20 Oct Norm’s LA
Norm’s restaurant and diner is an iconic fixture in the cultural history of Los Angeles. For a sign geek driving around LA, how could I pass up snapping some shots of this classic sign that evokes all the best of the mid-century modern aesthetics. I knew I had to paint this beauty. And it only took me six year to get around to it, but here it is!
Now a bit of history. What a great story of American entrepreneurship! In 1949 a used car salesman named Norm Roybark decided to switch professions and open a diner that would be open 24/7. Los Angeles was the perfect spot for folks of all stripes to catch a bite at any hour of the day or night. (And the same is true today).
The first Norms opened on Sunset and Vine in 1949, followed in 1957 by what is now the oldest surviving of the chain on La Cienega Boulevard. This location has now been declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #1090. How cool is that? A fitting distinction for a cultural icon from that time period. Norm went on over the years to open a total of 20 Norms restaurants all over the Los Angeles area, making this one of the most beloved chains by folks of all ethnicities.
What interests me the most aside from the fabulous Googie architecture is the sign. This bold sawtooth pennant sign was a co-creation of the founder Norm Roybark and architect Eldon Davis. As with so many great designs, they worked up the first sketch on a napkin! The two designers of the whole shebang (the restaurant itself and the sign) Louis Armet and Eldon Davis let their imaginations wild in creating a sign and building that reflected the Googie sentiments of the times. They aptly said, “Everything that isn’t zigging can safely assumed to be zagging”.
I applaud these innovators from a time gone by who were appealing to the space-age, motorist-oriented Los Angeles clientele. Thank goodness they have continued to thrive and we wish them many more years of success.