Friday, April 10, 2009

Hollywood Brown Derby

1628 North Vine Street, Hollywood Brown Derby

Probably the most famous Hollywood restaurant, past or present, would have to be the Brown Derby. There were a chain of Brown Derby restaurants, the first and most iconic being the restaurant that opened on Wilshire Blvd in 1926 in the shape of a brown derby hat; but it was the Vine Street Brown Derby that would become the most famous.

Do to its proximity to the movie and radio studios nearby the Vine street Brown Derby became a place to see and be seen. Humphrey Bogart, Groucho Marx, Cecille B. Demille and other Hollywood legends could be seen eating here. Gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper would frequently conduct interviews in the restaurant. Leading man Clark Gable even proposed to actress Carole Lombard in booth 54. In the 1950s the Brown Derby on Vine was even featured in an episode of I Love Lucy. It was here that Lucy Ricardo accidentally covers William Holden in food after gawking at the actor from an adjacent booth.

Lucy Ricardo & William Holden @ Brown Derby from I Love Lucy

Unfortunately, all that remains of the Hollywood Brown Derby building can be seen in the photos above and below. Hollywood has seen many new businesses moving in and transforming the community. One of these new businesses is a W hotel which is currently under construction in that area just behind the last remnant of the Brown Derby building.

Last remnant of the Hollywood Brown Derby building.

Looking North on Vine Street Hollywood 1950s

Looking North on Vine Street, Hollywood 2009
Above is a picture looking north on Vine Street in Hollywood during the 1950s. On the right you can see the Brown Derby restaurant. Just below that is a picture I took recently looking north on Vine Street showing the same location as it appears today. You can see the large W hotel complex going up where the Brown Derby used to be. Right across the street from the Brown Derby restaurant was the Plaza Hotel/It Cafe site. Read more about that historic location in one of my earlier posts here.

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