Vintage Pioneer Chicken Sign Heading to Museum
The chicken chain grew to more than 270 stores by 1979 when the franchise pictured above opened on Olympic near Fairfax. The restaurant had big glass windows, brick veneer, and an enormous rooftop sign made from vacuformed plastic and featuring the chain’s mascot Pioneer Pete driving a chuck wagon.
Tommy Gelinas honors the history of the San Fernando Valley at his Valley Relics museum in Chatsworth. They cast a wide net that captures artifacts from the entire history of the valley, including the fast food era. The Olympic Boulevard sign was one of the last Pioneer Pete figures left in the wild and Gelinas thought it belonged in a museum so he made a deal with the restaurant owner. “He gave me a bunch of tokens, outfits, original cups from the 70s,” Gelinas said. He had everything but the backlit plastic on the roof. The revolving sign kept blowing in the wind– until last month when it was spotted on eBay. The business owner was gone but the property owner was preparing to remodel the empty space for a new tenant – Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
“Hundreds of emails came in when that auction came up,” Gelinas told me. “There are Valley Relics watchdogs everywhere.” The museum met with the property owner who ended the eBay auction and awarded them the piece. The museum has arranged with a crane company to remove all traces of Pioneer before Coffee Bean moves in. “I take anything original,” Gelinas said. “I never leave anything behind. Not a can, not even a spark plug.”
TAGS: COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF, FRIED CHICKEN, H.R. KAUFMAN, PIONEER CHICKEN, SIGNS, TOMMY GELINAS, VALLEY RELICS
Flea markets are filled with vintage signs and advertisements of all kinds. These little bits of history are popular in design because of the sense of nostalgia they evoke—a particular brand or logo might carry special value for a particular buyer. (But to score the best price, I wouldn’t tell the seller of my attachment, since flea market shopping is all about negotiation.) Read on to discover different types of signs and tips for finding the right one for you.
The centuries-old copyright-free images range from book illustrations to photos, and cover everything from flowers to cycling and children’s books to map.
If there’s one thing interior-decorating professionals can agree on, it’s that design trends are cyclical.
Over the last several years, home-goods traffickers have seen a sharp increase in requests for “shabby chic,” French country-inspired décor. While those same white washed woods and bleached linens are still very much a part of today’s decorating scene, savvy stylists are starting to gravitate toward rustic items with a little more grit.
Buyers want something comfortable yet unexpected — and international suppliers have had to raise the ante. As a result, articles of everyday life from yesteryear are popping up in new and inventive ways.
“This year, the difference that I saw was mixing the vintage with the industrial,”
said Terri Paul, owner of Wanderings Décor & More in Havana. Paul recently returned from a buying trip to stock her shop; she said she was impressed by the “back to basics” and “simplistic” vibe radiating
from the bustling marketplace.
Expect to see exposed tacks, repurposed fabric (such as old burlap or sail canvas), refurbished items and salvaged, lightly stripped wood. For a sustainable look, Paul recommends blending these elements into existing styles.
“You don’t want to go whole hog because it’ll start to look like your grandmother’s house,” joked Paul ... kind of. “Look for a few accent and staple pieces.”
Fifty-five years ago H. R. Kaufman opened the first Pioneer Chicken restaurant in Echo Park. It was a tiny take-out stand in the parking lot of Pioneer market (now Lassen’s) on Sunset across from the drug store where he shined shoes as a kid in the 1940s.