The Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles 1952

Bygone Hollywood

Hollywood Tours of Ages Past

Hollywood tours include many decades-old landmarks like the Capitol Records Building or Jess Lasky‚Äôs Studio, but sadly there are some landmarks whose names live on in Hollywood history but they no longer exist. Such is the fate of the Brown Derby. The Brown Derby restaurant was an iconic Hollywood eatery that was established in 1926 by Robert H. Cobb, a renowned restaurateur. The restaurant was famous for its distinctive design and its association with the film industry, as it became a popular haunt for movie stars and celebrities during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Over the years, the Brown Derby became an institution in its own right, and its image was synonymous with glamour, sophistication, and fine dining.

The Brown Derby’s signature feature was its distinctive building, which was shaped like a man’s derby hat, hence the name “Brown Derby.” The building was originally designed by architect Herbert R. Brinkman and was built in a Spanish Mission style with stucco walls and a red-tiled roof. The interior of the restaurant was equally impressive, with its ornate furnishings, rich carpets, and elegant chandeliers.

The Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles 1952

The Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles 1952

From its early days, the Brown Derby was a favorite haunt for Hollywood’s elite. The restaurant was located in the heart of Hollywood, close to many movie studios, and its proximity to the industry made it an ideal place for movie stars, producers, and directors to meet and socialize. Many Hollywood legends were regular patrons at the Brown Derby, including Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and Charlie Chaplin. The restaurant was also a popular destination for out-of-town visitors who wanted to experience the glamour and excitement of Hollywood.

But it wasn’t just the atmosphere that made the Brown Derby a famous establishment. The restaurant’s menu was also renowned for its high-quality cuisine and innovative dishes. The menu was a mix of traditional American fare and international dishes, with a particular emphasis on seafood and steaks. One of the most famous dishes on the menu was the Cobb salad, which was created by the restaurant’s owner, Robert Cobb. The salad was a combination of lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, chicken, avocado, and Roquefort cheese, served with a special dressing that became a signature item of the Brown Derby.

In addition to its food and atmosphere, the Brown Derby was also famous for its role in Hollywood history. The restaurant was featured in many movies and television shows, and its image became a symbol of the glamour and glitz of Hollywood. Perhaps the most famous appearance of the Brown Derby in popular culture was in the movie “Sunset Boulevard,” where the restaurant was used as a location for several scenes. The film helped to cement the restaurant’s place in Hollywood history and added to its mystique and allure.

Over the years, the Brown Derby expanded to several locations throughout Los Angeles, including the Beverly Hills and Los Feliz neighborhoods. Each location had its unique style and atmosphere, but they all shared the same commitment to high-quality food and service. The restaurants continued to attract celebrities and movie stars, and the Brown Derby became an essential part of the Hollywood scene.

Unfortunately, the glory days of the Brown Derby were short-lived. With the advent of television in the 1950s and the decline of the studio system, Hollywood’s star system began to fade, and the restaurant’s popularity waned. By the 1960s, the Brown Derby had fallen on hard times, and the various locations began to close one by one. Today, only a few remnants of the Brown Derby remain, including the iconic hat-shaped building on Wilshire Boulevard, which now houses a Korean restaurant.
Despite its decline, the Brown Derby remains an essential part of Hollywood history and a symbol of the glamour and excitement of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The restaurant’s distinctive design, high-quality cuisine, and association with Hollywood legends have ensured its place in the annals of American popular culture. Even today, many people still associate the Brown Derby with the magic and allure of Hollywood’s past, and its legacy continues to inspire and captivate those who are drawn to that Golden Age of Glamor.


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