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Developers Want To Build Trendy Shops Around Norms

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Norms (Photo by Alex Thamer via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Plans for Norms, the Googie-style diner La Cienega, may include building things around it, and those things might be fancy clothiers, cold-pressed juice bars and trendy shops.There's been a lot of speculation as to what might happen to Norms on La Cienega since the building and land was sold, and it appears we may now have an answer. Jason Illoulian, a developer with Faring Capital, told Los Angeles Magazine's Chris Nichols that the plan is to build a number of shops in Norms' parking lot. The feel of these shops would be something akin to Abbot Kinney or the Brentwood County Mart.

Illoulian said he does like the look of Norms and said the sign is "just like fucking awesome." He intends, for now, to continue to use the building as a 24-hour diner, though it may not remain a Norms. In short, it sounds like everything will just be built up around Norms, and Norms will either remain the same or turn into some fancier iteration of its former self. Ultimately, Illoulian said he's just trying to "build cool shit that people will want."

Mike Colonna, who became the president of Norms' when Jim Balis bought the chain from the Roybark family in 2014, wants that location to stay a Norms. He's concerned about removing the parking lot, saying that Norms is not a high-end restaurant where people would valet their cars.

Architects Hodgetts + Fung are currently working on plans for the site, which include a background building that frames the current Norms, a two-story building with underground parking and a terrace next to the restaurant. Hodgetts told L.A. Magazine that he doesn't really think Norms is the appropriate restaurant for the changing area, though he does acknowledge a "hipster component" that has a lot to do with the popularity of Mad Men. He believes those people have never actually been to Norms to eat, but enjoy the look and idea of it. Norms was actually intended for those consumers who are "really happy and content with the generic In-N-Out Burger type of place."

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There had previously been a movement to save the coffeehouse after the new buildings owners filed for a demolition permit in January. The Los Angeles Conservancy had already submitted an application to make the building a historic monument in December, and L.A.'s Cultural Heritage Commission unanimously voted to consider the coffeeshop a historic monument on January 15. The final decision will come March 19.

Founded in 1949 by used car salesman Norm Roybark, the Norms restaurant chain began on Sunset and Vine. The La Cienega location, which opened in 1957, is the oldest surviving Norms.