Category Archives: The Brown Derby

Cary Grant at the Hollywood Brown Derby

Cary Grant at the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant
Cary Grant at the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant

Cary Grant was one of a galaxy of movie stars that could be spotted dining at the legendary Hollywood Brown Derby restaurannt on Vine Street. Pictured above sometime during the golden era of Hollywood and the Studio system Cary is enjoying his food from one the willow pattern plates that reminded the diners of home. Cary is also examining the wooden cigarette box made in the shape of a derby hat that was placed on each dining table.

Wilshire Brown Derby Restaurant Coffee Shop

A 1954 Menu from the BROWN DERBY COFFEE SHOP in Los Angeles, now long closed, has turned up on eBay. For collectors and those interested in the bygone days when movie stars frequented the famous Brown Derby restaurants this is a gem. bdcoffee
bdcoffee2

bdcoffee1

See more scans of Brown Derby Menus from lapl.org:


Restaurant Cuisine City Menu Cover
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Los Angeles
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Hollywood
The Brown Derby American Los Angeles
The Brown Derby American Los Angeles
The Brown Derby American Los Angeles
The Brown Derby American Pasadena
The Brown Derby American Pasadena
The Brown Derby American Pasadena
The Brown Derby American Pasadena
The Brown Derby American Pasadena
The Brown Derby Car Cafe American Los Angeles
The Brown Derby Coffee Shop American Los Angeles
Brown Derby, The American Hollywood

 

1936 Headwaiter At The Brown Derby, Recalls His Experiences Serving The Stars

September 1936

Some Wait For Fame And some Wait On Tables

"Nick' Formerly Headwaiter At The Brown Derby, Recalls His Experiences Serving The Stars.

As told to Muriel Babcock

silverscreen-sept-1936

ALL head waiters have nervous indigestion—particularly those who work in Hollywood. But that's natural. By the time you take an order for a rare steak without any seasoning and a glass of grapefruit juice, for Suzie Blotz, one for raw vegetable salad with non-fattening mineral oil dressing forSadie Glutz, rush through a couple of lobsters for Gary Cooper, and get Papa and Mama Tourist satisfied with a 40-cent plate of scrambled eggs, you don't care much about eating. You have indigestion from trying to keep other people's digestions working well.

People are always asking me what movie stars like to eat. Why, I don't know. They are just like everybody else with their food preferences. Some like cold, some hot food. Jean Harlow likes sour cream and cottage cheese salads and always a glass of claret wine with a meal. James Cagney likes sea food salads, while Pat O'Brien enjoys stews and Irish bacon and eggs. Continue reading

The Brown Derby scene in George Cukor’s movie What Price Hollywood? 1932

Constance Bennett in a scene at the Wilshire Brown Derby in George Cukor's What Price Hollywood?


Constance Bennett plays a star-struck waitress in a scene at the original Wilshire Brown Derby restaurant in the 1932 movie What Price Hollywood? The story line is loosely based on the experiences of actress Colleen Moore and her husband, alcoholic producer John McCormick.

The above clip opens with a view of the exterior of the derby hat shaped restaurant.
The following clip takes place on a set based on the interior the very first Brown Derby building that soon had to move to another Wilshire location  to make way for construction of the women’s village for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games .

A photo of the interior of original brown Brown Derby for comparison above ( Thanks to the commenter below - Link to Source).

. The Brown Derby initiated the use of phones for guests at the restaurant tables as can be seen in the clip below.

What Price Hollywood1932
Constance Bennett wears the Brown Derby waitress uniform.

Constance Bennett is seen wearing a Brown Derby waitress uniform in the movie. This was the famous starched bell shaped short dress that showed off the waitresses legs.
Florence Knapp a former waitress at the Brown Derby recalled applying to an ad, “Waitress Wanted,” in the newspaper for the position at the Brown Derby in 1936. The manager selected 18 women out of 263 applicants for interviews, and she was one of them.

“The first thing we had to do was raise our skirts so he could see if we had shapely legs, as the uniform skirts barely came to our knees,” she said.
"It was hard work, 5-1/2 days a week. The uniforms had to be spotless, and waitresses could wear no jewelry. They had to be polite and do everything just right because of the shining stars frequenting this famous eatery."

Florence was paid $2 a day plus tips which could be as much as $12.50 a night, more than a week’s wages ( ref: http://www.reminisce.com/1930s/brown-derby-was-a-hot-spot-for-hollywoods-elite/)

The Original Brown Derby

The  Brown Derby restaurant seen on the movie was the very first one in the shape of a derby  located on Wilshire between Alexandria and Mariposa  It had to move when the land was requisitioned for the women’s village for the 1932 L.A. Olympic Games. So the  Brown Derby moved to a temporary location at 3927 Wilshire (photo: http://bit.ly/1thC7Fg) until a new hat shaped building was constructed at the famous location at Wilshire and Alexandria next to the Gaylord. The original site of the first Brown Derby was later used for the Chapman Hotel (http://www.martinturnbull.com/?p=4788)
Recommended Reading
Two good books to evoke the era - must have for anyone interested in the golden years of Hollywood: