Planning Department's Office of Historic Resources thinks the 57-year-old restaurant deserves the consideration and if the commission agrees on Thursday, the OHR staff will move forward on the proposal.
Built in 1956 and located at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the one-story restaurant exhibits "character-defining" features of Googie-style architecture, according to the staff report.
Johnie's (originally "Romeo's") opened in 1956. It was designed by Armet & Davis, the architectural firm that was "extremely influential" in the development of the Googie style and the California Coffee Shop. Beginning with their first coffee shop design in 1951, Armet & Davis designed several notable Googie coffee shops for chains such as Norm’s, Pann’s, Ship’s, as well as Denny’s and Big Boy.
Johnie's closed in 2000 but has been the setting for countless movies and TV shows, probably most notably The Big Lebowski and American History X. The coffee shop is owned by the company that owns the neighboring 99-Cent store, which uses it as an overflow parking lot.
The Cultural Heritage Commission has approved several restaurants and several Googie-style structures for Cultural-Heritage designation. It is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Room 1010.
The designation is being sought by the LA Conservancy. Johnie's still needs several rounds of hearings and approvals (including ultimately City Council approval) before it can achieve the Historic-Cultural Monument designation.
Los Angeles Planning Department Case Tracking:
Office of Historic Resources staff report.
LA Conservancy "Important Issues" website: Johnie's Coffee Shop:
Wikipedia entry on Johnie's Coffee Shop: