Forever Food House

The Food House is a faded memory. Chalk it up to another place I never stepped inside. The generically named market heralded by bold deco letters was a standout on Sunset Boulevard until it was gone. Did The Food House ever really exist? Thankfully, sometimes a photograph is more reliable than memory.

Food House Market, then and now

In 1936, the Silverlake structure was built on Sunset between Edgecliff and Maltman in the Childs Heights Tract by Virgil Investment Co. The property operated as a market for over 60 years. It seems Food House Markets may have been a short lived chain in the LA area, having at least one other location on West Adams Street.

It’s unclear exactly when Food House came into the picture, but in 1940 a sign tower was constructed that would display their eye-catching vertical signage. (That tower still exists today, bearing the “99¢ Only Store” sign.) From the looks of it, Food House had great deals on all of the basic food groups: vodka, wine, and refried beans.

A one-stop shop?

In November 1960, the Silverlake Food House made LA Times headlines when a dynamic duo of masked bandits attempted a crackpot overnight heist. Using the cover of nightfall, the pair breached the grocery store via the roof. While hard at work safe-cracking, the thieves helped themselves to some late night hors d’oeuvres and beer courtesy of the Food House. Turns out, that was the extent of their robbery as the looting was interrupted by the morning market manager and the cash was left behind in the scuffle.

In 1960, the LA Times reported a bungled burglary at the Food House Market

Ultimately, like so many Los Angeles markets, the Food House shuttered. At some point in the late 90’s the signage came off the building and the letters sat on the roof for a while. Then in 1999, a 99¢ Store took over and the rest is history… for now.

The Hand Writing is on the Walls

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It tells you where to park, what’s for sale, or how much for a haircut. I may not go in for the advertised clutch job or psychic reading, but I’m sold on the peeling-paint fonts and colorful crooked letters that make the walls come to life. A field trip through the city is a walk through a typographic gallery. It’s as if these walls can talk.

Check out our urban typography mini journal here http://etsy.me/1z0VNzF . Perfect for recording field notes on your urban rambles.

Nutel Motel Is suddenly No-tel Motel

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Up until a few months ago, you’d be driving east on 3rd toward downtown LA and see the prominent Nutel Motel sign, wide strips of plastic signage above billboard lettering mounted on a massive pole.  Nutel, a phenomenal name for a motel.  Not that I would have wanted to stay overnight in tacky stucco multilevel motel below the sign.  But the name was brilliant wordplay, stupid and brilliant at the same time.  Now, however, Nutel the sign is gone.  First high winds punched holes in the Nutel part, then the sign was completely replaced, name and all.  The motel remains but Nutel is no longer there.

Life is a lot different for the Moytel, located further east, on the north end of downtown’s Chinatown.  The Moytel, a seemingly Yiddish-Chinese interpretation of a standard motel, looks from the outside to be decently kept up.  Maybe they’ve even evicted the bedbugs, something I doubt the Nutel and its successor never attempted.