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The Hollywood Brown Derby History And Its Famous Dish

The Hollywood Brown Derby History And Its Famous Dish

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I have to admit that I love dining in this restaurant for one specific dish that I always order! Can you guess what it is? I provide the recipe for it! Find out which dish I’m referring to as I take you through the history behind this Hollywood glam restaurant.

The Hollywood Brown Derby

Walking up to The Hollywood Brown Derby, guests are immediately transported to the Golden Age glamour of the Hollywood Hills of the 1920’s.

I always think to myself how fun it would be to show up to a reservation at this restaurant in my 1920’s flapper outfit! This era had so much Hollywood glitz and glamour to offer.

The Hollywood Brown Derby, which is located inside Hollywood Studios, first opened in 1989 when the park was called MGM Studios.

Fun fact: Disney originally planned to open a Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.

However, none of the last three came to fruition!

Credit: Disney

How perfect would this restaurant fit within the streets of Buena Vista at California Adventure? It ties in perfectly with the current theming of Hollywood in the 1920’s!

One can only hope that maybe one day it could occur, and I would be extremely happy!

Even the bathrooms tie in nicely with the theming of the restaurant!

The Original Brown Derby

Courtesy of

There is often confusion about the original The Brown Derby restaurant which opened on Wilshire Boulevard in 1926. Many people believe that this was the only location of the restaurant. However, there were five other restaurants around Los Angeles.

The two popular locations were located on Wilshire Boulevard and the other in Hollywood.

Courtesy of

Wilson Mizner, Herbert Somborn and Robert Cobb opened the first The Brown Derby restaurant. It was originally a small café located directly across the street from the famous Ambassador Hotel.

The owners introduced its iconic “Derby Hat” design which followed the whimsical architectural style in vogue at the time to capture the attention of passing motorists.

In the late 1930’s, the restaurant was moved a block east to the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue. This newer location closed its doors in 1980.

The Second Location

Courtesy of

The second location on North Vine Street (just south of the famous Hollywood and Vine intersection) opened in 1929. However, this restaurant did not feature the “Derby Hat” design. Rather, it had a Spanish Mission architectural style.

The inside of the restaurant features walls lined with drawings and caricatures of celebrities seen in the same way as the restaurant in Hollywood Studios! You can see them in the photo below.

Being that Hollywood is where movies are made, the restaurant became even more famous as fans began to mail Hollywood stars fan mail! Mail to the stars were simply addressed to “The Brown Derby, Hollywood and Vine.” It was “semi-official” headquarters for Hollywood columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.

This is the location where Clark Gable is said to have proposed to Carole Lombard in the infamous booth #5.

Even the show “I Love Lucy” filmed a show where Lucy, Ethel and Fred enjoyed lunch at the restaurant seeking movie-stars! ‘A la Lucy style, she finds herself “accidentally” causing a server to pie face actor William Holden.

The Hollywood Brown Derby closed its doors in 1985 to meet earthquake safety requirements. However, due to a fire in 1987, the restaurant never reopened again.

The Cobb Salad

So where did the the Cobb Salad originate from? The famous baseball player, Ty Cobb?

No, that would be incorrect. The Hollywood Brown Derby is, in fact, the birthplace of the “Cobb Salad” from Robert Cobb the owner!

The story goes that the creation of this delicious salad happened on a very early morning in 1937 at the restaurant in Hollywood.

The owner, Bob Cobb, was ruffling through the kitchen’s refrigerator, pulling out various remnants including lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, chives and avocado. Smelling bacon being cooked nearby, he grabbed a few slices to add to his dish. Bob tossed the ingredients together.

And who did Cobb have the pleasure of sharing his delicious new culinary invention with? None other than his friend Sid Grauman.

Brand New Menu Debuts at a Hollywood Studios Dining Location!
Credit: Disney

Ever heard of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre? You know… the replica that can also be found in Hollywood Studios! It truly is a small world after all, isn’t it?

As for this creative culinary ingenuity, I am eternally grateful as this is the only dish that I consistently order when I visit The Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios!

Making The Cobb Salad At Home

Curious as to how you are able to recreate this recipe at home? Well, lucky for you the recipe can be found within the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs. It can be found on Amazon!

Or… you could use the recipe that I’m sharing with you today!

  • Salad Ingredients Yields 4-6 servings:
  • 1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry 
  • 1 cup chopped chicory leaves, washed and spun dry 
  • 1 cup tender sprigs of watercress, washed and spun dry 
  • 1 pound poached turkey breast, finely chopped 
  • 2 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives 
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled 
  • Finally chop the iceberg lettuce, chicory leaves and the watercress. Finally chop them again… and then again… and then one more time for good measure!
  • Toss them together and place in a salad bowl.
  • Next, chop up the turkey, avocado, tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon and eggs.
  • Arrange all the ingredients that you just chopped in straight and separate lines across the top of the greens.
  • Sprinkle the snipped chives across the top of the salad.
  • When ready to serve, pour in all of the dressing (recipe down below) and toss the entire salad.
  • And voila! You have recreated the famous Cobb Salad!
  • Old Fashioned French Dressing Ingredients Yields 1/2 cup serving:
  • 2 tablespoons of water 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste 
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic (one clove) 
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar 
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste 
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry English mustard 
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 tablespoons olive
  • In a small bowl, combine water, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, sugar, pepper, and dry mustard. Add all of the dressing ingredients except vegetable oil and olive oil. Whisk together until well blended.
  • Whisking constantly, add the vegetable oil and olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is emulsified. (a mixture of two liquids that don’t fully combine) Store covered and chilled until ready to serve. Whisk the dressing to blend just before serving.

I don’t know about you but all this talk about making my own Cobb salad has made me extremely hungry!

Other Dishes At The Brown Derby

Of course, the restaurant has an array of different dishes to select from such as the Faroe Island salmon and char-grilled filet of beef

The lobster bisque and sea scallops are one of many appetizers!

For dessert you can enjoy the decadent flourless chocolate mocha cake, the
Crème Brûlée or the grapefruit cake.

For those over the age of 21+ I would highly recommend the Margarita flight which includes the classic margarita, the blood orange margarita and the pomegranate margarita.

The ambience of this restaurant is sufficient for one to go inside to enjoy. You truly do feel like a Hollywood star while sitting at The Hollywood Brown Derby.

To view the full menu and hours of service, visit Character Locator for more information.

This is a restaurant that you will not want to miss on your next visit to Hollywood Studios!

Have you visited The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant? What is your favorite dish to order? More importantly, will you be recreating the Cobb Salad at home? Inquiring minds want to know! Let us know in the comments on Facebook and in our Facebook group.

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