Dine Like It's '59 - Page 6

12 California restaurants that savor dishing up the mid-century experience
Retro Dine
Retro Dine

5 I Norms Restaurant

Los Angeles

With 18 locations, ranging from Anaheim to Whittier—but not all sporting a classic, Googie look—Norms remains a true success among the classic California coffee shop chains.

The location on La Cienega near Melrose Avenue has been named a city historic-cultural monument, a place that, in the words of one city councilman, is "not just culturally significant, but culturally uniting."

And besides that, Norms serves food: porterhouse steaks, immense ice cream sundaes, 'omelettes' (as they call them), and hotcakes.

The chain got its start in 1949 when Norm Roybark opened Norms number one at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood as the 24-hour operation the chain remains.

Like Pann's, the La Cienega location is an Armet and Davis creation, designed by Eldon Davis, and it remains the oldest Norms still operating, from 1957. It was on La Cienega that Norms' now famous saw-tooth pennant sign was born—drawn originally on a napkin, the company says.

Because of design rules, not every city allows Norms to install such outlandish signs, the company notes. Ah, the perils of good taste!

In fact, what city wouldn't benefit from a structure like Norms? With a roof that both undulates and soars, with a glowing interior that at night can be seen for miles, and with its Naugahyde seats and booths reflecting neon from indoor signs, Norms is a feast for the senses—even before you bite into your burger.

• 470 La Cienega Blvd. normsrestaurants.com