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Brown Derby Restaurants Photos

Brown Derby Restaurants Photos

The Brown Derby was the name given to a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles. Founded by Herbert K. Somborn, he opened the original restaurant at 3427 Wilshire Blvd. in 1926 and remained the most distinctive due to its derby hat shape. With two years of success under his belt he decided to open a second Brown Derby restaurant, this time in Hollywood.  Many historic photos of the Brown Derby restaurants  and other Hollywood photos can be found on the website.


The Hollywood Brown Derby, was opened on Valentines Day, 1929, at 1628 North Vine St. in a building is specially erected by Cecil B DeMille. Somborn hired Robert H Cobb as combinations to her, buyer, cashier and occasional cook. After some boards 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 makeup would rush from the sets to entertain friends or be entertained 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 blame, for the introduction of telephones at tables during mealtime. A loudspeaker system for paging and phone lines to each table were installed so that busy executives would not have to interrupt a luncheon. A number of times an agent or ad man was paged came to indicate the degree of popularity, and from time to time, these calls had been tabulated and the results circulated as the" Derby Derby".

Aside from its luncheon and dining popularity, the Derby was a favorite “after-hours spot” with Hollywood's social class. After an exciting evening of dining and dancing at the Cocoanut Grove, or attending the theater, Hollywood socialites would finish the evening's activities by stopping by the Brown Derby to have a cup of its famous onion soup or popular Cobb salad.


In 1931, a third Brown Derby restaurant was built at 1937 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Nine years later, a fourth Brown Derby was opened at 4500 Los Feliz Ave. It was the only one of the four restaurants to have a fine dining restaurant and drive-in car Café all in the same location. By 1975, the first Brown Derby had lost his popularity and closed. The building was demolished, except for a portion of the original derby hat.

tuThe Hollywood Brown Derby closed in 1985, was destroyed by a fire in 1987, and demolished in 1994. The Beverly Hills location closed in 1982 and was demolished the following year. The Los Feliz Brown Derby closed as a restaurant in the early 1990s and was reopened as a nightclub called the Derby.

The largest collection of Brown Derby photos is on the website. All images are available for purchase.

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