Johnie's Coffee Shop | Los Angeles Conservancy
Johnie's Coffee Shop
Photo by Stephen Russo

Johnie's Coffee Shop

Across from the May Company building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue stands one of Los Angeles' finest examples of the Googie architectural style popular in the 1950s and '60s: Johnie's Coffee Shop. Designed by architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis, the restaurant was built in 1956 as Romeo's Times Square, later became Ram's, and then became Johnie's in 1966; the business operated continuously until 2000.

Armet and Davis designed hundreds of buildings in Southern California but are best known for their Googie coffee shop designs, which used space-age decorative elements, dramatic rooflines, glass walls, and bright signage to attract passing motorists. Among their surviving iconic Googie designs in Los Angeles are Pann's in Ladera Heights, Norm's on La Cienega Boulevard, several Bob's Big Boys, and the corporate prototype for Denny's buildings built in the 1960s. Many others were lost as the optimistic postwar style fell out of popularity.

Although Johnie's is now only used as a filming location and its future is uncertain, for now it stands proud as a Googie icon, its sharply angled, striped-front roof, huge neon sign, and glass walls declaring its Modern heritage. It is a cheerful and irreplaceable reminder of the massive changes that took place in Los Angeles during the postwar period, as the community became an automobile metropolis that aspired to be the city of the future.

Photo from Tom Gardner Collection/Conservancy archives

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