Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Every time I go to L.A., I pass a coffee shop called Pann’s on my way into town from LAX. It’s on a wedge of land between La Cienaga and La Tijera boulevards, with a funky swooping angled roof and a crazily tilted sign. The letters that spell out “Pann’s” come in a font that’s unmistakably ‘50s.
As you all know, I love a good diner. So last Thursday, on our way into town, Christopher and I stopped at Pann’s. We sat in one of the maroon vinyl booths and had milkshakes - mine was vanilla with peanut butter and a swirl of chocolate fudge. Mmmmm...
Pann’s, built in 1956 and designed by the firm of Armet & Davis, is a prime example of the kind of California coffee-shop architecture that was exported to the rest of the country in restaurant chains like Big Boy and Denny’s. Large plate-glass windows, angled roofs, exposed stone and lush plantings all typify this style, chronicled in Alan Hess’ excellent 1985 book “Googie: Fifties coffee shop architecture.”
The restaurants evolved this way in California’s warm, sunny car-loving climate. But they seem to work in other parts of the country, too -- and I’m glad. They're so futuristic, and yet so yesterday!
Even the tiles in the bathroom at Pann's are retro.