Art imitates life imitates art with Canter’s Deli font
September 13, 2010 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Canter’s Deli font comes full circle. Graphic designer makes actual typeface family out of casual script seen on sign for classic L.A. deli, Canter’s. (Wins award!) Youngest, hippest member of the family that owns the diner later independently Googles "Canter's Deli" + font, locates type designer, then hires him to custom-design a Canter’s “gourmet food truck.” “[W]hat was interesting to me was that this whole scenario could not have happened without the magic of the Internet and search engines.”
posted by joeclark (37 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
But can he make an actual typeface family out of delicious matzo ball soup?
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:28 PM on September 13, 2010


That's a beautiful typeface.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 PM on September 13, 2010


It's like all my favoritest things! Old letters and food and the internet and then food carts, to boot!
posted by redsparkler at 9:30 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous work. I'm not big on Canter's itself (it seems to me the Pink's Hot Dogs of Jewish delis in L.A.), but that's a mighty fine truck and a great story.
posted by mykescipark at 9:35 PM on September 13, 2010


I love their corned beef hash, but can't quite abide the miasma of despair inside Canter's (especially strong around 1am, for some reason). Maybe the truck splits the difference.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:37 PM on September 13, 2010


Yeah - Canter's has great signage. But Langer's has THE best pastrami sandwich. Full stop. Mefi - stop posting stuff that makes me hungry!!
posted by helmutdog at 9:37 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Might be heresy, coming after a Langer's mention, but Brent's in Northridge is some seriously great pastrami and rye. Killer half-sours, too.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:40 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


(it seems to me the Pink's Hot Dogs of Jewish delis in L.A.)

Well put.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:40 PM on September 13, 2010


Makes me miss the Kibitz Room.
posted by cazoo at 9:44 PM on September 13, 2010


It is a beautiful type he came up with, but I was dismayed at his dismissal of the capital C in the sign. I like that C.
posted by carsonb at 9:49 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pfft. If he were a real graphic designer, he would have corrected them on their use of "font."

And obviously not gotten to design a gourmet food truck.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:54 PM on September 13, 2010


Bah, discriminatory. When I'm done with my tribute font to the local "Without Comics" store, I'm not going to get an FPP, am I? Huh?

Well, let me just tell you right now that laymen love that place.
posted by maxwelton at 9:55 PM on September 13, 2010


Holy crap. I've seen his work before.
posted by cazoo at 10:09 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cap C is what makes the original sign. Glad to see he got back to (something like) it for the truck.

And what's with the "life imitating art" banner on all the images
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:15 PM on September 13, 2010


Those suggestions above may have better food (IDK), but none of them are open at 3 am, which is the true genius of Canter's. Is there a better 24 hour deli in LA?
posted by wildcrdj at 10:20 PM on September 13, 2010


That's an awesome story and makes me feel good about Canter's. That's just smart business right there.

Yeah, Canter's is a weird mix of awesome, tourist trap and slightly faded glory, but they have tender matzo balls the size of your head and they're actually open 24 hours. And unlike Pink's it doesn't usually take two hours to get something to eat.

They're an LA institution. I think I first ate there when I was about 14 or 15 after some all ages Ska show at The Whiskey.

I once startled a Canter's waitress so badly she dropped a whole tray of food, because she couldn't believe how much food I ate.

Which was two bowls of matzo ball soup, a couple of baskets of bagel chips, two heaping plates of pickles, an entire pastrami sandwich followed by the majority of my friend's corned beef and cabbage (which she saw me eating directly after the sandwich) and one of their monster waffle sundaes. She lost it and dropped her tray when she came back after a couple of minutes and saw that I was already cleaning up the remains of the sundae.
posted by loquacious at 10:34 PM on September 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I like the typeface, etc, and all that, but am I the only one a little put off by the multiple references to being "a professional designer", and the condescending attitude towards the guys who wrapped the truck?
posted by kingv at 10:44 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love the look of that deli and I think that designer did an amazing job translating the feel of it to the truck. I really like the retro feel, there is something reassuring in the clean lines but it still feels fun. Just like he said, so many of those wraps are more confusing and messy than anything. I hope more businesses follow this example.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:48 PM on September 13, 2010


As a vegetarian, well, I like the font. Canter's was always a bit of a drag for me when we went while I was working in Beverly Hills. They got an egg salad, but they make it under the theory that you shouldn't be ordering an egg salad there and if you do, they will disappoint you on purpose. Whereas Greenblatt's, they make a $12 egg salad that you feel kinda bad about paying $12 for until you're about three quarters of the way done, at which point you realize, yeah, that was an egg salad worth $12.
posted by klangklangston at 11:12 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


On my first visit to Canter's I ordered the 'Danny Kaye' sandwich. It was 2am and I was in the mood for some salami and I figured, hey, I'm not really that hungry but how many slices of thick salami could they put on this thing. Five or six, something like that?

There are 18 slices of salami in the Danny Kaye.

plus pickle.
posted by jettloe at 12:51 AM on September 14, 2010


Uh, guys, the point of Canter's isn't that it has great food. The point of Canter's is that it is open 24 hours.

For, like, when you've had too much to drink at a completely hypothetical meetup at Formosa Cafe? And don't want to drive yet? And don't want to sit around outside at midnight or whatever? What're you gonna do? That's right, Canter's!

Speaking completely hypothetically.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 AM on September 14, 2010


I like the typeface, etc, and all that, but am I the only one a little put off by the multiple references to being "a professional designer", and the condescending attitude towards the guys who wrapped the truck?

They probably mistook Doret's work for clip art so no love lost on either side.
posted by hal9k at 2:31 AM on September 14, 2010


I came here for the usual DMCA takedown letter and threat of lawsuit
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:04 AM on September 14, 2010


Lovely truck.

Speaking of trucnks, I have truck with the notion that this couldn't happen without the internet and search engines. It sometimes helps to remind people that there used to be this thing called "mail" that was used for "correspondence" and "communication" and while not as quick as the internet, was usually more directed and effective.
posted by plinth at 3:23 AM on September 14, 2010


"trucks" - serves me right for not wearing my reading glasses.
posted by plinth at 3:23 AM on September 14, 2010


That script makes me want a Ruben Sandwich right now!!!

And I adore Canter's. It was my waspy parents' idea of a big treat to take us there when we made the trip to downtown. True, the last time I went 2 years ago it was a bit disappointing, but Canter's is a state of mind and if I never go again, I will always remember it with great affection.

Damn Raleigh and its lack of a good Jewish Deli.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:08 AM on September 14, 2010


Yes, KingV, you were. The commercial signage business is run by untrained hacks (using Windows, no less). There really are such things as professional designers and hacks.
posted by joeclark at 6:19 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Canter's is a weird mix of awesome, tourist trap and slightly faded glory...

Yeah, I ate there a few times when I worked in the area, and that's a pretty apt description. Actually, you could use that to sum up most of the 1940's or 50's era eateries in Los Angeles.

From afar: "Wow! Look at that architecture, it's straight out of the Jetsons!"

A little closer: "Jeez, a cool place like that, you'd think they might paint it once in a while and fix the neon."

Inside: "Hmm, I'm all for retro charm, but I don't think they've reupholstered these cigarette burned, ripped up vinyl-upholstered booths since the place opened. Also, can I have a new coffee cup? There's lipstick on this one."

When the food arrives: "Aren't tuna melts supposed to be hot?"
posted by usonian at 6:38 AM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a great story of a designer creating opportunities and a client finding the right person to work with. I do wish there were more information about the original neon and its designer--and that the typeface captured more of that lettering's energy and lightness.

Look at the differences in how the letters connect, particularly in the "e." In the original, a smooth curve sweeps around and up to the next letter, while in Deliscript those strokes lie on the baseline until they get pulled up. Maybe there's yet another typeface to be made here.

Meanwhile, those capitals on the rest of the marquee and the other, more jaunty script on the building are pretty excellent too.
posted by notclosed at 7:34 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cool!

I like the typeface, etc, and all that, but am I the only one a little put off by the multiple references to being "a professional designer", and the condescending attitude towards the guys who wrapped the truck?

It's an AIGA piece; much love to AIGA, but AIGA is where designers get together to buff each other up, shore up their egos, and go "poo poo" on the non designers for not understanding how critical and vital their skillsets are. He was speaking to his audience, his fellow designers.

To his credit, I would have been having a small kitten once I saw the vinyl printer casually moving my file's objects around.
posted by cavalier at 7:44 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are 18 slices of salami in the Danny Kaye.

Apparently, Danny Kaye got a lot of salami in life.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:38 AM on September 14, 2010


This sketch is just terrible. It's like a visual demonstration of what the typeface would look like if everything good about it were taken away. Most of those things don't return in the final product (although they do on the side of the truck, oddly enough). It's a fine typeface, but it doesn't capture what's good about the original sign.
posted by rusty at 10:36 AM on September 14, 2010


(That was probably too negative. I like the type face. I really do. And it's a nice story.)
posted by rusty at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2010


Question: Are **FONTS** copyrighted?
posted by ~Sushma~ at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2010


Makes me miss the Kibitz Room.

I was just there on Sat. night. It still has that smell.
posted by Kloryne at 12:51 PM on September 14, 2010


Also Rodney Bingenheimer was there. Didn't try to smell him...
posted by Kloryne at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2010


Question: Are **FONTS** copyrighted?

Font data is. Font likenesses aren't (though sometimes the designs may be patented; I believe B&H's Lucida had design patents.) The shapes of characters on signs certainly aren't, and these look generic enough to not be subject to trademark law.
posted by acb at 3:11 AM on September 15, 2010


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