Johnie's Coffee Shop
The beloved Johnie's Coffee Shop at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax was officially designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) on November 27, 2013. The Los Angeles Conservancy and it's Modern Committee nominated Johnie's in June of that year.
On November 19, the Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee approved recommending the official designation of Johnie's as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). The HCM nomination was submitted by the Conservancy and our Modern Committee, with the help of architectural historian Alan Hess.
Johnie's was eligible for listing as an HCM as a representative work of the renowned architecture firm of Armet & Davis and as a significant remaining example of Googie coffee shop architecture in Los Angeles.
The City's Cultural Heritage Commission also supported the nomination. It voted unanimously on June 6 to accept and take the nomination under consideration, then recommended designation at its August 15 meeting.
The Conservancy worked closely with the owners of Johnie's and their representatives to garner support for the HCM nomination. We will continue working together to address the long-term preservation of Johnie's.
During the 2016 Presidential Election, Johnie's became the headquarters for Bernie Sanders' campaign, the building was once again used when Sanders ran for the 2020 presidential election.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) announced plans to purchase (or require a construction easement for) Johnie’s to facilitate staging for the construction of a new Wilshire/Fairfax station as part of the Westside Subway Extension project.
While Metro acknowledges the significance of Johnie’s and doesn’t plan any modifications for the building, landmark designation ensures that it receives strong protection from demolition and inappropriate alterations in the future.
The nomination was prepared by architect and author Alan Hess, whose books Googie and Googie Redux are considered the seminal guides on Googie and California coffee shop architecture. Hess also wrote the essay Everyday Modernism, featured on our Curating the City: Modern Architecture microsite.
The former restaurant, which closed in 2000, is currently owned by the Gold family (founders of 99cents Only Stores) and used for location filming. The Conservancy has worked closely with the owners to find viable longterm options for the building.
Johnie’s Coffee Shop remains one of the most prominent surviving examples of a Googie restaurant building in the city of Los Angeles and was a featured site on the Conservancy’s 2005 tour Curating the City: Wilshire Boulevard.