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Brown Derby Restaurant History And Photographs

    ** Click Here To View Photos **


One of Hollywood's finest and most popular restaurants, The Brown Derby, was opened on Valentines Day, l929, at 1628 North Vine Street in a building especially erected by Cecil B. Dellille. Founded by Herbert K. Somborn, he hired Robert H. Cobb as combination steward, buyer, cashier and occasional cook. After Somborn's death in 1934, Cobb was made president and general manager. Shortly thereafter, he became the owner. With a collection of caricatures of movie stars hanging on the walls, and excellent cuisine, the Derby became immensely popular with both the motion picture personalities and the general public. At lunchtime, stars in costume and make-up would rush in from the sets to entertain triends or be interviewed by writers. Young movie hopefuls would eat frugally on money scrimped for the occasion, hoping to catch the eye of a studio executive looking for 'just the type“. The Brown Derby can take credit, or the blame, for the introduction of telephones at  tables during meal times. A loudspeaker system for paging and phone lines to each table were installed so that busy executives would not have to interrupt a luncheon. The number of times an agent or ad man was paged came to indicate the degree of popularity and from time to time. these calla had been tabulated and theresults circulated as the 'Derby Derby'.

Aside from its luncheon and dining popularity, the Derby was a favorite 'after hours spot' with Hollywood’s entertainers. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were regular customers.  Countless other stars including, Ann Sheridan, Rita Hayworth, Randolph Scott, Lucille Ball, Tom Mix, Jack Oakie and Carole Landis ate at the famous restaurant. After an exciting evening of dining and dancing at the Coconut Grove, or attending the theater, Hollywood‘s socialitea would finish the evening's activities by stopping by the Brown Derby to have a cup of its famous onion soup. Robert Cobb continued to own and operate the Hollywood Brown Derby until his death in 1970, at which time the restaurant passed to his lovely wife, Sally. The world famous Hollywood Brown Derby and the Beverly Hills Brown Derby remained under her ownership and control until she sold them in 1975 to Walter P. Scharfe.  Scharfe continued to operate the both restaurants until 1982, when he sold the Beverly Hills eatery.  The Hollywood Brown Derby closed its doors in 1985, when he was unable to negotiate the renewal of his lease on the Vine St. restaurant.  For the next two years, the building had been vacant and the home of many vagrants.  In September, 1987 a fire broke out which completely destroyed the  once famous restaurant.  It was, later, determined that the fire had been intentionally set.  A few years later, the building was completely, torn down.  In 1987, Walter Scharfe opened a new Brown Derby Restaurant on the northwest corner of Hollywood Blvd. & Vine St.  Considerably smaller than its famous predecessor, the new eatery served many of the popular dishes that made the Brown Derby name so well known.  Unfortunately, the new restaurant only lasted a few years before it closed its doors.


The largest collection of photographs, on the subject of Hollywood, is  There are over 6000 Hollywood photographs on the web site and, also, scores of photos of all four Brown Derby restaurants.  All photographs, in the collection, are available for purchase.

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