Property Type: Commercial
Neighborhood: Garden City  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Googie
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The Tepanyaki Japanese Steakhouse was built in the 1960s. It is located on 2197 North Garden Street, and the building was originally a Sambo?s Restaurant. Sambo’s was an American restaurant chain that started in the late 50?s, and many of their buildings had Googie inspired architecture. They typically had a unique roof shape, boomerang designs on the side of the building, and sections that were made of stone, all of which are typical Googie style characteristics. However, in the late-1970s, there was a lot of controversy over the name of the chain, and many communities led protests and lawsuits because they believed that the term Sambo was a racial slur towards African Americans, and eventually nearly all of the Sambo’s restaurants closed.

After the Sambo’s in Boise closed, this building became a Tepanyaki Japanese Steak House in 1989, and there have been 2 different owners. This restaurant is very popular among the public and is known for their creative way of making your meal right in front of you. The building is measured at 4,120 square feet and is currently valued at about $422,500.

As mentioned before, the architectural style of this building is Googie. This architectural style came about in the post World War II era and was very popular throughout the 50s and 60s. Los Angeles and Orange County California were the birthplaces of Googie architecture and they both hold some of the best remnants of this style. The term Googie was originally coined by a man by the name of John Lautner in the year 1949, when he designed a coffee shop called Googie’s in Los Angeles.

The name Googie eventually came to signify the architectural style that this building possessed. Googie buildings were a kind of roadside attraction, and many restaurants, coffee houses, and bowling houses had this style of building. This architectural style was inspired by the Space Age and the Atomic Age, and many architects designed their Googie buildings to possess features similar to those of rocket ships. One of the best examples of this is the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. People were imagining what the future would be like, and the result was a very modern and unique design. One might describe these buildings to be Jetson-esque or futuristic because of their modern architecture and flashy designs. These buildings often have geometric or abstract shapes, zigzag roof lines, sloping upwards roofs, flying saucer or boomerang shapes, and sharp angles.

Many Googie buildings have some type of rock wall on the outside or indoor gardens that were meant to represent nature, and large windows were often included that were meant to break down barriers between the inside and the outside.

Googie architecture has also been called Populuxe, Doo-Wop, Coffee House Modern, Jet Age, Space Age and Chinese Modern. While many of these buildings have been torn down, several Googie buildings have been declared historic landmarks at the city, state and national level: McDonalds and Harvey?s Broiler in Downey, CA; Johnnies and Norm?s in Los Angeles; Bob?s Big Boy in Burbank.* Googie buildings are sometimes not taken seriously because of their bold designs, but they are an important part of midcentury American culture.

When Googie architecture was first started, it was all about the future, and now that more time has passed, Googie architecture has lost a lot of its popularity. They are often seen as too flashy or gaudy in our modern society, and many people don’t think they are worth preserving. Opponents may say that Googie style buildings are important parts of our history, and that they play a role in the growth of suburbia and the car culture. These buildings represent the ideas that were popular during the midcentury era. Tepanyaki Steakhouse is the last piece of Googie architecture left in Boise. We used to have a Moxie Java flying saucer building at Kootenai and Vista, but it was torn down, and if the Tepanyaki Japanese Steakhouse building gets torn down, we would lose 100% of Boise’s Googie architecture.

* amended by Googie expert and author of several books on the subject, Alan Hess.