You might have recognized it from the cover picture alone, and you (probably) don’t even live in LA. That’s just how well-known Johnie’s Coffee Shop is. From the Big Lebowski to American History X to a whole crap-ton of music videos, Johnie’s seems to be the go-to stop when Hollywood needs an authentic diner location. Too bad it’s not a real diner anymore…

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Johnie’s Coffee Shop slung its last burger and fries back in 2000, but 14 years later it’s still the most iconic diner thanks to being such a damn popular filming location, and people like Lindsay from iamnotastalker.com and MesyNessy still flock to the diner to capture snapshots of the empty burger joint…

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Johnie’s Coffee Shop opened in the mid-50s (then called Romeo’s Time Square) as a premier example of Googie-style architecture from architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis. The two produced tons of other iconic designs like Schwab’s Pharmacy, Norm’s Restaurant, and more. The thought for Googie-style is simple… make something light up at night like a crazy-ass out-of-this-world spaceship and people will pull the car over and eat/drink/sleep there. And it worked, especially in the car-crazy 1950s and 1960s.

Sadly, 1994 was the beginning of the end for the coffee shop’s food-serving days when it was purchased by the Gold family, who owned the 99 Cents Only Store adjacent. Truth be told, they weren’t super into running a diner, but they sure wanted the parking around the diner and to capitalize a little on the place’s Googie-style. Oh, and having a place everyone wants to use for movies and music videos doesn’t hurt. 

The Gold family hasn’t let the place completely fall apart in the 14 years since they shuttered the place, even doing some restorations in 2003. They’re quick to tell people they’d like to see if functioning as a restaurant again someday, but the right opportunity just hasn’t popped up.

As we mentioned, Johnie’s Coffee Shop has been a filming location favorite since 1988’s Miracle Mile, but when it’s all said and done, our favorite movie scene ever shot at Johnie’s has to be John Goodman’s freedom speech from the Big Lebowski:

Other movies with scenes here? There are a ton… Reservoir Dogs, Very Bad Things, City of Angels (that’s when you know you’re famous… you’re in a Cage film), and American History X.

Johnie’s Coffee Shop has also been the setting for 3 very different music videos by 3 completely different artists… The first was a 1999 music video for Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s “Swingin’”…

If you fast-forward to 2004 and switch genres, you’ll notice the diner as the setting for Reba McEntire’s music video, “Somebody.”

Then things go another completely different direction with Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” in 2007…

Today Johnie’s Coffee Shop remains a popular spot for hardcore movie buffs, and most report being able to look right in the windows to snap photos and gawk. Of course, you could always say you’re a movie scout and email sharon@AuZoneVentures.com to see if you can weasel your way in for a tour…

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