Driftwood Drive-Thru Dairy | Los Angeles Conservancy
Altered signage as it looks today. Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Driftwood Drive-Thru Dairy

In March 2012, following wind damage to the acrylic portions of the freestanding pole sign that is part of Driftwood Dairy’s original design, the property owners altered the signage without any permits or design review from the City of El Monte. On April 24, 2012, El Monte Planning staff subsequently issued a compliance citation order, although the uppermost and largest portion of the signage was never recreated.

The Conservancy's Modern Committee nominated Driftwood Dairy for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources in 2007-2008. 

In fall 2007, Driftwood Dairy’s new owners announced plans to replace the drive-thru with a new retail strip and office development, prompting the Modern Committee to nominate it for landmark designation. The State Historic Resources Commission voted unanimously in November 2008 to determine the dairy as eligible for listing in the register.

Although the new owners had pledged to “vigorously oppose” the nomination, they did not show up for the final hearing in Sacramento. Conservancy staff testified at the hearing, along with Modern Committee representatives and the nomination’s author, Teresa Grimes of Christopher A. Joseph & Associates.

A local nomination for the drive-thru is currently not possible because the City of El Monte does not have a historic preservation ordinance in place (the city received an “F” grade in our 2008 Preservation Report Card).

The Conservancy believes the Driftwood Drive-thru Dairy is an outstanding example of a Space Age style drive-thru dairy with notable pole signage. It reflects both the height of space-age design and the influence of the automobile in shaping retail methods and signage.

To help protect this unique structure, which is one of very few drive-thru dairies that are still intact in Los Angeles County, the Conservancy’s Modern Committee commissioned a nomination for the drive-thru dairy for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources.