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Vintage Hollywood Restaurants

Vintage Hollywood Restaurant Photo

Over the course of the past 75 years, Hollywood has had many fine and popular restaurants, some of whom are world renowned. Some of the early restaurants included the Armstrong-Carlton Café, Henry's delicatessen and the Hollywood Hotel. Shortly after the motion picture industry settled in Hollywood the population of the once sleepy community began to grow. It wasn't long before Hollywood Boulevard was transformed into a popular commercial Street with theaters, stores and restaurants.

Musso & Frank Grill

The boom in popular entertainment necessitated the opening of new and luxurious restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard. Musso and Frank Grill was an instant hit when it over at 6360 Hollywood Blvd. in 1919. Founded by John Musso and Frank Toulet, they operated the small restaurant for six years until they sold it to Joseph Carissimi and John Mosso, whose name was so similar to Musso. The restaurant was extremely popular and by 1936 the restaurant expanded to 6667 Hollywood Blvd., where it continued to increase in popularity due to its extensive menu, well-prepared food and fine service. Today it is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.


Earl Carroll Theater

One of New York's most popular shows was Earl Carroll's “vanities” review. The production, which ran from 1923 to 1936 was, in actuality, a refined burlesque show and was continuously raided by the police. After a while, Earl Carroll decided to move his show to Hollywood. After arriving in Hollywood 36 finding sufficient financial backing, he opened the Earl Carroll Theatre at Sunset Boulevard and Argyle Street on December 26, 1938.

Earl Carroll’s Also theater, which could accommodate over 1100 customers, was lit by 10,000 tubes which were suspended from a patent leather seating. With an elevated revolving stage, there was not a bad seat in the house. For $2.50, the customer received a fine dinner, danced, and witnessed one of the most spectacular and lavish reviews in show business history. Slightly less than a decade after it started, the production came to a tragic end when Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace were killed in an airplane accident in Pennsylvania in 1948.

Florentine Gardens

Among Hollywood's hotspots, one of the biggest and flashiest was the Florentine Gardens, located at 5955 Hollywood Blvd. Even in a community never noted for modest standards, it was colossal. Not highly popular with most movie celebrities who preferred the exclusive intimacy of such places as Ciro’s, the Trocadero and the Mocambo, the noisy barn like club went for quantity rather the quality. Manage 500 seats almost nightly. The inducement was a floor show that was a mixture of excitement, sex, and audience participation. Opened in 1938, the Florentine Gardens had a variety show which included various acts plus scantily clothed girls. After a little more than 10 years in business, the Florentine Gardens filed bankruptcy in 1948. However, under new management, it continued as a restaurant using the same name until it finally went out of business in 1954.


Clover Club

Located at 8477 Sunset Boulevard, the Clover club's four-year existence began in 1934. Many top entertainers went there to perform as the Sunset strip gradually became synonymous with grandeur. Among them was a young man named Maurice Rocco, who managed with considerable flamboyance, to play boogie-woogie on the piano, saying and dance. The small club had been raided numerous times for gambling and liquor violations, and this may have been one of the contributing factors for its closing only four years after it opened.

Don The Beachcomber Restaurant

Donn Beach had left home in 1928 and traveled around the world on his own, scouring many of the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific. A former bootlegger, he moved to Hollywood in the 1930s. He opened a bar called Don's beachcomber Café in 1933 at 1722 N. McCadden place, in Hollywood. In 1937, the restaurant moved across the street to 1727 N. McCadden Pl. and changed its name to don the beachcomber. He mixed rum cocktails in his tropically decorated bar. This was such an escape from everyday life, it quickly gained popularity, especially with Hollywood celebrities. At Don the Beachcomber, customers and that sees life wonderfully exotic, but, in actuality, were mostly standard Cantonese dishes served with flair. The Don The beachcombers restaurant enjoyed tremendous popularity during the 30s 40s 50s 60s and 70s. Other tiki type restaurants also came in to favor during the 50s and 60s, however none had the success of the beachcomber restaurants. However by the mid-1980s Polynesian restaurants fell out of favor and don the beachcomber restaurant went out of business.


Montmartre Cafe

In 1923 Eddie Brandstatter opened the Montmartre Café down the street from the Hollywood Hotel. It was in the building that C. E. Toberman had his real estate office. The restaurant was a movie colony favorite during its brief history, and fans lined the sidewalk and even the foyer to catch sight of the stars. By 1929, the mobs of spectators were so dense that patrons began to complain. Brandstatter cut a passageway into the adjoining building and opened the private and very exclusive Embassy Club. However, without the adoring fans to reflect the patrons’ egos, the stars quickly lost interest in both establishments

Brown Derby Restaurant

One of the finest and most popular restaurants, the Brown Derby, was opened on Valentine's Day, 1929, at 1628 North Vine St. in a building erected by Cecil B DeMille. Founded by Herbert K. Somborn, he hired Robert J Cobb as combination steward, buyer, cashier, and occasional cook. After Somsborn’s death in 1934, Cobb was made president and shortly thereafter became owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. As mentioned above, the restaurant was immensely popular, particularly with people in the entertainment business. It was not uncommon to go to the Brown Derby, for lunch or dinner, and see many of America's favorite actors and actresses. One day, Robert Cobb was in the kitchen preparing a salad – – the results being the famous Cobb salad that thousands of restaurants now have on their menus. During the 1940s and 50s two additional Brown Derby restaurants were established. One was in Beverly Hills and the other was in the Los Feliz area of Hollywood. By the 1980s, the Brown Derby fell out of favor and closed in 1981. The building on Vine Street became a haven for vagrants and the homeless, and in 1984 a fire completely destroyed the building.


Chasen’s Restaurant

Chasen's was a restaurant frequented by entertainers in West Hollywood, California located at 9039 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Hills, the first owners of businesses and 96 six and was I cite many years of the Academy Awards party. It was also famous for its chilly. In 1962, while filming in Rome, for example, Elizabeth Taylor had several orders of chases Chile flown to the set of Cleopatra.

Many of the restaurant’s regular customers had booths named in their honor. The Ronald Reagan booth, now displayed at the Ronald Reagan presidential Library was where Reagan proposed to Nancy Reagan. Other well-known entertainers with their own blues included Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart, and Groucho Marx. The early history of chastens is very interesting. David Chasen opened the restaurant in 1936 at the advice of his former director Frank Capra. It was nothing more than a shack, but quickly became well known for its chilly and other dishes. By the 1980s, a new generation took the reins of Hollywood, and trendier restaurants, like Spago, drew and stole some of Chasen's clientele. However, stations maintained a loyal and famous group of celebrities as clients. After suffering a steep decline in business over the course of several years, Chasen's closed permanently in 1995.


La Rue Restaurant

La Rue Restaurant, on Sunset Boulevard, was the latest project of Hollywood reporter’s Billy Wilkerson, following Ciro’s and L’Aiglon. It opened at 8361 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset strip in April 1944. An elegant restaurant which served fine French food, it was more of a gathering place at lunch time then a wild niterie loaded with action where stars sat in rich gold leather booths, as opposed to the more usual red ones. The dining room was dominated by two huge crystal chandeliers which were so elaborate that the proprietors had to regularly summon Crystal cleaning specialist from San Francisco. The famous restaurant continue to operate until sometime in the 1950s, but it is unclear as to the exact date.

Sunset Strip Restaurants

The Sunset strip is a portion of Sunset Boulevard that is in the County of Los Angeles. During the 1930s 40s and 50s, the Sunset strip boasted of having some of the most famous and glamorous restaurants in the state. Some of these restaurants included The Players, St. Donats, in a good time while that good and did you skate out more to the right more than any place else yeah good with her many people glad great Cyranos, The Marquis, Villa Nova, Scandia, Café Gala, The Little Gypsy and La Boheme.

Sunset Strip Nightclubs

The Sunset Strip also had though most lavish and popular nightclubs in the country. Billy Wilkerson, who owned the Hollywood reporter magazine, opened the Café Trocadero in the 1930s. After he sold it he opened Ciro’s nightclub, just down the street from the Trocadero. Ciro’s wise, unquestionably the most popular with the Hollywood community of entertainers. The third famous nightclub was Mocambo, which was just down the street from Ciro’s. Unfortunately, by the 1960s, all three nightclubs became a page in the history books.

The largest collection of Hollywood restaurants and nightclubs is on the website.  This popular website has hundreds of photos of all of the above mentioned restaurants and nightclubs. All photos, on the website, are available for purchase.

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