Charlie’s Dog House Diner

From the great book of diners of fanciful design (compare, more generally: restaurants of fanciful design and motels of fanciful design), from Tim Evanson: Charlie’s Dog House Diner, 2102 Brookpark Rd, Cleveland OH:

(#1) The facade, representing a doghouse, with dogs; but this is just one face of the diner, which is otherwise of more ordinary form

Now: on the compound noun dog house; on Charlie’s Dog House Diner; on what is no doubt the most famous dog house in pop culture, Snoopy’s from the Peanuts comic strip; and on diners that have taken dog house entirely for its name value, without any attempt to mimic or represent a dog house — taking the Dog House Diner in Encinitas CA as one exemplar of these. Hot dogs! Getcher hot dogs here!

The compound noun. From NOAD:

compound noun dog houseNorth American a dog’s kennel.

I was taken aback to discover that dog house was an AmE thing (also taken up by Canadians). Are dog houses a North American thing?

The skinny on Charlie’s in Cleveland. From the Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Eats site on Charlie’s Dog House Diner, by Jill on 3/21/22:

I have been fascinated with Charlie’s Dog House Diner my entire life. The building sparked my imagination for years. To my young eyes, it looked like a little fairy tale diner guarded by two snoopy dogs. My grandparents lived on W. Schaaf off Broadview in Old Brooklyn, so we would frequently pass the diner, which marks the border between Cleveland and Parma. The kitschy roadside attraction has been in the exact same spot since 1952, when it began life as the Dog House, part of a national chain of shops that offered walk-up service to customers who ordered hot dogs and hamburgers through a window. When my father heard I ate here he made fun of me. Apparently, it was never quite taken seriously by him and his friends. Their loss.

The menu was expanded to include breakfast and lunch when a new owner took over 10 years ago, but they “updated” it during the pandemic (June 2020). It still contains all of the breakfast and lunch favorites. There is not a lot of seating. If you time it right, you can walk right in and grab a seat at one of the twelve red-topped stools at the L-shaped counter. It is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

These days, the clientele is still solidly working class, the burgers and pancakes still sizzle on the flat top and, though heavily remodeled throughout the decades, the space still features numerous retro throwbacks. Children’s artwork, a Specials board, lotto scratch-off dispensers, and photos of Liam Neeson … decorate the area behind the counter. The operation still runs much like it would have back in the 1950s, with the owner on the grill and one of the employees tending the counter. Everything is made to order. You can still get full for less than $10.

The eggs Benedicts and breakfast burritos are well-loved. A list of skillets and omelets, pancakes, burgers, sandwiches, and, of course, those famous hot dogs are also on the menu

… the Cleveland Dog … is a delicious Vienna hot dog … topped … with chopped onions and Stadium mustard.

Snoopy’s dog house. Snoopy is given to sleeping on the roof. But then there’s the interior, entertainingly explored in this strip from 1/31/54:


The Dog House Diner in Encinitas. Just the name. The exterior:

(#3) A diner with a take-out window

The menu (alas, the best I could do on clarity, but the details aren’t the point):

(#4) Hot dogs rule!


4 Responses to “Charlie’s Dog House Diner”

  1. Tim Evanson Says:

    There is also Krypto’s Dog House of Solitude. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and penciller Al Plastino, its first appearance was in “Superman” #150 (January 1962).

  2. Tim Evanson Says:

    Here is a link to the Krypto image.

  3. Tim Evanson Says:

    There is also the Bulldog Cafe, once located at 1153 West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. A takeout restaurant, it was torn down in 1955. A re-creation was built for the 1991 Disney movie The Rocketeer.

    This link is to an image of the original cafe.

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