Sunday, August 20, 2006

A dose of Brown Derby History

It was great hearing everyone reminisce about the Brown Derby restaurants at yesterday's Southern California Restaurant Historical Society meeting. I have a special fondness for the Derbies, because as a child, I spent lots of time at the Beverly Hills Brown Derby, drinking Shirley Temples, which were also invented there, and enjoying the yummy pumpernickel toast and mini-hamburger plate (they didn't call them "sliders" back then!). There was a good turnout, including local luminaries Gary Owens, Art Fein, Billy Wilkerson Jr., L.A. Observed's Kevin Roderick, Franklin Ave.'s Mike Schneider and former Ambassador Hotel publicist Margaret Burke, left, in her dazzling sweatshirt which covers all the historic L.A. nightspots. Mark Willems, author of the book "The Brown Derby Restaurant," talked about his research with owner Bob Cobb's widow Sally Cobb. The Cobbs, of course, gave their name to the Cobb Salad. Rebecca Goodman from the Save the Derby coalition, showed historic photos and talked about coalition's successful effort to have the Los Feliz Derby declared a historical monument, so it won't become zillions of condos anytime soon. There was a fun film compiling lots of scenes from vintage films and cartoons filmed at the Derby, including the famous "I Love Lucy" episode. The real treat was longtime Derby caricaturist Jack Lane telling stories of the old days and bantering with Gary Owens. Lane made illustrated inscriptions in copies of his book on the Derby Wall of Fame for some attendees, and the meeting finished with a taste of the Derby's famous grapefruit cake. Thanks again to Chris Nichols and L.A. Time Machine's Jonathan Foerstel for a great event.

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