Demolition permit for Norms restaurant spurs historic monument campaign

The owner of Norms restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard obtained a demolition permit on Jan. 5, spurring a campaign to designate the site a historic monument.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Norms restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard -- considered a model of Googie architecture with its vaulted roof and neon sign -- may face the wrecking ball unless a city commission decides Thursday whether to take up its status as a historic monument.

UPDATE: City commission to review Norms’ historic and cultural monument status

Owners of the restaurant obtained a demolition permit on Jan. 5 from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, according to online permit records.


On Thursday, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission will decide whether to initiate the process of designating the restaurant a historic monument.

Launching the review process would shield the building from demolition in the interim, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, which submitted the historic monument application for Norms in December.

Built in 1956, the 24-hour coffee shop was designed by Louis Armet and Eldon Davis, whose Armet & Davis architecture firm rolled out buildings with soaring roofs and kitschy neon lights.

The pair dreamed up blueprints for other Southern California-launched chains such as Denny’s and Bob’s Big Boy, and corporate expansions took the Googie style national.

But such Googie buildings are “exceedingly rare,” giving urgency to saving the Norms, said Adrian Scott Fine, advocacy director for the Los Angeles Conservancy.

“They’re really symbolic of Southern California postwar culture,” Fine said about Googie buildings.


If the five-member commission decides to start the review process -- which may entail a site visit to Norms -- a second hearing would see a vote on whether to recommend the restaurant as a historic monument.

Regardless of the commission’s recommendation, the City Council would make the ultimate decision.

The owner of the site, Norman Cienega Property Group LLC, purchased the property in December, according to the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor.



Jan. 15, 3:23 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said that John Neidlinger, Allan Dempster and Pacific Palisades-based KDM Holdings LP owned Norms restaurant’s property site on La Cienega Boulevard, according to city documents. JDM Holdings LP, whose registered agent is Neidlinger, no longer owns the site and transferred the property to Norman Cienega Property Group LLC on Dec. 11, according to the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor.


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