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Arts and Entertainment

Long-Closed Johnie's Coffee Shop To Re-Open For One Night As 'Bernie's Diner'

Feel the Bern. (Photos courtesy of Hidden LA)
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Johnie's Coffee Shop, a long-closed and oft-filmed Googie-style diner on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, will be reopening briefly tonight as "Bernie's Diner" in honor of the presidential hopeful. Muralists will graffiti the word "Bernie" and paint a portrait of the candidate during the event, which starts at 7 p.m. The diner, which has already been decorated with a number of Bernie-related images in recent days, has appeared in many iconic films, including Reservoir Dogs and The Big Lebowski.

Colonel... Sanders. Get it? (Photo courtesy of Hidden LA)
The one-night-only event, which is being organized independently from the official campaign by a grassroots group that calls itself "Bernie's Avengers," will also feature a "long list" of celebrities, speeches and food trucks, according to spokeswomans Ilene Proctor. Artists decorating the building's exterior and windows include Cre8 and KEO, along with Mexican-American muralist Dionisio Ceballos."It will be pandemonium," Proctor told LAist. Shailene Woodley and Frances Fisher are among the boldface names expected to attend.

Johnie's, which was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2013, is owned by the Gold family, whose father Dave Gold founded the 99 Cents Only Stores chain. Dave Gold's son Howard Gold has been feelin' the Bern, and originally offered up the location as a base for phone banking and canvassing. Gold previously made headlines for his Sanders support last month: while his next door neighbor George Clooney was throwing a multimillion-dollar party for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Gold opened up his home to Sanders supporters for the "99% Party," a fundraiser/protest event/pool party with tickets priced at a mere $27.

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Built in 1956 and closed since 2000, Johnie's is considered to be one of L.A.'s premier examples of Googie architecture—a futurist-influenced Eisenhower-era style that originated in Southern California, and left many a Space Age coffee shop in its wake. Other notable remaining examples of Googie architecture in L.A. include Inglewood's Pann's Coffee Shop and the Norm's on La Cienega Boulevard, both of which were also designed by Armet & Davis, the firm behind Johnie's. These futuristic buildings were, as Alan Hess wrote in Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, "places where George Jetson and Fred Flintstone could meet over a cup of coffee."

(Photo courtesy of Hidden Los Angeles)
According to Hidden Los Angeles proprietor Lynn Garrett, who is deeply involved with L.A. preservation efforts and is also familiar with the Gold's efforts, architecture buffs and Johnie's lovers need not worry about Berners permanently damaging the building's famous exterior. Garrett told LAist that the Golds are devoted to the conservation of the architectural landmark, and that "everything they are doing—none of it is stuff that can't be reversed." Garrett also said that the Sanders devotees who've been using the building as a home base have also spent time cleaning it and giving it some much-needed TLC.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnie's will remain devoted to all things Sanders until the June 7 primary.

"It's time to bring this historic piece of LA's history back to life," said Howard Gold, said in a statement. "This country has lost its direction in so many ways. We are hoping that, in some small way, this will help us get back some things that society has lost, like togetherness and gratitude. This demonstration is the first of what the family believes will be a series of artistic events at this location dedicated to the improvement of mankind."

(Photos courtesy of Hidden LA)

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