Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Retro Nuevo Googie

Cruising the Boulevard


I'm calling the architecture of the new Norm's Restaurant in El Monte "Retro Nuevo Googie." Googie architecture has been defined as space age, atomic, having dramatic and soaring angles and geometric shapes, utilizing a lot of glass, steel and neon. The term was coined after a John Lautner designed coffee shop in Los Angeles called "Googies." Another feature of this Googie style was to bring the burgeoning car culture patrons of the post-WW II period out of their cars into the business. So many restaurants and coffee shops were designed in this style with huge windows so speeding cars could see customers inside, enjoying their meals.
The new Norm's in El Monte achieves all of the above. The restaurant faces Valley Boulevard, a major thoroughfare. The windows of Norm's are large enough so you can easily view the inside from your car. The architectural style definitely mimics the original Googie style of the famous Norm's on La Cienega Blvd. in West Hollywood, down to the neon flashing sign.
Plug-In Parking Spots for Electric Vehicles

I say "Retro Nuevo," because the style is a broad interpretation of the original Googie style, using new materials. It's good, but a bit faux for me. Orange is my favorite color and they've used it liberally in this El Monte design. Paired with wood tones, gray, white and teal, the interior is clean, streamlined and interesting to the eye. I would have liked to see a bit more terazzo and patterned formica, maybe some Rocky Mountain Stone, so popular in the '50s and '60s.  

Excellent Light Fixtures

The light fixtures are great. Looks like the final landscaping around the perimeter has not been completed. We will go back in a few months to see how it looks.
Morange Lipstick and Orange Signage

Larry and I visited last Sunday, during their opening week. The place was packed at 2 o' clock in the afternoon. This particular Norm's is very large. The staff was super efficient and the food is always good here. 
Nice use of wallpaper that echoes the tiles

Cashier Counter and Linoleum in Waiting Area

Soffit over counter area
I did not take a photo of the folks sitting at the counter. This was a major fail for me. The counter had movable, uncomfortable metal stools placed at the edge. I would have liked to have seen built in, upholstered counter seats like all traditional coffee shops. I suppose the area is more flexible this way. Also, the free-standing chairs at some of the tables looked like outdoor, patio chairs. Reproductions of Eames molded plastic chairs are readily available, however, they are probably more expensive.

Once the grand opening balloons pop, the interior will improve
A pictorial history of El Monte landmarks. Where's the historic El Monte Legion Stadium? #rock'roll
Since it was 2 in the afternoon and we'd had a late breakfast, Larry and I just split a snack. He loved his milkshake! Even though the place was packed, our server was attentive and speedy!


All in all, they did a good job with the design on this modern version of Norm's Restaurant.  I only have some minor decorating problems as stated above. We shall definitely return.

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