Brown Derby Restaurant



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 Boulevard in 1926 and remained the most distinctive due to its 'derby hat' shape. Whimsical architecture was popular at the time, and the restaurant was designed to catch the eye of passing motorists. HOLLYWOOD BROWN DERBY The second Brown Derby was opened on Valentines Day, 1929, at 1628 N. Vine Street, in Hollywood. Despite its less distinctive Spanish Mission style facade, this Brown Derby, was the restaurant that played the greater part in Hollywood history. On account of its proximity to nearby movie studios, it became the place to do deals and be seen. Clark Gable is said to have proposed to Carole Lombard there. Rival gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper are said to have been regular patrons. It was certainly the most popular restaurant in Hollywood. Celebrities such as Ronald Reagan, Cesear Romero, Dorothy Lamour, Betty Grable, George and Gracie Allen, Shirley Temple, Glenn Ford and many more eat there. It truly was the place to be seen - if you wanted to be seen. Somborn hired Robert H. Cobb as combination Steward, buyer, cashier and occasional cook. After Somborn's death, in 1934, he became the owner of the two Brown Derby restaurants In 'L. A. at Last,' the first of the Hollywood episodes of I Love Lucy, Lucy (Lucille Ball), Ethel (Vivian Vance), and Fred (William Frawley) have lunch at the Brown Derby. During the misadventure, the trio dines in a booth with Eve Arden on one side and William Holden on the other. This leads to the famous disaster scene in which Lucy inadvertently causes a waiter to dump a plate of food on Holden. In addition to the scores of celebrities, many civic leaders, such as Charles Toberman and his wife, Josephine, and businessmen had lunch or dinner on a regular basis. Like its Wilshire Blvd. counterpart, it was the home of hundreds of caricatures of celebrities. Many of these caricatures were drawn by Jack Lane between 1947 and 1985. BIRTH OF THE COBB SALAD The Hollywood Brown Derby was the birthplace of the Cobb Salad, which was said to have been hastily arranged from leftovers by owner Bob Cobb. Another signature dish served at the Brown Derby Restaurants was Turkey Derby and their Pumpernickel bread was "to die for". Many restaurants, across America, have the Cobb Salad on their menus. However, they are not the same as the one served at the Brown Derby restaurants. TELEPHONES FOR THE STARS One of the unique features at the Hollywood Brown Derby was that most of the booths had telephones. Mr. Cobb had phones installed at the many tables so busy utives could take and receive calls while eating out. This was a successful ploy that brought a lot of business to the restaurant. OTHER BROWN DERBY RESTAURANTS In 1931, a third Brown Derby restaurant was built at 1937 Wilshire Blvd, in Beverly Hills. Nine years later, a fourth Brown Derby was opened at 4500 Los Feliz Ave. It was the only one of the four to have a fine dining restaurant and 'drive in' car cafe all in the same location. By 1975, the first Brown Derby (at 3427 Wilshire Blvd.) had lost is popularity and closed. The building was demolished, except for a portion of the original 'derby hat'. The Hollywood Brown Derby closed in 1985, was destroyed by fire in 1987, and demolished in 1994. The Beverly Hill's location closed in 1982 and was demolished the following year. The Los Feliz Brown Derby closed as a restaurant in the early 1990s and reopened at a nightclub called The Derby. Today it is the home of The Derby nightclub and Louise's Trattoria. BROWN DERBY PHOTOGRAPHS Some professional photographers were allowed into the Hollywood Brown Derby to take photographs of the visiting celebrities. The largest collection of Brown Derby photographs and images can be seen on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site. All the photographs are available for purchase. Other restaurant photos can be found on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site. Ciro's nightclub was one of the Brown Derby's competitors.

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Arbat Restaurant on Vine St. Former Brown Derby restaurant site.
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Brown Derby on Vine St.
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Mr. & Mrs. Walter Huston at the Brown Derby Restaurant on Vine St.
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Brown Derby Restaurant on Vine Street.
Brown Derby RestaurantArbat Restaurant on Vine St. Former Brown Derby restaurant site.
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1987
Brown Derby RestaurantBrown Derby on Vine St.
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1938
Brown Derby RestaurantMr. & Mrs. Walter Huston at the Brown Derby Restaurant on Vine St.
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1942
Brown Derby RestaurantBrown Derby Restaurant on Vine Street.
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1942
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BROWN DERBY IN HOLLYWOOD
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FANS IN FRONT OF THE BROWN DERBY
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Douglas Fairbanks at the Brown Derby in Hollywood
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Brown Derby On Vine St.
Brown Derby RestaurantBROWN DERBY IN HOLLYWOOD
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1931
Brown Derby RestaurantFANS IN FRONT OF THE BROWN DERBY
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1933
Brown Derby RestaurantDouglas Fairbanks at the Brown Derby in Hollywood
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1933
Brown Derby RestaurantBrown Derby On Vine St.
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1936
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Robert Cummings & Marsha Hune At 
The Brown Derby
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Robert Cummings & Marsha Hunt signing autographs at the Brown Derby on Vine St.
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Brown Derby On Vine St.
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Brown Derby On Vine St.
Brown Derby RestaurantRobert Cummings & Marsha Hune At The Brown Derby
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1936
Brown Derby RestaurantRobert Cummings & Marsha Hunt signing autographs at the Brown Derby on Vine St.
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1936
Brown Derby RestaurantBrown Derby On Vine St.
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1938
Brown Derby RestaurantBrown Derby On Vine St.
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1940