Monday, February 18, 2008

Local Coffee Shops/Diners

The American style coffee house really took off after WW2. This was especially true in Los Angeles where there quickly developed a large concentration of googie-style coffee shops. Coffee shops were huge with family and teens. They offered much more than just coffee. In deed coffee shops offered complete breakfast-lunch-dinner selections making which made these shops more restaurants than coffeehouse. But coffee was always a big seller.
  • Rock 'n Roll Denny's
  • Ben Frank's
  • Tiny Naylors
  • Copper Penny
  • Norms

Rock 'n Roll Denny's
7373 Sunset Blvd.

Real Breakfast 24/7

This Denny's was close to the strip. Close to the clubs. Always open. Rodney ate here. Need we say more?

Denny's started in 1953 in Lakewood, California. Today there are approximately 1,500 locations nationwide including Canada and Mexico. It is one of the largest full service restaurant chains.

Denny's on Sunset was a favorite hangout of local music promoter/KROQ DJ and scenester Rodney Bingenheimer. It was conveniently located just down the street from his apartment in West Hollywood. And for a guy who liked to hang out...the perfect place to meet up with scensters.

It was located close to The Guitar Center and the Ash Grove on Sunset Blvd. Nearby were the clubs on Sunset Blvd. Parking was free and easy.

Often, bands and groupies would hang out at Denny's after the show hoping to meet a rock hero
in town.

Former site of Denny's

2008 photo: tlc

2008 photo: tlc

2008 photo: tlc

Ben Frank's
8585 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood

For many years, Ben Frank's was an 'in' dining spot on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It was casual and comfortabl. It had a great location with plenty of parking. It was close to the clubs on the Sunset Strip where people were always milling about all hours of the day and night. And Ben Frank's was open 24 hours 7.

Back in the Day

Charles Phoenix slide

Site today - Ben is now a Mel's

2008 photo: tlc

Ben Frank's was founded by Arthur Simms and his son Thomas Simms. Arthur Simms moved to Los Angeles after serving in WW2. For a time Simms ran the commissary at MGM Studios. Simms was a dashing and flamboyant man, given to wearing pink sport coats. He opened his first restaurant in 1952 with partner Bob Ehrman, a coffee shop called Ben Frank's. Two more Ben Frank's would open in the Los Angeles area. Frank Zappa would often hang out at Ben Frank's.

In 1974 he opened a sidewalk café called the French Quarter, West Hollywood. They created eateries that were essentially Americanized European cafes. Along this line, he and his partners founded Mimi's Cafe. Simms died in 2000 at age 82.

Note about googie architecture.
Today, the original Ben Frank building remains as an excellent example of googie architecture.
The main elements of Googie style architecture are: upswept roofs, curvaceous geometric shapes, exposed steel beams, starburst, futuristic shapes, and boomerang shapes. This futuristic architecture were associated with southern California car culture and the optimism of post WW2 generation. Googie went out of fashion in the mid 1960's.

2008 photo: tlc

Tiny Naylors
NW corner of La Brea and Sunset Blvd.

Tiny Naylors was one of California's original family-style restaurants founded by W.W. Tiny Naylor. Naylor got the nick name Tiny because he was 6'4" and weighted 320 lbs. His first restaurant was called Biff's - named after his son, in 1948. The Tiny Naylor chain started in 1957 at Wilshire and Virgil. Tiny Naylor died in 1959. The Naylor family also founded Du Par's which it still owns and operates.

The googie style architecture for Tiny Naylors was designed in 1949 by Douglas Honnold.

It was a great Hollywood 1950's style carhop

1974 photo

1974 photo

Back in the Day - a classic '50's drive-in restaurant

Unfortunately Tiny Naylor was demolished in 1984

The site as it looks today

2008 photo: tlc

Now the site has one of the ugliest mini-malls in town

2008 photo: tlc

Copper Penny
at NEC of Sunset and La Brea

The menus were printed on huge plastic copper pennies. They had a good breakfast.

Back in the Day

Same view today- another ugly mini-mall

2008 photo: tlc

470 N. La Cienega Blvd.,
West Hollywood

Low prices, big portions and a great location. Open 24/7, and breakfast is served all day. This is definitely - Where Life Happens. Exceeding Expectations Since 1949.

An LA googie style coffee shop institution. Since 1949. Ed Ruscha made Norms famous in the art world with his 1960s painting "Norms on Fire."

Site today- Norms is still there!

2008 photo: tlc

Norms on Fire

1964 Ed Rusha

Bob's Big Boy

This is one of the best Bob's still around. It still offers car hop service and the Big Boy Combo. Built in 1949 and designed by Wayne McCallister. It is the oldest Bob's Big Boy in the country.

2008 photo: tlc


2008 photo: tlc



Anonymous said...

Nice to see this stuff. I used to work at Tiny Naylor's in Norwalk and Marina Del Rey. I also worked at Denny's in Downey and Whittier. My Sister used to work at Bob's Big Boy in Downey.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ma'am;
Im Mr Ship's of Ships Coffee Shops
in WLA. May I corrrect some inormation on your site. Biff's
and Tiny Naylors were partnerships
with Tiny/Ship's/Ted E. Ship's left
Biff's& Tiny's and opened Ships In
Culver City Ca 1956 (Awarded for best
designed Coffee Shop). Naylor's have
purchased Du-Par's they did not start
or own it. Please look at our website
Your Site is great!!

Mr. Ship's

Pr31Woman said...

Your blog is great! I am a Hollywoodonian from the early 80's and seeing your pics brought back some great ol' memories. Thanks for sharing.


Tom Boyes said...

Loved this..I lived in Hollywood in the late 60s. I worked at the Whisky and after work we would go to Ben Franks and Tiny Naylors..Both places were the best show in town after the bars and clubs were closed for the evening..thats when these places really came alive.

Anonymous said...

i used to live 2 blocks from Tiny Naylors in Hollywood in 1961. Ate there a lot. Does anybody remember a club called the Tailspin from those days?

Anonymous said...

The new Ship's website is up.
It might be fun for people to see
older and new stuff.

Cyclone Kevin said...

Hey There Miss Go-Going ;).
It's funny to see your site as I was dragged around to each and everyone of the places mentioned by my sister back in the late 70's.

We saw people like Phil Seymore,The Knack, 20/20, Blondie, The Bangles,The Go-Go's, Great Buildings, The Ramones,The Patti Smith Group and so many others at clubs like the Starwood,Whisky,Madame Wongs Chinatown/West,Club 88, The Marquis,Troubador and others!

We hit the Capitol Records Swap meets-which were all nighters. Did the Hanging out @ KROQ on the top floor of the Hilton in Pasadena in 76-77. Knew Rodney well. Ate at every one of the Googie Eateries including Googie's.

Watched the scene decline in the 80's with developers "Killing History" and thought "How Very Sad This Is?"

I see that you're a presevationist.

Are you part of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Commitee?
It was founded as a result of the demolition of the Ships Westwood.

Because of all of this past history, we work to preserve what is left of these memories. We were fortunate enough to save Bob's Toluca Lake and most recently The former Harvey's/Johnie's Broiler.

It too is now a Bob's Big Boy which in itself is a Ca. institution. It's located in Downey and was/is a cruising hotspot when the weather co-ops ;).

It too is Googie and is on the cover of Googie Redeux by Alan Hess.
As I read your blog, it so reminded me of when one could go to a late nite place like Tiny Naylor's and eat with someone who was wrapped up in the music scene.

I noticed that you listed Fanzines in here as well. My sister headed up Future Direction along with her pal Paula and her Boyfriend had one as well, He was the band Blow-Up. I think his was called Flipside? (We're talking over 35 yrs ago now=eek!)

She also is a mother of 3 and is in a very different place of when we'd hang out behind Licorice Pizza and watch a free concert by The Patti Smith Group.

I still make the occasional trek on over to Norm's La Cienega. So many things have changed over the course of time that it all seems a blurr by now. Thanx 4 putting up this blog spot

Anonymous said...

Awesome, thank you

Anonymous said...

My high school was up the street from Bob's and when we reached senior year and could leave campus for lunch, we always ended up driving over to Bob's. It was the best burgers ever.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get in touch with Chet Naylor. I used to work for him at the Beverly Hills Cafe on La Cienega. My name is Elton. Please RSVP. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly was the Tiny Naylor's in the Marina?121

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Molly's coffee shop in the Bellflower Norwalk area back in the early sixties. My wife used to work there.

Anonymous said...

No mention of the Okie Dog on Santa Monica and Gardner across the street from Astro Burger.? That was a happening place in the 80s a virtual whos who of punkers and new wavers upcoming and arrived.

Dawn Hollywood said...

Tiny Naylor's in Marina Del Rey was a go-to hang out after the bars closed. Fond memories of having late night, early morning, breakfast there. It was located between Admiralty Way and Lincoln Blvd, right near Mindanao Way.
Anyone remember the original Don the Beachcomber on Bali Way?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the Tailspin Cocktail Lounge on Imperial Hwy in Inglewood, CA (circa 1960-1970)