Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Corky's Retro Vibes

Charles Phoenix was at Corky's earlier this week (follow his FB page if you love mid-century kitsch) and the place looks wild.

Of course, in this instance I am defining wild as something brighter than Pepto-Bismol. Your results may vary.

Armet and Davis designed the joint--you know them, right? They designed so many Googie-style places, like the original few Norms, Pann's Coffee Shop, the Wich Stand (now Simply Wholesome), Johnie's Coffee Shop on Wilshire,  Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake, the LAX Theme Building, and more.

If you love Googie, check out this Road Trip Slide Show, courtesy of James Horecka,

Here's another photo of Corky's interior, with John Gilmore, writer, glowering at the camera of That Man Ray . . . From Venice (taken from the blog of the same name.)  Ray calls Gilmore the "quintessential L.A. noir writer," which fits since he's penned books on crime in our city, like Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder

Corky's started life in 1958 as Stanley Burke's Coffee Shop on Van Nuys Blvd, according to this article from the Sherman Oaks Patch.

(Let me just digress to say that I hope all our LA-area Patches survive the coming apocalypse, since they are a great source of community-interest articles that would otherwise be relegated to blogs like this. My fondest dream would be for Patch to thrive and be able to actually pay writers again!)

Anyway, Hal Lifson in Patch writes that Stanley Burke's changed to the always open, 24/7 Corky's in the early 60s, and stayed that way for 25 years. Billy Joel played piano there in the 70s.

Then it became the Lamplighter. And toward the end of its life as The Lamplighter, it served as a location in the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street. This picture is from the ItsFilmedThere blog, highlighting film locations in Chicago & LA. I suspect this is a screencap from the film; it shows the same booth that Mr. Gilmore sat in above.

Now it's Corky's again. With that rechristening came a retro renovation, so I do not know for sure which parts are really really new, which are original, which are imitative of the original, and which are the rich fantasies of decorators gone wild. And which photos have had the colors tweaked a bit, though I have my suspicians. But it's all good.

(BTW, there is an Inland Empire-based chain of Corky's Restaurants--not related.)

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