Biff's, Los Angeles 1954
W. "Tiny" Naylor (the nickname Tiny came from him being six foot four and weighing 320 pounds) started Biff's (his son's name) in 1948. The Tiny Naylor chain started in 1957 at Wilshire and Virgil in Los Angeles. Tiny Naylor died in 1959.This Biff's menu cover was created by George McManus.
"Biff's Coffee Shop, a circular restaurant designed by noted Googie-style architects Armet & Davis, opened in Oakland at the tail end of the "Populuxe" era. As defined by Thomas Hine in his book Populuxe, Googie fit into the post-war optimism that lasted until 1964, the final year of the New York World's Fair. Not long afterwards, America plunged into an orgy of Early American and Environmentalist design influences, leaving these odd space-age architectural anomalies to stand out in the landscape like crashed UFOs.
Biff's did a fine business into the 1980s when it eventually became J.J.'s Diner, but then closed after four more years of operation. In stepped Chevron Oil, which owned the property and planned to demolish the dowdy structure to erect a gas station/fast-food/quickie-mart mutation. (McDonald's was slated to take over the food service) Into the breach rushed about 50 concerned citizens mindful that Biff's had once served as an anchor for the local neighborhood. These activists reminded the city that the place represented one of the last coffee shops from this era and one of the few in the Bay Area. Calling themselves the Friends of J.J.'s, the group sought to help market this property to prospective restaurateurs looking to take advantage of the Oakland revitalization."
Thanks to Randy Garbin for allowing us to use that extract.
Courtesy Henry Voigt Collection
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