Canine Rescue: Help Restore the Doggie Diner Heads



As you may recall, Bernalwood recently explored the history of the Bernal Heights branch of the Doggie Diner restaurant chain that ruled the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez from the 1960s until the 1980s.

You may also recall that three giant Doggie Diner fiberglass mascots survive to this day as a traveling trio of cultural ambassadors mounted to the back of an old trailer:

Doggie Diner heads invade the Mission District

And you may even remember that many Citizens of Bernalwood were overjoyed by these same doggie heads last October, when they were spotted on Folsom Street wearing sporty knit wool cozies:


Well, the doggies are now 50 years old, which is why the esteemed John Law,  custodian of the Doggie Diner heads, has launched a worthy Kickstarter campaign to fund their restoration:

I and a small handful of friends have been bringing these local icons to charity events, parades, and art happenings for the last 20 years FOR FREE and for the sheer joy of it. These local icons are the only things that seem to brighten the day of everyone who sees them—every time—and for me, that is worth all the labor and expenses that I have poured into them years.

Twenty years of hauling them around on a rickety trailer and 50 years in the sun has taken its toll, and they are in desperate need of repair. But restoring a vintage, 10-foot-tall, 300lb fiberglass and metal sculpture is complicated, labor intensive, and expensive—and we have three of them! We need to raise $48K in just 30 days to get the work done.

Though these Doggie Diner heads do not live in Bernal, history has made them a part of us. And as further evidence of this project’s bona fides, Billy Collister, one of the metalworkers participating in the restoration effort, was the contractor who completed my home renovation years ago, so your Bernalwood editor is quite comfortable endorsing both his workmanship and industry.

Most importantly, amid constant socio-economic change and the multi-generational transformation of our neighborhood’s landscape, seldom do we have the chance to preserve a such a tangible slice of an older, even weirder San Francisco.

Especially one that’s so easy to park.

This is one such opportunity. You can donate to the Doggie Diner Restoration effort right here.

PHOTOS: Top, Historic photos of Bernal’s Doggie Diner at the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez.

13 thoughts on “Canine Rescue: Help Restore the Doggie Diner Heads

    • I know nothing about the actual budget. But As explained in the video: The project entails three dogs, with all new interior steel frames, plus fiberglass repair, then proper repainting, and a new trailer for the lot. If you’ve had any home renovation or custom auto body work done, the numbers seem reasonable.

  1. As for the budget, I’d accept John Law’s figures. He’s not a cheat. I’ve known him for years and he gives back far more to the community than he gets. He’s a co-founder of Burning Man, and even though he could have cashed in on it, he didn’t. The doggies live not far from me, so I see them every day. Believe me/believe him; they need serious renovation. The support structures are corroded and rusting, the fiberglass needs repair, they need painting.

  2. John is a good friend of mine, I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s not out to make a profit off of this – he’s not that kind of human. The dog heads need major restoration as does the trailer they live on and get hauled around the Bay Area on. If you’ve ever seen these heads around town and enjoyed them, or remember these heads atop their pole back in the day of the Doggie Dinner, then please chip in if you can and share this cause. San Francisco is quickly losing its delightfully weird icons and people. Let’s not let the dog heads disappear too!

  3. According to the Kickstarter page, it cost the City $55K to restore the Doggie head in the Sunset. Of course, a DIY restoration would cost a LOT less. I’ve met John on a couple of occasions and I don’t believe for one minute that he’d want to scam anyone.

    • BESIDES, how would we know what events to attend if we didn’t see the doggies there? Sometimes I see John hitching up the doggies for some event I’m unaware of and I go over to him and ask where they’re going. Found several fun events that way…

  4. Spotting the DD head on Sloat years ago was one of those “I’m in the right place” moments. Happy to support the restoration effort.

  5. Pingback: UPDATED: Neighbor David Talbot Shares What He Really Thinks of His New Neighbors In Precitaville | Bernalwood

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