Simon’s Drive-In, Los Angeles, California Architect: Wayne McAllister

Simon's Drive In 1930sAt one time Simon’s Drive-Ins dominated the Southern California drive-in restaurant craze.  The Simon brothers had operated a chain of successful dairy lunch counters in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1935 decided to capitalize on the growing car culture of Los Angeles by opening auto friendly locations in the emerging commercial centers of Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset and Ventura Boulevards.
Wayne McAllister on

It was William Simon who decided on famed commercial architect Wayne McAllister to design their new drive-ins.  Architecturally, Simon’s Drive-Ins were a complete departure from the angular, octagonal drive-in buildings of the 1920s.  McAllister gave the drive-ins their now fondly remembered neon-lined roofs and pylons with ‘Simons’ spelled out in giant back-lit letters.  He virtually invented the Streamlined Moderne restaurant style that was to come to symbolize Los Angeles car culture in the late 1930s and throughout the 40s.

24-hour service was featured at the door-less drive-ins sporting wide canopies trimmed in metal.  The circular design of the buildings ensured that the many automobiles patronizing the establishment had ample room to maneuver, and arranged themselves at convenient angles for their signature carhop service.  Designed to be equally eye-catching at night as during the day, McAllister used both direct and reflected lighting to carefully accent the lettering and outstanding architectural elements of the buildings.


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