Where Have All the Late-Night Dining Options Gone?


There was a time when you couldn’t drive a block in L.A. post midnight without spotting the neon-lit roofline of a 24-hour restaurant. From the 1930s through the ’50s, small drive-ins and Formica-lined coffee shops with names like Ship’s and Simon’s served what was then—much more than now—a city that never slept. There were bleary-eyed milkmen, hungry actors working late at the studios, and traveling salesmen out early to catch the worm. During World War II, all-night shifts at Lockheed and Douglas kept bombers rolling off the assembly line, while drive-ins patriotically kept biscuits rolling out of the oven. Although the signs boasted Never Closes, the wrecking ball has now claimed most of L.A.’s 24-hour gems. But worry not, night owls. A few originals, including Norms on La Cienega and Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank, are still pouring cups of joe nonstop. -Alan Hess, author of Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture