Friday, January 16, 2015

Coffee Place Semantics - VPF

West coast versus east coast semantics.  In California we call restaurants that are mid-century modern in architecture, have big windows so that cars passing by can see inside, serve a multitude of home-style foods from an established kitchen COFFEE SHOPS.  It says so right on their signs.
It's a COFFEE SHOP!  Ship's, Westwood and Wilshire.  Demolished

A place that sells coffee exclusively, along with other beverages and maybe some foodstuffs that do NOT require preparation in a full-fledged kitchen are called COFFEE HOUSES.  You may even see some BoHo art, read poetry or sing folk songs in a coffee house.  Our modern-day chain coffee houses are Starbucks, Coffee Bean, independent places such as UnUrban and Talking Stick, etc.
On the east coast, they call places like our Coffee Shops, with extensive food menus,  DINERS.  East coasters call coffee places that sell beverages exclusively and non-kitchen necessary foodstuffs, COFFEE SHOPS. 

 It's all so confusing.

Recently, our local coffee shop, Norm's on La Cienega has been threatened by demolition.  There are steps to rule this iconic building a Historical National Monument.  Phew!  So many of our mid-20th century buildings have been torn down.  Here is an excellent article that explains the controversy.
Photo by Jack Laxer

Norm's La Cienega, Interior

Norm's La Cienega, iconic signage
Norm's in Santa Monica, a late 1960's building was recently torn down for massive commercial development along Lincoln Boulevard.
Norm's Santa Monica.  Demolished

Luckily, we still have a few "Googie" / space-age coffee shops in the vicinity, still running, and still serving delicious home-style food at reasonable prices!
Pann's Coffee Shop, Ladera Heights, Los Angeles

Pann's Interior
Chip's Coffee Shop, Hawthorne

Have a wonderful weekend.  Go out to a COFFEE SHOP for a burger this weekend and check out the cool architecture!
Bob's Broiler, Downey

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At 12:53 PM PST, Blogger janeray1940 said...

WORD. As a native Californian, COFFEE SHOP is Norm's... Rae's... Pann's etc. and NOT Starbucks! When I hear that, I *know* I'm not dealing with a native :)

My favorite was always the Penguin on Lincoln. Super sassy waitresses and a most excellent chicken-fried steak...

At 1:52 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Ahhhh...THE PENGUIN! I used to go there with my fellow students at SMCC many, many years ago!

At 6:38 PM PST, Blogger Divya Morris said...

That's MY Norms!!!! What can I do to help save it?

At 9:55 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Write about your concerns to Council District 5 councilman, Paul Koretz:

At 10:21 AM PST, Blogger Lassie said...

Ellen--- thanks for this, and I am sharing your article. Growing up in LA I took places like Ships, Norms, Panns and Johnnie's as an integral part of the eat-out landscape. It was before the advent of what I call the "Fa Fa" restaurants, you know, the ones with no name and just an address, the home of the $15 salad, the tragically hip and trendy. LA may not have had haute cuisine in the 1960s, but eating out at a Googie coffee shop was always plain fun and a social gathering place much like Barry Levinson depicted in his film "Diner" about Baltimore.

Ships was my favorite because of the toasters at the table, but my high school friends and I would frequent them all.

I'm glad attention is being focussed on Norms; too many other significant coffee shops were razed. We need to hang onto some vestiges of what made Los Angeles such a futuristic vision in the 1960s.

At 12:22 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for your comment and kind words, "Lassie." Now, we need the East Coasters to chime in!


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