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Legendary SoCal Diner Chain Norms Announces New, Smaller Side Project

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Upcoming Norms Junior restaurant locations will keep many of the group’s staple menu items while updating others, all with a cafe look and lots of delivery

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The Googie architecture of a Norm’s diner sign.
Norm’s on La Cienega
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Historic Los Angeles diner icon Norms is switching things up, announcing a new side-project restaurant called Norms Junior. The new-look cafe spaces will be mostly smaller in stature and will focus on a variety of Norms favorites as well as updated diner items, all with a more casual service model and and laid-back appeal. The first Norms Junior surprise opens today in West Covina.

Whereas Norms is mostly known for its iconic Googie architectuere — particularly at the historically protected La Cienega location — and around-the-clock service for things like patty melts and pancakes, the new Norms Junior will offer updated menu items like breakfast sandwiches, combo meals, and burgers and mozzarella sticks and the like for lunch and dinner. The opening menu is below.

While the West Covina location at 501 N. Azusa Avenue was formerly a regular Norms, ownership tells Eater that future Norms Junior outlets will likely carry a reduced footprint, and all will focus more heavily on delivery and takeout. The company still has several “regular” Norms diner locations still in the works as well, including upcoming openings in Rialto and Encino.

The move to a more reduced-overhead model is prescient for the times, given the proliferation of delivery apps, ghost kitchens, and changing service models across the country — and not just because of the pandemic. Southern California real estate remains prohibitively expensive for most operators, and sprawling, multi-page plastic diner menus (currently outlawed under the county’s health and safety guidelines for combating the spread of coronavirus) mean lots of product to keep on hand, even as the dining market remains uncertain. Other prominent restaurant groups, including 20-year-old Honey’s Kettle in Culver City, are leaning further into delivery-focused and reduced-footprint models at the same time.