrillist. He was famous for using the delicious smell to bring customers in. He also got his start in the restaurant business at only 19 years old working for the guy that started Taco Bell, Glen Bell, via See California. But Galardi earned his own place in the restaurant history books when he launched Der Wienerschnitzel.

How can hot dogs be historic?

John Galardi started Der Wienerschnitzel when he was only 23, per See California. Not very many 23-year-olds are that motivated and ambitious. Galardi is an icon in his own right. He didn't want customers parked in his parking lot for too long taking up valuable space, so he decided to start one of the first known drive-thrus anywhere, per Thrillist. That idea quickly took off, accounting for 70% of his sales at the time. Wienerschnitzel is now the world's biggest hot dog chain. How many hot dogs do you think they sell? If you guessed 120 million, you'd be on the money!

According to See California, the original Der Wienerschnitzel had a unique A-frame shape that customers couldn't resist. On the 53rd anniversary of the opening of Der Wienerschnitzel, they made some retro touches to the building, mainly the historic landmark plaque which is only the second in the entire history of the City of Los Angeles. When you combine the unique a-frame of the hot dog chain with being the figurehead of the drive-thru concept, and Los Angeles car culture, it's no wonder this plaque was awarded. Of all the 350 locations Wienerschnitzel has, nothing comes close to the original.