Johnie’s Coffee Shop Landmarked for its Googie Style

Johnnies
Johnie’s Coffee Shop as viewed from Fairfax. Image captured from Google Maps Street View.

Johnie’s, the “Googie” style coffee shop on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, has received historic-cultural preservation status from the Los Angeles City Council, saving it from the wrecking ball and/or Metro using it as staging site for Purple Line construction along Wilshire.

The diner has been closed to the public as an eating establishment since 2000, though it has been the location for a number of movies over the years including The Big Lebowskia and Reservoir Dogs. The structure, built in 1956 by architectural firm Armet & Davis, features an angled, butterfly-wing roof and cantilevered eaves, and is still equipped with many of its original fixtures and furnishings. Googie style architecture was designed in the 1940s through the ’60s to appeal to the automobile culture, and is seen in other diners designed by Armet & Davis including Norm’s and Pann’s.

The owner of the property is the firm Au Zone Investments No.2 which is reported to want to develop the entire site. During the City Council meeting last week, Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes the Johnie’s location, said he hopes the owners will consider reopening the coffee shop for business. The corner is now flush with potential diners visiting LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum across the street, and would also benefit from the Purple Line station set to be built nearby.

In other Wilshire Boulevard news, the “Variety” name was removed from the 5900 Wilshire Blvd skyscraper that bore the name. Penske Business Media, LLC, which owns the film and television publication, is consolidating its multiple media companies into a single location, meaning “Variety” is moving out of the Miracle Mile.

Now called “5900 Wilshire”, the 30 story tower by architect William Pereira was designed in the late ’60s to reflect the style of the Los Angeles County Museum directly across the street, showcasing water features and open plazas. It was completed in 1971 prior to the 7-story height moratorium on buildings along Wilshire Blvd.

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About Julie Grist

Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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