Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.


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(1949) Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank

BBBneonsignI felt a little silly going to a Bob’s Big Boy for my blog, since it’s a huge chain, but this was one of the very first ones, built in 1949, and the oldest still around. At some point in the ’90s someone bought it and started making it more like it was in the old days, with car-hop service on the weekends and a classic car show every Friday (which, I’ve been told, Jay Leno attends). My friend Terry and I decided to check it out but didn’t go on a Friday or a weekend, because it’s supposed to be extremely crowded then.

-Curvy walls with tall windows, Googie-style, a neon “Take-Out” sign just inside, pictures of classic cars everywhere, a large “Bob” statue inside, almost as Continue reading

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(1959) Dinah’s Family Restaurant, Culver City

dinahsfamilysignMet my friend Marcie at Dinah’s Family Restaurant for a late lunch. Hadn’t realized that it is connected to Dinah’s Fried Chicken in Glendale until I got there and saw that above the take-out portion of the restaurant was the same bucket sign. Went back and forth on whether I should feel silly about that but decided no; it really doesn’t seem that impossible that there’d be two unaffiliated restaurants in the world named Dinah’s. I’ve now checked the websites, and neither mentions the other, which makes me think there must have been a rift at some point. Whatever, I can like them both. They couldn’t be more different, anyway. Dinah’s Family Restaurant is a large googie-type diner with a counter and many booths, and I only saw only one Continue reading


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(1957) Norm’s Restaurant, West Hollywood

normssignAfter a surprisingly uneventful dentist appointment, I stopped by the original Norm’s for a late lunch. Norm’s has a sign that always shows up in pictures of cool L.A. signs–for good reason, it’s neat–and the building is the quintessential Googie diner.

The inside doesn’t exactly look like the Jetsons, but it looks like it was designed and decorated by someone who thought the Jetsons was incredibly awesome.

-Sharply slanting ceiling, floor tiled to look like red brick, a gray counter with seats that are bright green with orange piping. The two long walls (which are crooked in a deliberate, interesting geometrical way) have one long Continue reading