Wil Wright’s

wilwrights

Wil Wright’s was a chain of ice cream parlors that dotted the Southern California landscape up until the mid-seventies.  There was one in Beverly Hills at the corner of Beverly Drive and Charleville, and another in Westwood Village at the corner of Glendon and Lindbrook.  (There were others but those were two I frequented.)  They were the perfect place to take a date after the movie.  The delicate pink and red decor and little marble tables and wire-frame chairs made you feel like you were seated inside a Valentine’s Day card.

I believe there was one over on San Vicente in the Pacific Palisades area. I recall stopping in there one night after a movie with a date and the place was short-handed. There were about twelve tables and all the vacant ones still had the remnants of the previous diners…dirty dishes, slightly-filled glasses, etc. We sat at one for quite a while before a waitress came over to us…and when she did, she began scolding us for sitting at a non-clean table. As if lecturing the entire room, she began ranting about, “Why do people insist on sitting down at dirty tables before we have a chance to clear them?” Well, maybe because there was nowhere else to sit or stand and you were taking your own sweet time about cleaning the tables. I think we got up and went to find a Baskin-Robbins rather than to let that person wait on us.

But usually, a Wil Wright’s was a fun place to be. I seem to recall that my dates would always order the banana split while I wondered about the Freudian implications of their orders.  I would either have a milk shake or a dish of Wil Wright’s unique orange ice which resembled frozen orange juice more than any orange ice or sorbet I’ve ever had anywhere else.

It was excellent ice cream made (apparently) on what I’m told is the Haagen-Dazs principle of ice cream: Make the same ice cream as every0ne else but ratchet up the sugar and butterfat content.  The L.A. Times at one point did an article on local ice cream parlors and suggested that Wil Wright’s product had a notably higher calorie content than, say, the 10-cent cones at your neighborhood Thrifty Drug Store…also darned good places to eat ice cream if you just wanted a cone.  I wonder if that harmed sales at Wil Wright’s and perhaps contributed to the chain’s demise.  There is still a Wil Wright’s brand of ice cream sold in some stores — perhaps not the same recipe — but I think the parlors are all gone.

This is a scan from a menu I found on eBay.  I have no idea of the year.  There was also a faded insert page with ditto printing listing sandwiches for 35 cents each…

wilwrightsmenu01a

Click above to enlarge

149 Responses to Wil Wright’s

  • Mary Buzzetti Yahalom says:

    I loved Will Wright’s. I worked as a waitress in the Tarzana store (owned by Bob Goodman) for a while in the mid 60’s. It was a great place to work and their ice cream was phenomenal! This store served all kinds of food-sandwiches and hamburgers. I also worked at the Palm Springs store as a cook and behind the counter. This store was also owned by Bob Goodman. I have very fond memories of being a Wolf Wright’s employee. I loved the comment about the macaroons. Let me tell you stuffing those little glassine bags with a macaroon and folding and pinching the top was not a lot for of fun except eating them while doing the stuffing! I believe Wil Wright’s made some of thr best ice cream ever. In my book the only thing that comes close to the great flavors is Talenti Gelato. Their coconut and pistachio are to die for!

  • Jerry says:

    On a third date, back when girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and they didn’t have tattoos and piercings, I took my sweetie to the Beverly Drive Wil Wrights. She enjoyed the chocolate mint ice cream and the special macaroon. That was a fair while ago, 1954, I believe.

    We have been married for more than 60 years, and she still has that killer smile.

  • Mr Chin says:

    Hello David,
    My last weeks working at Wil Wrights’s I was never compensated for. I was laid off of work .The company never paid me afterwards, it was probably around $200 + owed to me . I am willing to sell the menu for $200 if your interested …
    I live in Santa Monica ,Ca

  • Danny Lee says:

    What happened to all the Wil Wrights Ice Cream Parlors ?
    Answer: It was sold to Arby’s in the 70’s

  • David says:

    Mr Chin; My name is David would love to have a copy of Wils (menu) I restore classic cars and I am in the process of building the Daisy Bell that was parked out front of his store. Have always wanted to tour the car shows and bring a part of his heritage back to life and also gives me an option to do what I love… travel and Old cars and trucks will be finishing my fully operational Parlor on wheels. His menu as a standard for our product would solidify that heritage all across the country.

  • Greg Evangelatos says:

    I went to UCLA from 1967 until 1971 when I graduated. My main job as a student was being a parking attendant at Kirkeby Center across the Wil Wright’s Ice Cream Parlor in Westwood. Next to it was the Movie Theatre and the Ratskeller. As a parking attendant I allowed some of the employees who were typically college students preferential parking spaces. And in exchange they sent or brought me ice cream or wonderful sandwiches from their establishments. What a wonderful time to be alive. The usual flow of film stars coming to see the premiers of their movies kept things interesting. Will Wrights Ice Cream stands out in my mind as a very special and high quality. As well as a mysterious beauty who worked in the place who drove a 62 Dodge.

  • Alan Hemenway says:

    The main location was at 8252 Santa Monica Blvd, corner of Harper, West Hollywood. This is where the plant was. We would go there after the concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, 1959 and after. In those days, a railroad track ran down the middle of Santa Monica Blvd. As we ate our ice cream, late at night, an engine would pull one box car down the street in order to maintain the right of way. I’m sorry I never tried the Nesselrode Bula. I always got a fancy coffee sundae. The consortium that bought Wil Wright’s commercialized it, ruining the ambiance. That’s what killed it. As of Feb. 2017 the building is for lease. If I was filthy rich I would acquire the property and revive a good thing.

  • Kc Ratner says:

    I also worked at Will Wright’s in 1966. Great job to meet girls from BH HS.

  • Rosella A Alm-Ahearn says:

    I was taken to Wil Wrights by a date in the early 60’s and just loved it. The ice cream was delicious and the place was so charming. I loved the European ices. We evidently didn’t get the wait staff mentioned in the previous comment.

  • Michele Tagger says:

    It definitely was Wil Wright’s…one L in Wil and the store on Sunset
    Blvd was very near Pupi’s Italian Bakery! They were magical in the late 50’early 60’s!!!

  • John Markell says:

    The wil wrights in Newport Beach was a regular hangout for me and my friends. We were afraid to ask for Nesselrode Bula until someone told us it had liquor in it so quite a thrill at 14. We used to go to the ones in Laguna and in Palm Springs too.

  • Jon Vannerson says:

    Wil Wright’s….a name from the past. Spent a lot of time at the Westwood location. Great shakes and the macaroons, the best.

  • John Eric Paschek says:

    Hello, My Grandmother, Gargie, and I often enjoyed delicious sundaes at Westwood Wil Wrights in the late ’60’s and early 70’s. Outstanding pineapple cocoanut ice cream! Loved those little macaroons wrapped in wax paper. The apothecaries!! All the candy. I remember the licorice strings and the candy necklaces. Sometimes a vanilla cone was just what I wanted. Those cute little chairs and beautiful marble tables were really cool!
    Anyway… If anyone remembers Westwood.. Wil wrights.. Ice cream and the past… Wil wrighs the place to be!

  • Terry says:

    Why DO people come into a restaurant and sit at a dirty table then assume no one’s doing their job. You were wise to leave, that waitress would have left surprises in your ice cream:)

  • Adrienne says:

    I fell in love at Will Wrights over grapes ices. I was 17. Sigh

  • Deanne Mencher says:

    I loved the Wil Wrights in Hollywood near Sunset and Vine.
    The stripes , were they not red and white and the dainty wire chairs..the small tables and the macaroons and divine ice cream.. it was a chic place to hang out.

  • Sidney says:

    If you ever wanted to see the composer Igor Stravinsky all you had to do was go to the Westwood store. He was an ice-cream freak.

    If you got the Nesselrode Bula from the bottom of the container you could get drunk on the liquor.

    The Hollywood store (Sunset and Vine) had black and white murals (photographs) of Paris which gave the place a tremendous atmosphere.

  • Kenneth Katz says:

    I under took to study all the ice cream places in greater Los Angeles in order to find the best company and the best ice cream. This was late 1962 .
    In conclusion it was Wil Wrights and the best of their ice cream , which they only produced seasonally was Pine Nut.

  • Monica says:

    Every now and then, I think about Wil Wright’s Ice Cream and the times our family stopped in Newport Beach for ice cream sundaes. I ordered the same thing every time, vanilla ice cream with butterscotch topping. I remember being awed by the specks of vanilla bean in the ice cream, which in my child’s mind made me think the ice cream tasted better because of it. And, the butterscotch topping made it all come together in such a memorable way. I also remember moving to Huntington Beach in 1966, and not long after a Wil Wright’s ice cream parlor was built at the corner of Edinger and Golden West. It did not last very long there, however.

  • Gary Smith says:

    My hi school friend worked at Wil Wrights in Tarzana on Ventura Blvd. in the early seventies. He made me a sundae and wore the red and white stripped shirt which was the uniform. We all lived in the San Fernando Valley. We had no idea how good those times were in hi school in So Cal… they are missed.

  • Blaise says:

    Hey Danny lee, I am pam’s brother. Did I know you? I knew a Bobby, I think. Give a call if you see this. 323-227-0600.

  • Mercy Baron says:

    I remember going to WW as a child. I think we went to the one mostly in Hollywood. But I will never forget the day we went into the one in Beverly Hills. I must have been maybe 7 yrs old. I looked up and standing right next to me was Liz Taylor and Richard Burton! I think I smiled and she smiled back at me. Really not an unusual occurrence if you grew up in Hollyweird!

  • Peter Schofield says:

    I had some company over earlier tonight and we started talking about jobs we had as kids. When I started talking about Wil Wright’s nobody knew anything about it. I’m glad I found this site. I worked at Wil Wright’s in Pasadena on Colorado Blvd., right next to the Pasadena Playhouse. We’d get the pre and post theater rush. A picky crowd but good experience.

  • Lawrence Hatch says:

    I remember the Will Wrights in the Pacific Palisades. It was on Sunset Blvd across from the (then) Hughes Market parking lot . It was the go-to place for parents to take their kids after a school band concert or maybe a visit to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Each dish or ice cream soda came with a glass of ice water, I seem to remember it was served in a paper cone held in a metal holder. Each offering also came with a small macaroon in a little wax paper packet. But the biggest treats were the large jars of “penny” candy that sat behind the counter. After your sundae, if your parents were feeling particularly indulgent, they might buy you a small paper bag of exotic offerings like rock candy. This was also another place you might see a famous face of the day.

  • Danny Lee says:

    I used to work at the Will Wrights 6th/ Berendo (1973-74) I drove by
    there the other day , sold my property mile away. It’s all changed
    That area had few drug/gang related shootings , but crime in Korean Town is a norm but is changing for the better .Recent rent in LA been on the increase , some good people are moving back in this area. I worked there seemed like yesterday, funny the MGR always wanted to fire me for making portions to large, customers never can finish my creations from the Burger plates to the
    Huge jumbo size banana splits enough for 3 , I enjoyed customers who got there money’s worth since back then Wil Wrights was pricey at that time period but they the best though. There was a pretty waitress named Pam I worked with there I found out she passed away 18 yrs ago aprox. , so young
    There were great memories working there at 16-17 yrs old , one place I do miss is this large casual restaurant cafeteria style on Vermont/8th called “Ontra”, like a Cliftons but better priced , loved the variety menu each day…. Oh well the good ole days …..

  • scott says:

    Use to visit the store at the corner of Dover and PCH in newport when I visited my grandparents, was also ways the best ice cream

  • DJL says:

    There was a Will Wrights in Tarzana on Ventura Blvd at the corner of Crebs. There was a Coast Federal Savings bank right next door.
    It was a great place to go. The valley was amazing in the 60s and 70s.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Dang it, Sue Schmier, I feel cheated. As I recall, a dozen years later, my reg fees were $86/semester. Talk about your inflation! Since all books that senior year were paperback, save one, my cost for them was well under $100. That lone outlier, The Dawn of Civilization, cost $25; I still have it on my coffee table. My year at Santa Monica City College (1959) was $10/semester for registration.

  • Sue Schmier says:

    I think we went more for the cookies than the ice cream!

  • Sue Schmier says:

    The very best Will Wrights was the one in Westwood, because it was our UCLA
    hangout in the 1950s. It was our date place! I won’t tell you how old I am, just that tuition in 1950 was $35 a semester….u do the math!

  • John O'Connor says:

    There used to be a Wil Wright’s at 6th and Berendo in L.A. back in the early ’70s. I used to work a paper corner across the street on Sundays in front of the Founder’s Church of Religious Science.

  • Lee Lefton says:

    Does anyone remember their wonderful little chewy almond macaroons? They came in the tiny wax paper bag with every cup of ice cream. I was in the Beverly Hills store one day when I ran into my 6th grade teacher who introduced me to her dear friend, Angela Lansbury.

  • Darryl Brandow says:

    Margaret, I knew John Penfield when I worked at the Ventura store. I remember we were horsing around one day and I chased him right through the glass door. No one was hurt. I have a couple of pictures of him in the store. Let me know if I can send them to you.

  • Darryl Brandow says:

    Danny, I have some pictures, let me know if you would like to see them.

  • Darryl Brandow says:

    I worked at the store on Ventura Blvd for 4 years while attending college in the 1960s. I not only loved the product, but also loved the hectic pace on the weekends. But most of all after reflecting over my 55 years of work experience Wil Wrights and the people who worked there were great fun. Seeing the old menue brought back wonderful memories.

    Claim

  • Marilynne Marcos Jawitz says:

    When I moved to CA (w hollywood) we went to the one on Santa Monica Blvd and I think(?) there was one on Sunset? everything was wonderful! I moved to s florida in 1970 – met my husband and he told me his cousin had a franchise in Palm Springs! His name was Bobby Goodman!

  • danny says:

    Hi guys, I just rented a store in west hollywood. 8250 Santa Monica Boulevard and it used to be a wil wright parlour. we are a tour company. bikeshikes.com and I am looking to pay tribute to wil wright here in our store. any photos or information that you think would be useful would be most greatly appreciated.
    thank you

  • Robert Roemer says:

    Does anyone know if there is any wil wright parlors? Does anyone know if the stock certificates are any good, other than a collector? Any information regarding Wil Wight Ice Cream Company would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely, Robert Roemer

  • Dona says:

    There was one on PCH in Newport Beach or Balboa….and there was one in Palm Springs…..the cream would stick to the roof of your mouth….It was the best!! Those were the good old days…

  • Mr Chin says:

    I worked at the Wil Wrights Ice Cream Parlor in Beverly Hills 1972-73
    I remember working very hard there especially during Summer , i remember
    making Banana Splts for Lucile Ball ocasionally mod morning ,, always gave her 5 cherries on top she liked Hot Fudge from our machine drizzled , always
    put extra almonds on top of the fresh made whipp cream. Every thing was made from scratch back then we dnt measure anything , we piled it High ! No one finishes most of my Creations. I found the IceCream parlor wild place to work , well atleast i did , most played football outside or goofed off , mainly the guys , and management was poor and dishonest i felt is why the company failed
    Eventually. Fond memories of my first job though, i wish i memorized the formulas in making this great icecream , it was the bomb ! None better ! No cutting corners, clean and rich all fruits n nuts used were whole , not pieces , classy ,, i really miss Wil Wrights , i wish i could bring it back , Arby’s bought them out eventually ruined it ! I still have the original Menu … Hmmmm

  • Bill says:

    Oh we used to love the ice cream.It was so rich that the butter coated the inside of your mouth.I loved the good old vanilla.

  • Harriet Sartinsky says:

    I lived near the one on Ventura Boulevard, probably in Sherman Oaks. The butterscotch sundae with vanilla bean ice cream was THE BEST. Served in the
    really cold silver sundae dish. Yum. Does anyone have the recipe for that butterscotch sauce? It was a little grainy and that’s what I loved.

  • Harriet Sartinsky says:

    My husband and I frequented the parlor on Ventura Boulevard in Southern California. I loved the butterscotch sundae with vanilla bean ice cream served
    in the nearly frozen silver sundae dish. What a treat! I would love to find the recipe for that sundae sauce.

  • Aaron says:

    Re: sitting at dirty tables-it obviously doesn’t matter if you’re in a fast-food joint. But please never, ever do this in a full service restaurant. From the server’s perspective, that’s #2 on the list of “rudest things a customer can do”.

  • Bob Marlowe says:

    And let’s remember Mr. Eversole, who built it – http://articles.latimes.com/1991-10-16/news/mn-474_1_los-angeles-mission

  • Melinda says:

    I remember stopping at the one in Westwood, back in the 70’s, for an ice cream cone after spending the day at Santa Monica beach. My friend and I (both us about 16 at the time) were the only customers in the store, so we started flirting with the guy scooping our cones. But when I looked into the wall mirror, that was behind the counter, I couldn’t believe who I thought was standing next to me. I turned slowly to see if it was who I thought it was and sure enough, Robert Wagner was standing 6 inches away from me browsing at the ice cream menu. Needless to say I was thrilled. I tried to not be too obvious, which was more obvious, and he just smiled, winked, and placed his order. My friend and I giggled the whole way home. Oh and they had the best Peach Ice Cream ever.

  • Eric Jessen says:

    February 22, 2016
    For us kids who grew up in El Segundo, our favorite Wil Wright’s was located at Sunset Blvd. & King’s Road where my grandmother, who lived in nearby Hancock Park, used to take me as a child. In 1962 I had my California driver’s permit and I’d cruise my high school chums around in the Hollywood Hills on Friday and Saturday nights hoping to spot Igor Stravinsky and his wife Vera I (we were musicians and adored his modern classical compositions). Instead of Igor, one night we encountered Bette Davis there. Seated at the table next to us, Bette was taken aback when she heard me order coffee ice cream and a cup of fresh coffee grounds to sprinkle atop it. My recollection is that William Wilder and another movie mogul were seated with her. The place had tiny 20″ diameter white marble-topped tables, petit gold-leaf metal chairs with dark green cushions. Bette was gracious in conversing with us 10th graders from El Segundo High School. We went there dozens of times, where my buddy, Gabe, usually ordered Nesselrode Bula. I always stuck to coffee ice cream with fresh coffee grounds sprinkled atop. When I moved to Laguna Beach in 1966, we were delighted to have the Wil Wrights in Newport Beach located at the intersection of Coast Highway and Dover Drive. I vaguely think there was also one on Hwy. 111 in Palm Springs. Eric Jessen, Laguna Beach, CA.

  • Dan says:

    For Wil Wright’s Nesselrode Bula aficionados, here is probably the best recreation of the original recipe :

    http://gourmetcentric.com/2011/08/re-creating-nesselrode-bula-ice-cream/

  • Dan says:

    We would go to the beautiful modern Baldwin Hills Theater for a movie and stop at the Will Wrights afterwards. Nesselrode Bula was our favorite with nuts, fruit and a hint of rum. All gone now sadly.

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