Chips on the west, Chip’s on the east

Yesterday’s (5/16) Zippy strip shows a Zippy-like Pinhead actor playing the Zippy role in the comics; Zippy strips often advance the unsettling view that characters in the comics are, or at least can be, just roles that are played by actors, who have lives of their own, outside the strips their characters appear in. But then (as here) these Zippy strips sometimes feature such actors as characters in the strips, hence as roles that can themselves be played by actors. And so on down the surrealistic rabbit-hole.


So much for the content of the strip. My attention was immediately caught by the diner, Chips, that the Zippy-actor is studying his script in, and its arresting architecture, which cries out “L.A.!” So it is.

But a search for “Chips diner” pulls up as its first hit a set of 5 east-coast eating establishments, the Chip’s Family Restaurants located throughout Connecticut — equally offering old-fashioned diner fare, but architecturally crying out “New England!”

Chips on the west. The restaurant / diner (usually billed as a coffee shop):

(#2) (photo by Tony Hoffarth on Flickr)

From the Los Angeles Conservancy site:

Googie coffee shops like Pann’s, Johnie’s, and Norms draw the viewer in with characteristics like exaggerated rooflines, tall windows, and eye-catching signage. All have some, and some have all. Chips, on Hawthorne Boulevard in Hawthorne, has it all — but especially the signage. [On the Googie architectural style, see my 12/4/09 posting “Weekend comics 2: Googie” and its links.]

Designed by Taliesin-trained architect Harry Harrison and completed in 1957, Chips is a Googie treasure that has been in continuous operation since its opening. Its roof is not as flamboyant as that on some other restaurants, but is asymmetrically tapered in profile and angled into a zig-zag pattern in front view. Tall windows invite views into the unaltered interior, with its long dining counter and curving banquettes.

Above all, there is the signage, starting with the five steel mesh drums, each holding a letter to spell out CHIPS for all the north-bound traffic to see.

The letters are angled so they appear to shift and turn toward you as you drive past. At the corner of the building, three large steel columns thrust upward from the ground and through the roof like space-age cacti, bearing aloft a steel screen with the restaurant’s name in semi-script neon lettering. Like the drums, the columns are slightly offset to provide a sense of movement.

Aside from the addition of a small patio, Chips is in its original condition, and it is a wonderful sight to behold.

The location of Chips:

(#3) The restaurant is on Hawthorne Blvd. in Hawthorne, which is a city in southwestern Los Angeles County (see the Wikipedia entry for the city)

Chip’s on the east. The first of the Chip’s, opened in 1966 as a pancake house in Fairfield CT:

(#4) Photo of the Fairfield restaurant as it is now (from the company’s site)

Map of the sites:


The Chip’s Family Restaurants throughout Connecticut: Fairfield [on map], Orange [north of Milford, west of New Haven], Wethersfield [just south of Hartford], Southbury [north of Newtown], Southington [on map].

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