Norms Gets a New Lease on Life

Norm's Restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard
Norm’s Restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard

It looks like Norms will live on. Jason Illoulian, the West Hollywood developer whose Faring Capital last month bought the La Cienega Boulevard property on which the restaurant sits, says he envisions it as the centerpiece of a “community of shops” like that at the Brentwood Country Mart.

In an interview with Los Angeles Magazine, Illoulian said the Googie style restaurant at 470-478 N. La Cienega Blvd. “is such a beautiful building, and that sign is just like f–king awesome.”

“We’re hoping to keep it as a 24- hour diner,” Illoulian told L.A. Magazine. “Whether it’s Norms or somebody else.”

Mike Colonna, of Restaurant Management Group, which bought the Norms’ chain, says his company wants to keep running the La Cienega location.

The Norms on La Cienega, just south of Melrose, was designed by architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis and opened in 1957. The L.A. Conservancy says: “Norms La Cienega is an exuberant example of the California coffee shop type and an expressive Googie masterwork. ”

The eccentric Googie style takes its name from a coffee shop called Googie that was at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards in the 1950s. Today, in addition to Norms, a major example of the Googie style is Mel’s Diner at 8585 Sunset Blvd. just west of Londonderry Place in West Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Conservancy has mounted a campaign to preserve the building, with an online petition

The L.A. Culture Heritage Commission will decide at a meeting on March 19 if the building must be preserved while it moves through the process of being nominated for a historic / cultural monument designation. That process could take several months, and the final decision is up to the Los Angeles City Council.

“We’re hoping to keep it as a 24- hour diner,” Illoulian told L.A. Magazine. “Whether it’s Norms or somebody else.”


  1. Illoulian has an opportunity to be the saving grace that Wayne Ratkovich has been for this city. What will his legacy be? A big box building developer? Or someone who understands the people of this city, all of them? There is an opportunity here. It’s just a matter if Illoulian and Craig Hodgetts are smart enough to take it, or will continue to make this city for the 1%.

  2. The “owner” before Jason Illoulian was Michael Illoulian (brother?) under “Norman Cienega Property Group” – the same Illoulian who pulled a demo permit on Norm’s which sparked the social media frenzy.

    This Jason Illoulian and his company Faring Capital is the developer behind tearing down The Factory in West Hollywood.

    He has no interest in historic preservation, only that this time his feet were held to the fire. And clearly, him being the new “owner” is a family political move for this Illoulian to be for the people and for historic preservation. Hey, maybe it’s true? Jason Illoulian will be the Illoulian wanting to incorporate historic buildings into new development instead of the all-or-nothing development approach. Wishful thinking?

  3. No developer these days can create an authentic space based on something they are intent on mimicking without it looking like a poor attempt at Disneyland. We simply don’t have craftsman thought or talent accessible to bloated developers with little consciousness or imagination.

    The charm of places like The Chapman Marketplace on 6th & Alexandria and also Brentwood Country Mart is special, appreciated and patronized by locals and visitors alike.

  4. I agree with “SaveWeho”…..Convenient free surface parking connected to a business is best. But it looks like around here that’s a thing of the past.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they just clean this place up (it smells like dirty wet rag) and keep it as is. That would be special. But with this developer, that’s never going to happen.

    Maybe I should hold my nose and finally try the place out before it becomes another “like f–king awesome” construction site.

  5. I think this is really sad. I believe part of the appeal of Norm’s is it’s an “easy” place to park. You don’t have to worry about meters, paying to park or valet. Its a place for locals to get their comfort food. Once the ease is gone…people won’t go.

    Same thing happened to Mel’s Diner on Sunset when they lost their parking lot. The fancy stores enclosed around it…and Mel’s kind of lost its appeal with the locals. Now it’s a tourist highlight on one of the annoying LA bus tours.

    The new owner has no interest in preserving history. You can tell in the LA Curbed article by the way he speaks. He knows nothing about LA and doesn’t revere it at all. He’s probably quite upset he can’t tear it down now.

  6. I read the LA Magazine article. The plan is to make it into some “authentic” version of Abbot Kinney. But it won’t be authentic anything. And it will be built on Norm’s parking lot. That lot is often full. So where will all the diner and shop customers park? I’m glad the building will be preserved but I’m skeptical about the current plans. I think they overpaid for the property – more than $10 million. Now the developer has to figure out how to squeeze that back out of the tenants. Ugh.

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