Friday, March 23, 2018

Programmatic Architecture

Fish Shanty Restaurant, Los Angeles. Photo by Carol Westwood, 1980s

Programmatic, or novelty architecture used to be everywhere in Los Angeles. It wasn't unusual to have lunch served from a huge hot dog, doughnuts from a gigantic doughnut and ice cream from a giant ice cream cone. My parents took me and my brother to all of these places in Los Angeles when we were kids. My MOST favorite place of this sort was the Fish Shanty on Restaurant Row (1951-1988).
Smith Bros. Fish Shanty Restaurant, at the intersection of Burton Way, La Cienega, San Vicente, L.A.

You entered the restaurant through a giant door in the shape of a whale's mouth! Once inside, the decor was nautical and club-like. This restaurant was a favorite of my grandfather. He often held our family parties in the banquet room. 
You can actually view this very same banquet room in a scene from one of my favorite L.A.-centric movies, "The Loved One."  Find this movie and view it. You will not be disappointed! The Fish Shanty closed after 37 years of business in 1988. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1989.

It's rather sad that most of the FUN buildings in Los Angeles are gone or obscured. Real estate in L.A. is at a premium and developers must cram as many businesses as possible into a plot of land. Sigh.  
In place of the Fish Shanty is a large apartment, restaurant and Trader Joe's complex. Yes, it is an architecturally pleasing building, but nothing compares to walking through the whale's mouth to enjoy a yummy Lobster Neuburg.
This development occupies the former Fish Shanty property

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