C.C. Brown’s

I’m always suspicious of restaurants that claim to have invented some item that you now find on menus everywhere. In Philadelphia, there are at least three places that will swear to you the Philly steak sandwich was first served on their premises, and there are two in L.A. alone (Phillipe’s and Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet) that insist they originated the French Dip.

Legend has it that the hot fudge sundae was the creation of one Clarence Clifton Brown, serving patrons a dish of ice cream with a little apply-it-yourself flask of molten chocolate. This supposedly occurred in his parlor in downtown L.A. in 1906. In 1929, his son Cliff moved the business to 7007 Hollywood Boulevard, just down the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. There it stood for decades, serving sundaes to celebrities and to tourists who came by to watch the celebrities eat sundaes. Its lush interior — mahogany booths with pink leather seats — was seen in several movies including Minnie and Moscowitz.

I went there the first time as a kid in the mid-sixties and the sundae was delicious but a bit of a disappointment. From all I’d heard about it in advance, I was expecting something that would put your basic Baskin-Robbins sundae to shame…and the one at C.C. Brown’s was only marginally better. Which is not to say it was anything but delicious. I just imagined the world’s greatest hot fudge sundae, as I’d long heard it was, would do something more than just taste good.

The establishment on Hollywood Boulevard finally closed in 1996, its final days marked by a stampede of patrons who acted like they might never taste a decent hot fudge sundae again. The company seems to still exist, franchising the name and selling fudge and yogurt and (I think) ice cream, as well. In many a restaurant, you can still find the assertion that they’re serving a C.C. Brown hot fudge sundae indistinguishable from the original…but I’ll bet most of those places microwave the fudge.

57 Responses to C.C. Brown’s

  • Marilyn says:

    My 91 year old mom was just talking about this and how yummy it was. I just read this to her and she said the reason it was so good was it was a treat. 31 flavors didn’t exist. Back then she says it was a chore to keep ice cream frozen.. so it was a special treat to go out and have one when she was a young girl with her dad.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Yo Elaine et al…Here’s an interesting, ‘Winter 2016’ article in Ala Cart(sic) published by Lawry’s Restaurant http://tinyurl.com/y9qlafjj about their gaining the “rights” to proudly preserve and serve the Hot Fudge Sauce and ice cream formerly of CC Brown’s, albeit not in those tall, dark booths. Ergo, off to your nearest Lawry’s!!! Whoa! Only Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas! 6 in/ around Japan.
    (My “first time” was ’61 after West Side Story at Grauman’s.)

  • Elaine Sekerman says:

    LOVED C.C. Brown’s back in the day. They had THE best hot fudge sundaes of any restsurant or ice cream parlor, bar none. I remember the server bringing the hot fudge in a little container on the side so you could pour it over the very high fat vanilla ice cream. And the roasted almonds were the best. The media made a big deal about it when they closed down in June of 1996, and on closing week people were jamming the joint. I went in with a couple of my friends the last day they were open. Had my picture taken under the sign out front and bought a souvenir license plate frame, which is still in my storage space, somewhere. The owners sold the rights to use their hot fudge at Lawry’s Prime Rib on La Cienega, and I remember having a sundae at Lawry’s with the C.C. Brown’s hot fudge a few times. Don’t know if they still do, but it’s worth going for.

  • John Engstrom says:

    Once upon a time (1978) I lived in Hollywood, and occasionally spent my Saturday evenings cooking dinner for myself, then go for a walk, people watching down Hollywood Blvd. (and there were some interesting people on Hollywood Blvd. on a Saturday night), have a sundae at C.C. Brown’s, then walk back to “Two Dollar Bills”, a restaurant/pub/jazz club located at the corner of Tamarind and Franklin for a carafe or bottle of red wine, before walking a block back to my apartment.

  • Joshua says:

    I’m pretty sure that Lawrey’s bought their recipe and name when they closed down. That’s why they sell the sundaes at Lawrey’s, Five Crowns, and the Tam O’shanter

  • Ted Sanchez says:

    I had the pleasure of delivering Ghiradelli chocolate there what a beautiful piece of Hollywood history!

  • Steve Perea says:

    I worked there in the 70s after high school as the manager/cook. I really loved making all the fresh food and fudge. I miss all the people I worked with there, I worked at the new store in the mall in Woodland Hills then transferred to Hollywood.
    I used to babysit for the Schumachers too and worked along side all the kids and their twin white Caddys.
    John was always great to me and always had lots of good stories, he was Pennsylvania Dutch so some take it as mean but he really wasn’t just hard nosed.

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