Would You Care if Santa Monica Lost NORMS, Denny's?

The two Santa Monica diners were sold to developers with plans to build mixed-use projects.

The popular Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles whipped up a flurry of responses and drew memories when it said losing NORMS and Denny's restaurants in Santa Monica to mixed-use developments would be tragic.

The woman behind the page, Alison Martino wrote on Sunday: "We are losing many buildings that are already on a very congested street - Lincoln Ave between Colorado and the 10 freeway. It's not about losing Denny's that's got me in a huff - it's about over building, creating more traffic and greed!!!!"

By Monday evening, 3,610 people had clicked "like," 425 followers shared it and 1,041 posted comments.

"In 2½ years, I've never had a response like that," Martino told Patch. "It just shows how passionate people are about the buildings they grew up with."

It was unclear, based on very early plans submitted to the city, whether either of the diners will for sure be replaced—but it appears very probable.

NMS Properties, Inc. (one of the biggest apartment builders in Santa Monica) bought Denny's for $11 million in February and San Antonio-based FStar 1601 LLC purchased NORMS in August. The plans submitted to the city for the sites are for mixed-use housing and commercial projects with 100 residential units each, according to city planner Tony Kim.

Here's what the open-bid request from broker Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services said about Norm's when it was still on the market (the bid request for Denny's was similar):

The property itself is in a premier location and the site is perfect for a mixed-use redevelopment project. A new mixed-use project is in the planning stages directly across the street at the northwest corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, and several other retail, office and apartment projects are also underway nearby.

"Both locations will continue to remain open and operate for the foreseeable future as their existing uses, but these are being marketed as a potential large redevelopment projects," said Patrick Wade, of Marcus & Millichap, told Patch in February.

See also: How Would You Improve Lincoln Boulevard? and Santa Monica Now Juggling 32 Development Applications

A TV producer who started the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page after spending two decades collecting artifacts and photographs of L.A., Martino's full post was a commentary on what she says is over-development in Santa Monica and across Los Angeles.

"In the last year, we've lost so many buildings because of all these apartments [developers] want to put up," she told Patch.

(Her post mentions that Santa Monica will soon lose The Civic Auditorium, which isn't entirely true. City officials are talking about what to do with the historic building and have said they're not in favor of tearing it down.)

Here's a selection of the responses she got from followers fond of the Santa Monica's NORMS:

Ethan van Klaveren This was my grandfather's favorite restaurant. My brothers and I would go to Norms with my grandparents after church on Sundays when we were kids. I have many great memories eating pie here. Makes me sad that this will be torn down and replaced by some ticky-tacky square box monstrosity filled with douchebags driving Mercedes Benz, BMWs and Land Rovers.

Mark Williams That Norms in Santa Monica got me through every broke month when I was in my 20s, could eat there for next to nothing, it will be a shame to see it go. The coffee shops and smaller dive restaraunts on the Westside (PePe's Galley, Thomas's on Lincoln blvd. etc.) are the best.

John Lee Geez If you've ever lived in Santa Monica, these two are landmarks that transcend what you thought of the cuisine served there. Seeing the Norms sign on Lincoln meant that I was almost home after fighting my way through the 10 each evening... Even that mundane Denny's was a beacon of a place to meet folks who were coming in lost from out of town. It's not just any Denny's-- it's MY Denny's (For whatever reason I've never warmed up to Swingers down the street...). In the larger picture of progress, little things like this matter. They have to.

But some of her Facebook followers said good riddance:

Patrick Romero sorry but the loss of norms is no loss at all. i've had some of the worst meals of my life at norm's...i always felt it was the lousiest of the diner chains. unfortunately it was one of my dad's faves so i had to suffer through quite a few meals there as a child..

Ej Cat Uh, how is it "tragic" that a Denny's is disappearing? Would you also have been sad, if it were a McDonald's on that site that had been there since 1968, but remodeled numerous times over the years, instead?


— Readers, how would you feel about losing NORMS or Denny's, or both? Are you ready to say au revoirs? What would like to see in their places?  Share you thoughts and memories in the comments section below. —

Dan Charney March 04, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Smart is good- what is on turbo charge here since LUCE is anything but- Portland and Austin are good- there is no real thinking going on here- just random slapping of this and that without thought to more gridlock and already strained infrastructure
Dan Charney March 04, 2013 at 11:51 PM
We are working on it - see and join Recall Santa Monica Council on FB
Keith Martin Kaucher March 06, 2013 at 04:52 AM
We're losing Norms in it's place will be another stupid condo that what we need more people in this already over crowded town.
j pena March 19, 2013 at 03:53 AM
The City Council is corrupt and saying YES to every out of town developer and NOT considering the impact on residents. It's heartbreaking that an affordable restaurant like Norms will be torn down for more overpriced apartments, probably without parking since they've used the light rail to get around that, full of overpriced units that draw people who don't care about our community.
Frank Fields March 28, 2013 at 09:03 PM
"FStar 1601 LLC." Can you say "hedge fund"?


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