Saturday, February 21, 2015

Twain's in Studio City has quietly passed on...

...or so it seems.

A two week renovation....has taken months.

Twain's wasn't the best, but it will hold a special place for us. #1DinerWife and I were married across the street and still in our wedding best we walked over and they let us take pictures inside.

(I'll see if I can track one of those pictures down and post it)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New owners have demo permit for La Cienega NORMS.

From the LA Conservancy-
On January 5, the new owner of Norms applied for and received a permit to demolish the building at 470-478 La Cienega Boulevard.

Los Angeles is a cemetery of great and important mid-century buildings destroyed and buried under uninspiring gas stations, Jamba Juices and "luxury" condos. We have to save the few we have left.

  Norms on Fire by Ed Ruscha

TO HELP SAVE NORMS, please contact City Council member Paul Koretz (District 5) and ask him to support the Historic-Cultural Monument nomination for Norms La Cienega Coffee Shop! 

City Councilmember Paul Koretz 
200 North Spring Street, Suite 440 
Los Angeles, CA 90012 
Phone: 213-473-7005 

ETA - The City Cultural Heritage Commission has voted to look into the possibility of monument status. This means no wrecking balls in the near future but the fight is still on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

From LA Magazine - Norms chain sold

Norms sold.

Let's hope the new owner doesn't change a thing...except maybe the food. The food honestly could be a bit better.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How To Become a Regular.

Breaking format--

How to become a regular 

Before delving into the “how,” it is important to establish the “why.” Why would you want to become a regular somewhere? Your answer may be solely on the “free stuff” and perks spectrum. That can be a benefit that comes from this sort of relationship with an establishment. That’s certainly a choice. I personally approach it from the more romantic notion found in the TV theme song; “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” You want to have a little taste of home away from home. Who doesn’t want a friendly face that might be legitimately happy to see you? In my book, that friendly camaraderie is worth more than the possibility of a top shelf drink when you paid for well or a basket of onion rings on the house.

Now, how does one get to that point where bartenders, waiters, staff, and managers distinguish you from the myriad faces they see every day and every week? It’s not an overnight deal; it’s a process. Like any relationship, it takes work.

There are three basic steps you can take to establish yourself and hopefully be anointed with the title of “Regular.”

Half of life is just showing up. -Hunter S. Thompson

1. Be there.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? You have to go to these establishments.  You have to go to these establishments a lot.  The busier the place, the more you have to go. I have been going to the same Fantastic Sam’s (don’t judge) to get my hair cut for ten years. My woman remembers me and I only see her for twenty minutes once a month. This middle-aged Armenian woman has been in my life longer than my wife has. She’s seen the hairline recede like a glacier and has offered no comment…unlike my wife. She probably has roughly fifteen or so clients a day and over the course of a month, that’s hundreds of dudes’ hair; yet, she remembers me. It took a long time to get to that point, but when she gives me that half-scowl and silent nod of acknowledgement when I walk in, I know she knows me—really knows me. I like to think that she takes a little extra care with my hair, making my $14 haircut look like it cost nearly $20.

For some perspective, compare the face time with a stylist with that of a bartender at a popular bar. That bartender sees hundreds of people a night for only the amount of time it takes to shout out a drink order and for them to toss back that drink and some change. That’s an extreme deficit of face time. You are nothing but a blur. That bartender is not going to remember you if you only go in once a month or probably even once a week. You have to make yourself a fixture.

It’s not what we do once in awhile that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently. -Tony Robbins

2. Be consistent.

Consistency is key—two keys actually. First, consistency of time in your patronage; you can’t just go to the same place over and over again all willy nilly. Most places have staff running on different schedules. By taking a scattershot approach to your attendance, you diminish your possible returns. It doesn’t matter if you went to that coffee bar four times in one week if it wasn’t the same staff seeing your caffeine starved face each time. You might as well have gone only once and saved some dough or spread that effort over four different establishments—there’s nothing wrong with casting a wide net.  Walk into that bar every Friday at 10pm. Sit down at the counter at the diner at 8:45am every Sunday. Be there for the dinner special Taco Tuesday every…Tuesday. Once you’ve gotten a toe-hold, then you can start to vary your schedule. That busboy smiling and uttering a quick “Good-to-see-you” in front of that waiter you’ve never seen before is as good as a marker from Sky Masterson.  

Second, consistency in what you ask for is important. You want to build up to being able to say “the usual,” because if you can do that you have arrived. This can sound really boring, being locked into the same thing over and over. You will make it through this first-world problem, I promise. Slight variants are okay, even encouraged, as long as you aren’t asking the establishment to break policy. A slight variant or a bit of flourish makes your request more memorable and that feeds the goal. Your face, at that time, ordering that same thing, might just start to stick. You, yes, you can be that lunch guy that asks for horseradish on your burger every Wednesday.

And three, be nice. -Dalton, the greatest bouncer in the world.  

3. Be nice.

It’s the simplest idea in the world and sometimes it is the hardest to realize: be nice. When you walk into an establishment, be on your very best behavior. ‘Get more flies with honey,’ you know that whole deal that moms and the PSAs at the end of 80’s cartoon have said since time immemorial. Personally, I find most people to be awful.  It is hard to be pleasant to awful people. Now, imagine dealing with people if you are in the service industry. It’s a potential parade of awfulness all the live-long day. Don’t be part of that sad parade. Smile, engage in pleasantries, and try to remember names--but don’t be a creeper about it—you’re still a just customer, not their buddy.  Let me stress—don’t be a creeper.

If you have a complaint, present it not as the end of the situation but as the beginning of the steps to fix it. Remember that “please” is a very powerful word. If a place has a strict “no substitutions” policy, it’s a far better idea to NOT ask for a substitution, but if you really want to, go ahead and ask (remember the power of “please”) and if they say no, don’t push.  Forget the idea that you as the customer are always right. No one actually believes this. An establishment might placate you because it’s “good business,” but being difficult is definitely not a way to win friends. I’m not saying eat dirt or put up with poor treatment--because why would you want to be a regular at such a place?  I’m saying you, the individual, are responsible for being a gracious guest. And a good clue that you might have made it into the ‘regular’ category; they actually will do your substitution.     

Also, it should go without saying: don’t forget to tip.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Save Cindy's sign!

Kickstarter campaign

Check out the original review from years ago and pictures from my recent visit.

Edited to Add
The sign was saved but there have been some problems with communication between Kickstarter, the owners and the people donated. Hopefully it will all work out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Kettle - Manhattan Beach

It has been a long time since I've been out and about before the sun. A trip to the airport to drop off #1Dinerwife Antoinette at 5 am put me on the far westside before sunrise. Originally, I thought I'd grab breakfast at Pann's but then discovered that they don't open until 7. Then I thought about Chips, but they don't open until 6. A quick search later I found The Kettle in Manhattan Beach.


24 hour restaurants are a special breed. They are rare and have a unique gravitational pull during the night. Before fast food restaurants realized that drunks and stoners gotta eat, a 24 restaurant was really the only game in town.

Now at 5 am, when I came in, those "golden hours" of altered state eating are coming to an end. The bar crowd has stumbled away and the noble swing shift workers have wearily headed home, but it's a bit early even for the early risers. Who is out to eat at 5 am? 

The World's Best Husband, that's who! Oh and a middle-aged couple who were eating hamburgers and three teenagers who were dressed for a day at the beach. I suppose they were prepping for a full day at the beach--sun up to sunset. 

My waitress looked haggard, but I couldn't figure out if her shift was nearly ended or if she had just rolled out of bed. After needing more time with the menu, she disappeared for quite a bit. I then noticed her eating at the far end of the restaurant. Her shift was nearly done and she had no patience left.  

The Kettle's interior is woodsy, like a hunting lodge. For example, these European-style woodcuts of animals adorn all the booths.  

I think that's an interesting choice seeing as it's on the beach. "Oh man, I'm sick of this beach. I want to escape to the forest!" Boom--go to the Kettle.

The menu is extensive--covering just about everything you can imagine for an all-purpose restaurant like this. It has a full page dedicated to their wine and beer selection. The breakfasts have a few interesting items. The chocolate chip ricotta pancakes for instance, as well as the bacon fried rice (made with coconut milk), but one item stood out to me--the OEUFS PAIN PERDU. I couldn't even pronounce it. When my waitress returned from scarfing down her dinner/breakfast, I had to point to it on the menu. 

It's two eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes served with french toast stuffed with an orange marmalade cream cheese. What they don't tell you on the menu is that it's also served with a GIGANTIC bushel of parsley. Gigantic. 

It was a good breakfast. The french toast was verrryyyy fancy. It had no crusts! The bacon was perfect and my eggs were as close to over-medium as I usually can get anywhere I go (over-medium is really hard guys, but that's how I like them). The only negative was that the breakfast potatoes were underdone. 

Despite my lack-luster service and the kind of gross coffee (I got the first pour from a fresh pot and it was still not something I wanted to taste again), I enjoyed this place. The Kettle seems to be a safe bet, definitely when the moon is high and probably even when the sun is up. 
Food: Good.
Service: Decent - considering.
Price: 12-16 for breakfast.
Pie: Only cobbler.

The Kettle

1138 Highland Ave 
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266