WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — It’s Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, two days after Christmas. It’s hovering in the mid-60s outside. We’re in West Hollywood, Calif., where a modern-day, Southern California sun-tinted version of a Norman Rockwell painting plays out every morning at 470 N. La Cienega Blvd.
We’re at Norms, and the people are hungry.
What’s on the menu? Pretty much everything. We’re at Norms, buddy. There are around 150 different menu items.
The Clubhouse is a classic: a triple-decker sandwich constructed of white bread and strata of turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato. A T-bone steak and fried shrimp for dinner? Of course. How do you want that cooked? If you want a classic meatloaf lathered in gravy, you can have that too (or just make it at home).
But if you’re like most, you’re here for breakfast. Two eggs, ham, two strips of bacon, two links of sausage, hash browns and hotcakes will set you back ... $8.99.
Breakfast at a diner is comforting. The meal, the setting, the people and the experience are all reliable. It’s why actor Peter Stormare has been coming here for 22 years. His weekly breakfast at Norms includes three eggs, home fries and four strips of bacon.
“It’s pretty much always the same here and I think that’s what people like about Norms,” Stormare said.
Smiling beside Stormare is Ruthie Krocker. She’s been a waitress at Norms for 44 years. Her name tag reads “Mama Ruthie.” As Jenn Harris writes, “This is the face you want to see first thing in the morning.”
The company that bought Norms restaurants six years ago is expanding the brand. How the 70-year-old chain plans to stay the same to get ahead.
Krocker has come to love the rhythm and tempo of the diner, from the frenetic ballet in the kitchen ...
... to the clatter of plates and silverware, punctuating the perpetual hum of the dining room.
As one wave of satisfied diners leaves, another group of hungry hopefuls is ushered in.
All the while, smiles served by all.
Life is indeed happening at Norms.