The legacy business will expand in its current location near the Santa Monica Pier, with construction set to begin this winter.
The humble Hot Dog on a Stick, which has been slinging sausages near the Santa Monica Pier since 1946, will soon — maybe, hopefully, possibly — be getting its long-awaited makeover.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, the California Coastal Commission granted demolition and rebuild permits to project architects in a unanimous, 10-0, vote. The project was first announced in 2009 before being delayed due to a company bankruptcy declaration in 2014. More announcements came in 2015, but by late 2021the demo was still on hold.
According to architect Michael Riley, that could change as soon as the city issues final permits, which could come as early as January.
“If we can get the last of the final approvals out of the City of Santa Monica, the company that controls Hot Dog on a Stick right now wants to move forward after the first of the year,” Riley said.
The project is estimated to take two months from start to finish, once demolition was cleared to begin, according to the coastal commission staff report.
Riley said that his Yorba Linda-based firm, Tanaka Riley, had already spent roughly 11 years with the project. When asked if factors such as permitting obstacles, coastal commission approval, the COVID-19 crisis or even the 2008 financial crash factored into the delays, Riley said it was all of the above.
“As time goes by, approvals expire,” Riley said, describing various factors such as landmark status and parking variances that made the project more complicated to approve.
The new building will largely resemble the current one, but will be about 50 percent larger; the boardwalk-facing facade will expand from 10 to 15 feet and total square footage will increase from 440 to 680. Other than size, Riley said little will change on the outside of the hot dog stand.
“It’ll still have the same signature red and white, still be primarily rectangular and shape, [still have] the windows in the front — all of those sorts of things,” Riley described. “So, you know, there was a lot of thought [put] into making the building as close as possible to the existing building.”
Both Riley and the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission agreed the business — the original Hot Dog on a Stick location — will retain its legacy status even with brand new digs. In 2015, the commission approved the demolition.
“It’s really important in keeping the Pier a unique and special place with businesses that you just don’t see everywhere you go, but you’ll only see them and experience in Santa Monica and on the Santa Monica Pier,” Pier & Beach Administrator Elana Buegoff told the Daily Press. “Now, Hot Dog on a Stick, although it has many, many outlets, the original location started on Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. And we’re really proud to have that designation as the original location for Hot Dog on a Stick.”
While many of the legacy businesses on and around the Pier draw tourism traffic, Buegoff said Hot Dog on a Stick and others also serve the local community well. She cited Santa Monica’s “buy local” program, calling it one of the largest of such programs in the country.
“There’s a really strong culture, a network of residents and employees who live local who want to support those local businesses,” Buegoff said, including brick-and-mortar businesses as well as booths and vendors at the farmers markets.
Focusing on legacy businesses, Buegoff said, helps protect that legacy for those who live here.
“I think it’s keeping Santa Monica unique and in the Santa Monica heritage for the residents,” Buegoff said. “They’re supporting these businesses and keeping them financially and operationally viable.”