Monday, February 05, 2007

Googie Lives

Birthday Cake @ Pann's

On Friday Larry and I were honored to be invited to the Eldon Davis' 90th Birthday Coffee Shop Tour and Progressive Dinner hosted by the L.A. Conservancy's Modern Committee and by the architecture firm of Armet, Davis and Newlove. You can read about the highlights of the tour here. L.A. Times reporter, August Brown, along with Times photographer Lawrence Ho went on the entire tour with the group and both did an excellent job of capturing the essence of Googie. A good explanation of Googie architecture is found in Wikipedia. Basically, these are futuristic "Jetsons"- type buildings, with that space age, optimistic look to the future. We still have many buildings of this design here in Los Angeles.
The tour started at Norm's on La Cienega with appetizers. The group then boarded a Vegas-style tour bus, complete with sparkling lights, champagne and music, graciously provided by the Armet, Davis and Newlove firm for the evening. While we were on the bus, many of the ModCom members gave comments on the places we were visiting that evening. Chris Nichols, along with Adrienne Biondo and other ModCommers gave a history of Googie. The author of "Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture", Alan Hess was also in attendance and helped us all understand the importance of preserving our historic and architecturally significant buildings.

We cruised by the former Tiny Naylor's coffeeshop on La Cienega just north of Wilshire. Then, the bus swung by Johnie's (originally Romeo's Times Square Coffee Shop) on Wilshire and Fairfax. Next stop was dinner at Bob's Big Boy (formerly a Carnation Restaurant) on Wilshire and Highland.
Bob Dolls
Eldon Davis @ Counter, Alan Hess in background, Sven Kirsten in Foreground
After Big Boy burgers and fries, we motored east on Wilshire to Crenshaw. Next stop: The Holiday Bowl that is now a Starbucks. We had coffee and biscotti at this stop. The bowling alley building is gone, but the modern design of the original coffee shop can still be viewed. The Starbucks Corporation took great care (along with the Modern Committee's help) to preserve as much of the original coffee shop as possible. The Holiday Bowl was a community center of sorts encompassing the black, white and Japanese communities of the Crenshaw area. There's an interesting online article about the Crenshaw Square neighborhood by Emy Murakawa.

Holiday Bowl Coffee Shop - Starbucks

We cruised south on Crenshaw to Slauson, turned west and viewed many mid-century buildings including The 'Wich Stand at Overhill, which is now a health food restaurant and yoga center called Simply Wholesome.

Original Menu The 'Wich Stand today....Simply Wholesome

ModCommers @ Pann's

Our last stop was at La Cienega and La Tijera at the historic Pann's Coffee Shop. We had birthday cake for Mr. Davis along with Pann's owner, Rena Poulos who also turned 90 a few days ago. On the patio at Pann's photographer for many of the historic Armet and Davis coffee shops, Jack Laxer, set up his 3-D projector and showed 3-D slides of many mid-century modern buildings in Los Angeles. Wearing special 3-D glasses really enhanced the experience of Googie for all of us!

ModCommers wish Eldon Davis & Rena Poulos a Happy 90th B-Day



At 5:52 PM PST, Blogger Madge said...

Sounds like a total blast! (of the Jetsons variety, of course)

At 6:37 PM PST, Blogger Ana said...

OMG I know all of those restaurants! The originals and the Witch Stand was our high school hang out.

Where did you ever get the original menu?

It was a drive in and I used to order French Fry's and chicken gravy with a cherry coke. That was the thing to order there. We wore Geistex sweaters with a hood and Lanz dresses.

At 8:22 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Ana!!! I love that you remember all of those Googie places! Of course, I got the 'Wich Stand menu online. I just copied the front of the menu...the entire menu is online. I learned that the 'wich in 'Wich Stand stood for "sandwich." However, the cocktail lounge at the 'Wich Stand was called "The Broom Room"...a play on the word witch / wich!! Also, it seems that the Beach Boys recorded a song called "The 'Wich Stand" about the drive-in. It's a rare record. If you can find it, let me know!!

L.A. Ell

At 9:56 PM PST, Blogger mj said...

I love Googie! Always have. Looks like a wonderful tour. I have a odd craving for a Big Boy combo and fudge cake for dessert...

At 9:57 PM PST, Blogger Abby Hansen said...

I remember quite a few of these...

I'm confused, though...wasn't Carnation on the north side of Wilshire??

So glad I finally had a chance to check in on your blog!


At 6:11 AM PST, Blogger Ana said...

We were not old enough to hang out at the cocktail lounge at the time so I forgot about the Broom Room. Mike Love dated one of my friends and he used to hang out at the Wich Stand. Yes there is a song the Beach Boys recorded that mentions the Wich Stand.

The other drive-in we frequented where the Beach Boys also hung out was the A&W on Hawthorne Blvd. still remember the root beer floats and Hermosa 22nd street. Oh memories....

I never knew why it was called the "Wich" stand I never even noticed that it was Wich instead of Witch .... who knew?

At 7:37 AM PST, Anonymous Neil said...

That sounds so much fun. I love all those places. I still feel sad every time I drive by the former Ship's on La Cienega.

At 10:27 AM PST, Anonymous Jo Anne said...

You and Larry certainly are among the movers and shakers of all that was Los Angeles. Ah such memories of my teen years in LA ..... looks like lots of fun.

At 9:13 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friends and I, all attending El Camino College at the time cruised from the A & W on Hawthorne to the Wichstand. Tried to talk to the gals at the Wichstand... but you had to get into the right lane and the conversations were usually short as the line kept moving up. Drag races for cash used to be arranged at the wich and the races took place on La Ciegega going southbound. One guy who used to win big bucks was, as I remember named "Sturkio" who reportedly changed his engine to a hotter on after making the initial bet. Don't know if this is true. Great times. We of course would listen to the Beach boys while cruising... awesome! and they still are!

At 9:58 PM PDT, Anonymous Larry Sturchio said...

To all the friends of the Wich Stand, and all the historic Armet and Davis coffee shops and many other mid-century modern buildings trough-out the Los Angeles area, we have lost our dear friend Eldon Davis, may he Rest In Peace.

With warmth, affection and much sorrow, from all of his Friends from the Wich Stand, he will always be remembered… Our prayers are with the Davis family.
May he RIP, Larry Sturchio

At 7:50 PM PDT, Blogger Terri Ross said...

Anyone have the recipe? Loved those French fries and gravy I've tried to duplicate it can't do it , thought it was kinda cheesey but don't know


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