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Pink Dotting the L.A. Landscape


Pinky's round, rosy face, pinwheel hat and windup car have become as much a part of the Southern California landscape as sunshine and palm trees. For the uninitiated, Pinky is the mascot for Pink Dot, a food delivery service in the greater Los Angeles area that is usually called into service by customers who don't want to drive to the market.

"When I write, I don't like to go out," said screenwriter Anne Verboon, upon delivery of a chef's salad, red wine, French bread and a kitchen sponge to her Venice home. "I love the bread. It's the most European French bread I can find in L.A."

Some things Pink Dot delivers: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, Starbucks coffee, rolls of quarters, sponges, condoms, Dom Perignon champagne, stamps, a salad called "Pinky's Parthenon" and a sandwich named "Reuben a la Dot." Some things Pink Dot does not deliver: kegs and pizza--at least not yet.

During the four years driver Jeff Broady has been working for Pink Dot, he has delivered to boats, strip clubs, and to celebs like Brad Pitt and Alicia Silverstone. One time he delivered a pack of cigarettes to two women who called in their order on a cell phone from a restaurant table.

"We have one lady who orders $700 worth of stuff every week. A lot of cat food," Broady said.

Combined, all Pink Dot locations fill about 1,000 orders a day, with deliveries guaranteed in 30 minutes or less. Most are placed between 6 and 10 p.m.--prime time television viewing hours. The final episode of "Seinfeld" was the company's biggest night ever.

Bill Toro opened the first Pink Dot store in 1987 on Sunset and La Cienega in West Hollywood. It was the only location until 1993. As for the name, Pink Dot is not Toro's dog's or his daughter's. It is simply a word that transfers well onto a telephone keypad. Blue Dot, his first choice, had already been trademarked by a dairy farm.

Just as well. Pink Dot is so embraced by Los Angeles that "a customer asked us to bring the Pinky mobile over for some photos at her children's birthday party," said district manager George Ziniewicz. "Instead of a clown, they called us."

Pinky's seven delivery palaces are a monument to efficiency. Orders are received by a central phone bank and routed to each store, where a manager or driver picks up a shopping basket to fill with selections from the aisles of potato chips, vodka and aspirin. Once an order is complete, the driver maps out the delivery location using a grid on the wall. Then it's off to the Pinky mobile, whose drivers have witnessed almost everything imaginable.

"I've seen customers . . . get locked out of their homes in their underwear. I've been asked to put away a customer's groceries," Broady said.

"One Halloween this guy was drunk, and he tried to pay one of our drivers with a motorcycle, instead of money!" remembered Konstantin Agafonoff, general manager of the Venice store.

"One guy used to order a $30 sandwich from the Sunset store with every meat and cheese we had. We had trouble wrapping the thing," Ziniewicz added. "It's also strange when a customer orders a six-pack of beer along with a bottle of Tylenol."

And on it went, with the driver, store manager and district manager trying to one-up each other with weird L.A. stories, until the phone rang with new possibilities.


Times staff writer Booth Moore can be reached at

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