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

165 Responses to Wil Wright’s

  • Michael Luzzi says:

    There was a Wil Wright’s in Leimert Park in Marlton Square. When I was growing up, my mother and I rode our bikes there on weekends during the summer. Our favorite flavor was pistachio.

  • Norman Plunkett says:

    Wonderful article and response testimonies, Mark! Glad I researched and found you.

    My father lived in LA from 1906-1914. and his family represented Yuban coffee up and down the West Coast. In 1927 he returned to open a branch for the family’s Advertising Dinners Company in Chicago – Catering large groups but representing National Food Companies. Remarkable idea in early radio and zero television days. The kitchen and office were on Hyperion, near Glendale, across the street from Walt Disney Studios before they moved to Burbank.

    At that time the North Ridge of Silver Lake started being developed – it was the old Mario Family Ranch and the Disney family had already built on the top near Griffith Park overlooking Hollywood, Beverly Hills and almost the ocean on a clear day. Dad bought three lots West of the Disney Estate on Redcliffe Street and built a beautiful Spanish/Moorish home. All this to explain how I have a pre-1947 souvenir menu of Will Wright’s Ice Cream Parlor – the same
    as you have posted in your blog but much older as it has OPA information.

    In the early 1940’s we were back in the Midwest and traveled back to LA to
    bury great and regular grandparents at Forest Lawn in Glendale. That ‘s where I received and kept my souvenir Wil Wright menu from pre 1947 as there is a reference to the OPA a war organization that ceased existing in May 1947. It’s probably 1940 or 1942. I’m selling this “Near Mint” historical piece
    next week on Ebay with a opening bid of $20.00. I didn’t know if you wanted to let your blog responders know of the sale or you might be interested. Norman Plunkett

  • Becky says:

    Have to agree, was the best ice cream I & my sisters ever tasted. It tasted sooo smooth & creamy. Is there anyone who knows where I may purchase this Will Wright’s ice cream or something similar?

  • RSchindler says:

    The location of the Wil Wright’s in the movie was on Sunset and Carey in Pacific Palisades. The clue is at the beginning of the Youtube movie clip with the name of the building next door, “Lelah T. Pierson Real Estate”. She was a well-known ’boutique’ real estate broker at the time and her small building was an interesting Mid-Century Modern located on the corner. (https://dp.la/item/3162d9c86316394de7607646b1b6ee0c). Both buildings are gone now, replaced by an anonymous 2-story occupied by Coldwell Banker.

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

    Yo John! while trying to maintain my bias and keeping this great Blog apolitical, one can’t help but to say that with your gumshoe like detective work, finding this Wil’s might just come about because it takes a village of people http://tinyurl.com/ydhpjec3 herin!!!

  • John Engstrom says:

    Jack Rohde – after watching the clip posted by Bob of the Village, I would guess west side of town on Wilshire or Santa Monica or Olympic. Clue is the Bus Stop sign just outside (visible at the end of clip) is split yellow & blue, indicating that it is serviced by both RTD and Santa Monica bus lines.

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

    Yo Jack Rohde….apparently the location bugged at least one other person too: http://tinyurl.com/ybtobkpb

  • Joann McNish says:

    I was wondering if anybody would remember the one in the Santa Barbara mall that was in the Marlton Plaza and yes the macaroons were great.

  • Jack Rohde says:

    Hi everyone I was born in 1960 so I never got to enjoy those years as a teen, I’m a nostalgia nut for those beach movies, does anyone know where the Wil Wrights ice cream scene from ” its a bikini world” was filmed? with Tommy Kirk and Deborah Wally? thanks, I read that Roger Corman partly financed the film, I think he was connected to the church of satan and Charles manson, theres some creepy connections around hollyweird, a lot of Sabbatean Frankists control the town.

  • Alex Trachtenberg0 says:

    I remember the one in Crenshaw at Santa Barbara Plaza before Dr.King was killed about 1964. The macaroons were great and so was everything else especially those tables.

  • Jim Havelin says:

    As a 17 year old kid, I worked in the store in Pasadena, California, in 1967. I especially remember when the plays at the Pasadena Playhouse would let out, many of the actors from the show would stop by each evening and “play practice” their parts both in the shop and along the brick lined walkway outside. Great memories, as I’m 67 years old now

  • Alexandria Byrne says:

    Marilynne – Oh my goodness, was just trying to find more info about the Palm Springs Wil wrights – was just thinking about it just recently. My amazing Grandmother lived in PS… she used to take me there every time we visited… I was so young , but I rememeber it so vividly and all the colors so vibrant loved it for so many sentimental reasons – AND just recently found an old Matchbook she had in our memory box after she passed away – so weird i found your post,,, your family gave us so much …

  • Elyce says:

    They had the best hot fugue ever! Wonderful, old fashioned ice cream parlor! As a child in the late 1950s to early 1960s, we enjoyed the place on Beverly Dr. in Beverly Hills. Later, in 1969 at 15 1/2, I had part of my second ever date there after seeing 2001 A Space Odyssey!

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

    Weird…Mystery solved! Each time I see the Wil Wright’s pic, it reminds me that there might have been a very popular one (as a Newbie) in the ’70s in Albuquerque. Searching that out, I find there wasn’t, but indeed a place called Farrell’s which apparently was also http://tinyurl.com/y7drrfs2 in Y’all’s Torrance. Caveat…if you scroll down further, you will go down a rabbit hole of getting lost in other nostalgia…LOL (Another uniqueness of the shoppe, was it was not incorporated in the regular mall structure, but it was when developers started the idea of using extra mall parking lot space to develop “pads”, e.g. a Toys R Us followed.

  • Marilynne Marcos Jawitz says:

    My husband’s first cousin Bobby Goodman owned the Palm Springs store. He visited from Florida in 1960 and stayed at Bobby’s mother’s house. He told me it was the best ice cream he ever ate to this day. I agree with him as I lived in West Hollywood in the 1960’s.

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