Neon Gem: Brown Derby Sign Restored

The Museum of Neon Art is ready to unveil one of SoCal's most legendary signs.

If you were taking a Sunday drive down Hollywood Boulevard several decades back, and you drew near to the legendary intersection of Hollywood & Vine, you likely saw a few signs out your window.

The Ham & Egger, for one. The Broadway, too. You might have spied a billboard for Canadian Club Whiskey, or Western Air Lines, and you definitely, 100 percent could not miss the rooftop sign bearing the bowler-style hat.

It was the Brown Derby, which long ago held Cobb-Salad-y court at 1628 Vine St. There were other outposts of the famous chain, of course, but none sat as close to a corner that was synonymous with Tinseltown. Call the location a feather in the Brown Derby's iconic hat, as stars regularly flocked to it for its chops, its see-and-be-seen-ness, and, yes, the Cobb Salad, which was invented by founder Bob Cobb.

Now the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale is paying tribute to the neon sign from that very location, a sign that dates back to 1930. The hat, which encloses the words "The Brown Derby," has been restored and awaits its debut at the recently relocated museum.

Join the "Hats Off to Hollywood!" fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 13, one that includes a lighting ceremony of the sign. Money raised during the night will help the restoration of a Zinke's shoe repair sign, another night-twinkly slice of the past.

The Art Deco Society of LA is partnering with the museum on the fundraiser.

A ticket? It's forty bucks for non-members, and "light refreshments and beverages" are part of the swell scene.

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You may, of course, want to seek out a Cobb Salad after the sign has been lit. They're not too hard to find these days, but all can trace their bacon-licious, cheesy yum back to the Brown Derby, a chain that truly made a starry, supper-famous stand in a competitive city and time.

That a neon sign remains, one that has regained its early glory, is like a peek back at that early era, when the swells cocktail'd-it-up beneath the glowing bowler hat near Hollywood & Vine.

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