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

4 comments:

Adriene said...

So nice to read World o' Jeff and know the Broiler is being enjoyed and appreciated! The new restaurant's been in quite a few commercials as well as an episode of "Mad Men." (We're also proud it made the cover of our book "Southern California Eats 2.")

See you at the Broiler!

Adriene Biondo

Adriene said...

So nice to read World o' Jeff and know the Broiler is being enjoyed and appreciated! The new restaurant's been in quite a few commercials as well as an episode of "Mad Men." (We're also proud it made the cover of our book "Southern California Eats 2.")

See you at the Broiler!

Adriene Biondo

Brian said...

Wow. It's so inspiring to see something like this and know there are people who care about these overlooked treasures.

cyclonequickie said...

Being part of the Coalition to Save and Rebuild Harvey's Broiler and a partner with Adriene in the save and rebuild of what we could use in the "Adaptive Reuse" has been a life changing experience.
We have continued to work very hard with Jim,Karen and Lindsay Louder in order insure that sll that come to The Brolier enjoys its existence and remain as a destination for all that seek all that is "GOOGIE".
We have a regular wednesday nite cruise at the Drive-In and we get quite kool mix of "everything" and we serve anyone who wants to eat in their car like they could when it was Harvey's.
We've had visitors from all over the world and to me that is everything! Adriene and I are stewards of the crumpled signage and we hope that it someday appears in the Museum of Neon Art=(Glendale,CA.)so that people can see what happens when this type of structure is not preserved and what can happen when a person joins a cause for something positive and brings back something for all to enjoy.