Pann’s is a decorative crazy quilt: part medieval grotto (ponderous stone walls), part spaceship-boomerang panache, and part plush tailfin automobile upholstery. In other words, it is a perfect example of what is known as Googie style, aka Do-Wop design, that thrived in mid 20th century America, especially in Southern California.
Like the place itself, the menu is a nostalgic wonderland of such coffee shop classics as roast turkey with cornbread stuffing, liver and onions, chicken & waffles, mile-high layer cakes, and tapioca pudding. Beverages include milk shakes and malts, strawberry lemonade, and root beer floats. If you order coffee, the uniformed waitress corps will top it off approximately every 90 seconds.
Fried chicken is a house specialty, and while it is not in the same league as the elegant, melt-in-mouth versions found in Kansas City, it does come enveloped in a dark gold crust as luxurious as crisp bacon. Mashed potatoes are real, available with white gravy, brown gravy, or country sausage gravy. Pann’s is proud of its buttermilk biscuits, served with butter and bubble packs of honey. Unlike fluffy southern-style biscuits, these are dense and heavy. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. Their avoirdupois is a style unto itself.
Pann’s does not serve the greatest food in Los Angeles, but it is one of the greatest places. If you appreciate extreme restaurant design, there is no more stunning example of SoCal coffee shop.