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.

67 Responses to C.C. Brown’s

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

    As we all seem to agree that Brown’s Vanilla (extra fatty?) ice cream served with chopped nuts and whipped cream and especially when ya can actually pour your own serving of Hot-Fudge from a silver gravy-like boat while seated in a tall “privacy booth” of darkened wood was the ultimate of experiences (well, except for Mark—LOL), it is surprising someone hasn’t bought the hot-fudge recipe, now in the hands of Lawry’s, to franchise ’boutique’ replicas. 
    Not to take away from Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors especially since one goes back to ’63 across from the footprint of a Woody’s Smorgaburger upon which a (Kiss’) Rock n Brews now sits at PCH and PV Blvd, but ya’d think a couple or a family might want to do a change of pace once in a while in terms of the aura which seems to haunt our memories! Just seems strange.
    (Elsewise, in light of it being Today… A tip of me glass to ya Lassies and Laddies and SLAINTE! Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís! “May we be alive at this time next year.” 

  • Steven S. Lamb says:

    My mother first took my brother and I here in 1973. Her Grandmother had taken her here as a child. The chicken sandwich was delightful but the Sundae with its hot fresh toasted almonds, high butter fat ice cream real cream and the hot fudge sauce were the best I have ever had still. A religious experience…tragically gone. That day a guy drove by in a tatty running 37 Cord convertible as we ate and later a Packard Darrin that had a 70s restoration. My nieces and nephews will never have the sundae Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton and my Great Grandmother and mother enjoyed.

  • Mark says:

    In the 70’s and 80’s my Father, Aunt and I would do a little food tour when visiting L.A. First stop; Alice’s Restaurant for French onion soup, then on to Tommy’s for a chili burger and finishing up at C.C Browns. Such Great memories.

  • Al says:

    My folks used to tell me about how special getting a sundae was and,of course, how the quality sort of declined over the years. Usually I would doubt them BUT they knew their butterfat! Same with See’s Candy. It was practically a religion but everyone sort of stopped viewing it as an unusual treat,late in life,complaining that the butter content was just not what it used to be.
    Considering their penchant for dairy, it is surprising that only one family member had a mild heart attack! And See’s? I am amazed that they opened a store in Bakersfield in 1941!! I recall going there,despite the lower butter content,and loving it!
    Great site for recalling good times! While I am far removed from SoCal, I actually kind of miss the world that my parents and grandparents grew up in.

  • Tina Burton says:

    Regarding C C Brown’s, from 1955 to 1959, I was a student at Eugene Loring’s American School of Dance which was located in the basement of the Garden Court apartments. We would head for C C Brown’s right after classes and it was a real treat for us after taking 2 or 3 consecutive classes. I’m in the San Francisco bay area now but I feel so sad that Brown’s is gone along with quite a few of the landmarks which made Hollywood what it was.

    I can go to just about every major city in Europe and find establishments which have been there for over 100 years or more and no one destroyed the buildings they are housed in or the businesses itself. Seems like the people in this country have no appreciation for established structures and history.

  • Deanne Mencher says:

    Well, when I first went to CCBrown it was probably late 50s . A few doors west was a professional dance lesson space called Eugene Loring’s. The building was torn down and the Galaxy is there now. After class we would gorge at CC when they still served coffee in porcelain teacups and elegant sandwiches on little delicate plates. the sundaes were superb. We also had lemonades and other milkshake kinds of stuff. There were beautiful booths and the candy counter was on the left as you walked in. For some reason the candy never piqued my interest. Later John S. bought it and I think it was his many children some only 8 and 9 who waited on the customers. It was a hoot. it is very sad such a historical place closed.

  • Jeremy M Brown says:

    I loved this place. I only found it in the early 90’s. I live in OC but made several trips. The old booths. The wallpaper. The ancient looking ceiling fans. The place was a welcome break to all the junk shops peddling t-shirts and crap, it had character. I was devastated when it closed, and I think I grow more sad as time goes by. I avoid the area now. The last time I did drive by, lo and behold, it was just another junk shop. very sad.

  • Dottie Johnson says:

    CC Brown’s also made delicious candy. It came packaged
    in a brown box. Does anyone know if the candy still exists?
    It was divine, you could only eat one piece at any sitting.

  • Buddy C says:

    They did sell the hot fudge recipe to Lawry’s, jars can be purchased at Lawry’s on La Cienega Blvd., at The Tam o’ Shanter on Los Feliz Blvd., or on line http://lawrysonline.3dcartstores.com/

    Pair that with some chopped freshly-roasted almonds, some real whipped cream, and quality vanilla ice cream such as Trader Joe’s (Haagen Daz is too intense, they specifically did not use it), and you’ve got the real deal.

    I went there weekly for about the last 20 years, got to know the Schumacher’s who owned it. John Schumacher knew his stuff and was a sticker for quality. The hot fudge is uniquely good, not “pasty” like most hot fudge you find elsewhere. Their chocolate sauce and marshmallow sauce were especially good too.

  • DavidC says:

    I have great memories of CC’s. I think what set them apart was the quality. The ice cream was all cream and no fillers as was the hot fudge. Didn’t have that chalky after taste most of the other ice cream store’s fudge. Wish they still made the bottles they sold to take home.

  • 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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