The last 2 times we were in Los Angeles I was fascinated by this Totally Googie restaurant at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax. Ever heard the expression, “lights on / nobody home”? Well that kinda describes Johnie’s Coffee Shop.
It seemed no matter what time of day or night we drove past, the sign was mostly lit up with bulbs a twinkling, but the interior was mysteriously deserted, looking like it would open up the very next day. I snapped these few photos while we were waiting at a red light but got this swell interior shot from Flickr pal Army.Arch - doesn’t that look gorgeous?
I vowed to do some research when I came home, to see what was up with this little empty coffee shop, and here’s what I found out:
Johnie’s was designed in 1955 by Helen Fong of the famed firm Armet & Davis, the folks who are thought of as inventing “Googie” style of architecture.
Googie was named after the Googie Coffee Shop, this distinctive Southern California style is know for dynamic rooflines, boomerang angles and neon accents. You can also see examples of this type of archictecture on the East Coast, namely Wildwood NJ, where they call it Doo-Wop.
Originally known as Romeo’s, the restaurant was a beacon in the night for late night diners up until it closed in 2000. It’s parking lot is now used for the 99 cent store 2 doors down (the folks who own the store have owned Johnie’s since 1994.).
But in true Los Angeles fashion, the restaurant lives on – as a filming location! Parts of movies such as Miracle Mile, The Big Lebowski and Reservoir Dogs have been filmed here
So if you’re ever driving by the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax you can snap a few photos and be thankful that they haven’t torn the place down. And when you get home keep your eyes peeled for Johnie’s in one of your favorite movies, or in a video like this one by Tom Petty:
Johnie’s Coffee Shop CLOSED but not forgotten
6101 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
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