When Googie architecture first emerged in LA, there were mixed reactions to it. We also think it’s best to mention that our list only makes up the smallest part of the Googies that have existed in Los Angeles. Many of which are now lost. And as architectural styled changes, the Space Age Futurism of Googie fell out of favor. Googies, the John Lautner-designed coffee shop that launched the entire movement, was also demolished in the 1980s. Groups like the Los Angeles Conservancy have, however, consistently rallied to save these buildings.
Treat yourself to a sunny weekend drive-through for the infamous Randy’s Donuts. Or grab a cup o’ joe from Norm’s — and take in the alluring visuals of the Googie colors, shapes, textures. And don’t forget the signage that made Googie SoCal’s signature style.
Here’s our second part of our Googie series! In honor of all the Googie spots around Los Angeles that still stand in all their eclectic glory!
Pann’s Coffee Shop
Built by Helen Fong and Armet & Davis in 1958, Pann’s Coffee Shop stands with its flagstone walls and angular roof. Its large expanses of plate glass, and a really funky neon sign, are by far one of the best-preserved Googie in the city. If you feel like venturing inside, be prepared to be greeted by even more textures. For instance, the terrazzo floors, red vinyl booths, dark wood veneers, and cork finishes.
The Googie Signage!
A major stand-out point of Googie architecture, especially the kind that we see in Los Angeles is the signage — that does exactly what it’s supposed to: attract all attention. Googie architects experimented with custom typography, abstract symbols like starbursts and dingbats, neon lights, and more!
Bob’s Big Boy Broiler
Sure, this restaurant has been home to a number of establishments in the past — including a stint as a car dealership — but its impressive 65-foot-long neon sign has remained unchanged. For decades, Johnie’s Broiler nodded at passing motorists with its slimline roof and massive script sign. After an illegal demolition in 2007, the building’s rubble was restored by the franchise owner of Bob’s Big Boy in 2009 and has since been a home to the Googie glory of its past and Johnie’s “Fat Boy” Mascot!
Since 1953 Randy’s Donuts has unmistakably been making mouths water with their iconic doughnut. At a little over 35 feet in diameter, the building adorns the crown of a humble donut and has been featured in movies such as Get Shorty and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, and television shows like Arrested Development and Entourage!
Norm’s Coffee Shop
Built by Helen Fong and Armet & Davis in 1957, this is yet another example of a Googie building being a self-advertisement for the business it’s housing. The roof is shaped like a kite on the side, and then there’s the echoing sign with each block letter in the name Norm’s getting its own angular backdrop.
This bright and glaringly iconic spot in West Hollywood once housed the rock ‘n’ roll coffee shop hangout, Ben Frank’s.
Today you are most likely to run into hungry late-night tourists on the prowl for banger burgers and the search for a celebrity or two — but mind you, this doesn’t make the diner any less enjoyable! Similar to Sunset Strip’s off-center A-frame, the Sherman Oaks location of Mel’s Drive-In features a single swooping roof and stands out as one of the earliest examples of Googie in the city!
This one’s a must-visit for the experience alone.