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cafEtales restaurant (1957)

Martin Stern, Jr.

The advent of the automobile in Los Angeles led to a space-age retro futuristic architectural style. Critic Douglas Haskell coined the term 'Googie' to describe it in 1952 after Googie's Coffee Shop, built in 1949 on the corner of Sunset Strip and Crescent Heights. Googie’s was demolished in 1989, but the style was popular for small commercial buildings, coffee shops and car washes. Hallmarks of Googie architectural style include tapered columns, spires, and sweeping roofs shaped like flying saucers and spaceships. Often there were tropical landscapes. Buildings were rendered in futuristic colors - turquoise, avocado, and orange. The style inspired Disneyland's Tomorrowland and the Jetsons television cartoon.

Inglewood embraced the Googie architectural aesthetic, sporting four Googie coffee shops, a bowling alley, drugstore, motel, and three car washes. Only one Googie coffee shop – Cafetales – and one Googie car wash - Jet Car Wash - remain intact.

The coffee shop, now known as Cafetales Restaurant, has been through several incarnations since the late 50's. Originally named Sherri's, this coffee shop was next called Farmer’s Restaurant then rechristened GG’s until it closed in 2008.

Cafetales’ paint has dimmed, but its sign, design, and interior details, including rocks and space ship allusions, remain to remind of us of the Googie style.