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The Relighting of Manning's Coffee Shop Sign

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Last night Highland Park residents came out to celebrate the relighting of Manning's Coffee Store neon sign. This is the second sign--after the Highland Park Theatre sign--to be restored through the efforts of community leaders and organizations, including Nicole Possert, Amy Inouye, the Highland Park Heritage Trust and the North Figueroa Association. While Manning's is long gone, the sign has remained sitting above what is now El Salvadorean restaurant Las Cazuelas.

Residents wait for the sign to be lit once again.
Residents wait for the sign to be lit once again.

According to the press release Manning's was founded in Seattle in 1908.

The Manning brothers started with a coffee and tea stand at Pike Place Market, eventually adding food service. In the 1920s the company expanded, adding large scale bakeries and institutional food service to their coffee and tea distribution. At its height, 40 Manning's cafeterias and restaurants existed in 9 western states. The last cafeteria in San Francisco closed in 1984. There were 19 Manning's locations in Los Angeles.
Diagram of the Manning's Coffee Shop sign drafted by Richard Ankrom
Diagram of the Manning's Coffee Shop sign drafted by Richard Ankrom

The sign's technical restoration was a collaborative effort and according to local city planner and preservationist Frank Parella, a meticulous process due the sign's disrepair. Using flecks of paint that accumulated at the base of the sign, he and sign painter Richard Ankrom were able to match the colors to the appropriate PMS color. Through consultation with the Museum of Neon Art, the residue in the pieces of neon tubing that remained led them to the original colors. The original opal glass was recovered and very little had to be replaced. Local electrician Victor Mendoza rewired the sign.

Highland Park Theatre.
Highland Park Theatre.

Funding for the restoration was provided by the National Park Service, the Los Angeles County Preservation Fund, as well as individual donations collected by Future Studio. While Figueroa Street may not return to its neon glory days (as seen below), the community pack of residents and organizations looks ahead. Maybe the Highland Hotel sign on the Swap Meet's facade or the Dress sign (or perhaps it's the Cress sign according to Parella) above Noel's Hair Salon--just one sign at a time.

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