Thursday, March 15, 2007

Denny's, the Congdon House, Charles Phoenix, etc.

Today's photo was taken last year at the Denny's Coffee Shop on Avenida Pico, near the freeway, in San Clemente. It's one of the few left that retains its original "Jolly Roger" font sign. The building design -- with flagstone walls, exhibition kitchen and sweeping check-shaped roof -- was created by Armet & Davis in the 1950s and was used throughout the chain. Recently, some misguided soul at Denny's corporate HQ decided that their restaurants should evoke nostalgia for the 1950s. But instead of returning to their original Googie designs (which would have evoked actual nostalgia,) they opted for a cheesy Fonzie-esque diner overlay that has more to do with Hollywood depictions of the '50s than actual mid-century design. Luckily, this particular Denny's has escaped at least some of the indignities of this chain-wide "diner-ization." (Why couldn't they have just gone back and used their original plans?)

The first wooden structure built in San Juan Capistrano -- the Congdon House -- is the subject of the latest entry at

I recently added links to sites about the Natural History of O.C. and the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians.

If you haven't seen it before, note that Terry Walsh has an article about Edward and Ned Doheny posted on the Dana Point Historical Society's website.

Charles Phoenix's entertaining uber-slideshow (with colorful running commentary) is coming back to O.C. soon. "Charles Phoenix in LA LA Land...A Krazy Kaleidoscope of Southern California Kulture in Kodachrome" will run April 13-15 at the Curtis Theater in Brea. For details visit Charles' website or the City of Brea's website.

1 comment:

Davelandweb said...

Denny’s was my first job; many fond (and some not so fond) memories. I totally agree with you on their new "faux" diner look. I have passed by this spot many a time on the way to DLand!