Googie architecture was born of the post-WWII and was influenced by both car culture and the Space and Atomic Ages. Originating in Southern California during the late 1940’s, the types of buildings that were most frequently designed in a Googie style were motels, coffee houses and bowling alleys. Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon.
In the 1950’s in Southern California the transformation of Googie was first
noticeable in the California Coffee Shop –
a restaurant with dramatic roofs, hovering above the glass walls of the dining area.
The NORMS on La Cienega, near Melrose, was opened in 1957 and is the oldest
NORMS in operation. It is a classic example of the 1950’s Modern American Coffee
Shop architecture and won the National Restaurant Association’s design award at
that time. It was designed by Eldon Davis of Armet, Davis & Newlove Architects,
Santa Monica, the firm that became the acknowledged master of the California
coffee-shop style. NORMS Huntington Park on Slauson Ave., near Pacific, follows
still operating today and is considered Googie architecture.
NORMS highly recognized “Saw Tooth” Pennant Sign was designed for the
La Cienega Restaurant on a napkin by Norm Roybark and Eldon Davis. The pennant NORMS sign appears in 13 of out 18 restaurants and it is considered to be ”Googie” in style.
In 2003 NORMS stayed true to our Googie heritage with the relighting of our historic signs. In May of 2003 we held a symbolic Torch Run by the Special Olympic Athletes and Law Enforcement Agencies with a ceremonial re-lighting of the historic NORMS signs. Coordinating La Cienega, Westwood and Santa Monica Special Olympic athletes ran down La Cienega, Pico and Lincoln Boulevards, guided by law enforcement officials with the passing of the torch ending at each location with the relighting of the “Saw Tooth” pennant, and heralding the start of the 2003 Summer Games. In October of 2003 a symbolic torch run was held by students from Bellflower High School again with the relighting of the sign at the Lakewood location. NORMS La Cienega, Lakewood, Santa Monica and Westwood “Saw Tooth” signs are all “Washing and Flashing” Neon signs that are Googie style and have come to symbolize NORMS has a Southern California landmark signifying good food and good service.
In 1999 the Santa Monica City Council awarded the sign “Meritorious “status, protecting it as a Los Angeles icon.
Today, the “Saw Tooth” Pennant Sign is often out of compliance with planning departments but we always petition for a variance as we build more restaurants.