Thursday, May 5, 2011
back to the broiler
The last time I visited, the place lay in ruins. An illegal demolition attempt had been halted just in the nick of time before the buildinhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifg was totally lost. I was there the next day and surveyed the ruins of Johnie's Broiler, nee Harvey's, a much loved landmark in the City of Downey, CA. On that day, local mulled around and stared at the debris. Many fought back tears. The Broiler was a proud architectural landmark, a place that had become part of the fabric of the community. Nearly everybody had a connection to the Broiler and a story about it. Countless couples had been on dates there and raised their families in the shadow of the red Broiler sign, and there it lay in ruin.
And then something amazing happened. People didn't give up. The Friends of Johnie's and the Los Angeles Conservancy and other conservation groups worked with the city of Downey to find a way to restore the Broiler instead of allowing demolition. Rallies and fundraisers were held. The pressure was kept up until good news was announced- Jim Louder of Bob's agreed to lease the property and the City participated with development funds. The unanticipated result is that the Broiler rose from the ashes.
I was there on Sunday taking pictures, and was so captivated by the flavor of the resurrected Broiler that I went back Sunday night to capture the signage. It looks great, it feels like the old Broiler again and it was packed with people. It's not a perfect restoration but rather a very sensitive adaptive re-use. The look is great and the functionality is actually improved. Wow, this story actually has a happy ending. Many thanks to all who took part- the City of Downey, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Friends of Johnie's, and the Coalition to Save & Rebuild Harvey's Broiler. It's a bitchin' place!
More photos of the demolition here
And of the restored Broiler here