Wil Wright’s


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…


Click above to enlarge

197 Responses to Wil Wright’s

  • Wayne Case says:

    I remember the Wil Wright’s Ice Cream Shop located on Santa Monica Blvd at Harper in what is now West Hollywood. (Probably 8200 block of Santa Monica Blvd.) The building is currently empty…most recently Good Eats. Iloved it and am sorry it’s gone!

  • Robert Stern says:

    I remember two Wil Wright’s locations, one on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, and another on Wilshire Boulevard near Westgate in Brentwood. One time, when I was about 6 (in 1966) at the Pacific Palisades location, my father let me hold the single scoop cone on my own. Just as we were walking out the door, the scoop fell off the cone (well, I was only six!) I got another, and as we were walking out, and teenage girl coming in stepped right on it! Dad held his laughter until we got into the car, but he told that story over and over for years after! Also have wonderful memories of going to the Brentwood location with mom and getting chocolate sodas with chocolate mint ice cream. Still love those even at BR31’s. Thanks for the memories Wil Wright’s.

  • Lee Sprinkles says:

    I have a menu from
    WWright BH ’64 w/
    Actor Don Murray’s auto
    my menu a little diff be
    glad to send pic

  • Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives says:

    I am a Los Angeles/Hollywood historian/author and I am a native Angelino.
    Of course Wil Wrights was an iconic ‘old world’ ice cream parlor and my family frequented all the various locations such as Tarzana, Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Westwood Village. It was one of the Hollywood type of places where celebrities could be seen. Celebs such as Rock Hudson could be seen at the Sunset Strip location, Rod Serling, the writer at the Westwood store, Debbie Reynolds at the Beverly Hills location and Liberaci at the Tarzana store.

    I have a research and photo library of Southern California and have photos of all the sites. Years ago a couple called me and said they purchased the assets of the Wil Wright company and wanted to open some locations and needed the research on how the stores looked, etc. I was excited that Wil Wrights might re-open. Unfortunately nothing happened. I was hoping to eat my favorite ALMOND cookies again.

  • Gino Rossi says:

    I am a photographer who took a series of slides in the 1960s I believe Wil Wrights was changing their design….staying with the basic. I was just looking through pages and found those slides….how cool.

  • G. Rochon Loll says:

    A note that may be of value in dating the posted menu:

    I’ve found a 1949 UPI article by Aline Mosby discussing the roots of Wil Wright’s. It has value in describing both the roots of the business (Wright came from Cincinnati, and apparently used an approach to making ice-cream common there), and confirming the use of high butterfat (21% at that time).

    The key relates to the message “by appointment, purveyors to HRH, Prince Michael Romanoff”- Mike Romanoff, the con-artist turned restauranter, had cut a deal with Wil Wright’s to serve their ice cream in his restaurant by mid-1949, and this message is a coy reference to that.

    As such, a date around this time would make sense- two other items on the menu (the message of one banana split per customer and the price of a quart of the Nesselrode Bula) match items mentioned in the article.

  • Robin says:

    Wil Wright’s Ice Cream was another regular stop but on the homeward leg a family trip to visit grandparents in Vista. My order was always coconut ice cream in a waffle cup, a double-decker if my parents allowed! The big succulent chunks of sweet tender coconut was amazing but I’ll remember most how the rich cream would coat the roof of my mouth with each delightful lick! Such a delicious childhood memory that sticks in my mind … and likely in my coronary arteries!

  • Nina Lees says:

    When we lived in Los Angeles, we loved to visit Wil Wrights. One year, when we were visiting the area, we tried to find it and walked the area and were very disappointed when we couldn’t locate it. Nothing compared to our visits there prior to our moving away in 1964.

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

    Ahem… as being a “Norma J”(?) back in the day: Sweet memory sharing! While these tabletops http://tinyurl.com/yxgnkny6 are larger I’m sure, I hope they and chairs come close to (enriching) your memory! (This is from a romantic patio in Albuquerque, NM serving ‘New Mexican’ cuisine with work intensive Red Chile Ribs http://tinyurl.com/y66grc9t (pardon an ad) being best on the menu! IMHO.
    (Ooopsy…Norway-Australia Ladies are tied…must get back…only minutes to go!!!!

  • Norma J Hayes says:

    When I was 19, my new sister-in-law took me to Wil Wrights in Hollywood late one evening. We sat by ourselves in the walled, brick floored, outdoor patio, amidst trees lit by strings of newly invented tiny white lights. The small, round tables had ornately patterned, white steel tops with classic ice cream parlor legs, as did the chairs. She ordered her favorite for us both, rich vanilla ice cream, topped with the freshest, sweetest raspberries I have ever tasted. It was a magical land of fantastic flavors and unbelievable charm that 60 years later warmly remains in my memory.

  • John Gibson says:

    I encountered Wil Wright’s ice cream, not in Los Angeles, but in Dallas. Stanley Marcus used to have it flown in to be served at the Zodiac Room restaurant in the downtown Dallas Neiman-Marcus. Expensive, but worth it!

  • Jon Howie says:

    What fun to find some history on this Ice Cream Parlor – I remember visiting the one in Pasadena in the early 1970’s…I was probably 7 years old the last time I was there – but have great memories of great ice cream which my mom and her friend Dorothy would order for us kids…wish I could go back for another serving!

  • Kathleen Hansell says:

    My late husband and his brother owned the Wil Wright’s in Tarzana in the late 60’s and early 70’s (Richard and Ralph Hansell). The parent company that we franchised it from changed the original formula for the great, rich ice cream that made it so good. Although we still paid them the same price for the product, it was nothing more than an “OK” ice cream. Other franchise owners joined together in a lawsuit against the parent company and that pretty much was the end of the chain. It was a lot of fun and we had incredible employees and a loyal clientele……weekends were just crazy. What great days those were!

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

    Yo Laurie…While I didn’t find a pic of Wil’s macaroons in a baggy, hope this Gal’s claim of her Mother’s claim of this http://tinyurl.com/y2knngrz “being THE recipe” might quell those pangs of youth of yours, altho there are some pangs of youth I’d rather keep alive…LOL! http://tinyurl.com/l5zxc68 Bon Appetit!

  • Laurie O says:

    We went to the WW in Palm Springs a few times in the mid ‘60s. I LOVED that place! Does anybody with pictures have a picture of the macaroons in the little bags? Somewhere there must be some of the bags still. That’s what I wish I could find.

  • Della Ware says:

    My Dad & I used to go to Wil Wright’s on Santa Monica Blvd. near La Cienega Street in West Hollywood up until 1976, I think. The Ice Cream was exceptional in quality. But Wright’s was also more expensive than other shops or brands, and my Dad came to the conclusion that the average person (which we were) along with the general populace, could/would not frequent the business as often then send other ice cream place that might cost less. So I guess Wright’s was too expensive to stay open. A shame really. It was a Wonderful, Unique Ice Cream Store!

  • Gaye Higgins says:

    In 1960s while my mother went to her weekly therapy sessions on Colorado Bl in Pasadena I explored Vroman bookstore and go to Wil Wright’s Ice Cream Parlor. My favorite ice cream was almost black in color with richest chocolate, coffee flavor with coffee grounds. As a young teen I was drawn to this mysterious, sophisticated, exotic ice cream as very cosmopolitan and adult and was rewarded with the greatest flavor. Closest thing I find today that comes close is the McConnell’s “Turkish Coffee” and it even has the coffee grounds. It could be made more authentic blending together with some dark chocolate ice cream to McConnells Turkish Coffee, What a great idea. Over the years I went to the one in Palm Springs and and others around LA especially Sunset Bl.🍨

  • Laura Perry says:

    My fave was the one on the corner of PCH and Dover Drive in Newport Beach. Used to go to Sunset Drive, too, but Newport was better. The best was Chocolate Burnt Almond with Swiss chocolate topping. I am sitting here tasting it, I promise.

  • Danny Lee says:

    Hello Mr John Cottrell
    I have the original Full Plastic Coated
    Menu from Wil Wright’s Ice Cream $100
    I live in Santa Monica Ca

  • John Hindsill says:

    Gary Blackburn -Apropos of nothing really, my cousin Robert and his family lived at 5 Skyline Drive, probably from the ’60s for about 2o years. It sounds as though ou were gone by the time they got there.

  • Gary Blackburn says:

    After I graduated from Burbank High in 1952 I discovered Wil Wright’s after attending a movie in Hollywood with another fellow, a neighbor. The WW was probably the Hollywood location but a more frequent haunt of mine, starting while in high school was Bob’s Big Boy at various locations (Burbank and Glendale). After a movie in Westwood Village by UCLA a friend introduced me to WW there. I loved the hot fudge sundaes but was especially enamored with Nesselrode Bula, nectar of the gods.

    I was drafted into the Army in 1953 for a two year period. After returning and becoming reacquainted with WW I spent a couple of years at Glendale College before completing an engineering degree at Cal Poly. I became employed at Bendix in North Hollywood. While at Bendix I got married and my folks decided to sell their home on Skyline Drive in Burbank after he pretty much retired from the screen writing business and moved to the Bluffs in Newport Beach to be near his yacht. When I would take a date down there, she and I would visit WW.

    (Among dad’s screen credits were several for Walt Disney including all five TV episodes of Davy Crockett and lyrics to the various songs including the immensely successful Ballad of Davy Crockett.)

    Dad once told me that some of the Disney people were partners in the Wil Wright’s enterprise. While I was at Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo the Fire House Five Plus Two came to entertain us. Dad was acquainted with them all at the Disney studio. Disney people cast an interesting net.

    Hamburger Hamlet, Wil Wright’s, Bob’s Big Boy (before Bob Wyan sold out to a conglomerate that drove it into oblivion) and other are nostalgically to be missed by many of us.

  • Rosalie says:

    Ah, Wil Wright’s — an important part of my life! In the late 1960s, I worked as a waitress at the factory store on Santa Monica Boulevard at Harper in what is now is the City of West Hollywood. Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream was my fave: deep chocolate with fine coffee grounds. Like a lot of employees, I gained some weight working there! Mr. Wright explained to me that he stayed in shape with isometric exercise, which he would do at his desk in his office, down the hall from the ice cream parlor. (Because of Mr. Wright, I still do isometrics and I think of him when I do.) He had been stationed in Italy in World War II and fell in love with the powerful flavors of gelato. After the war, he returned to Italy to learn the secrets of Italian ice cream, specifically the flavors. Of course, Italian ice cream has a lot less fat than Wil Wright’s did. A former top person from McConnell’s in Santa Barbara came to work with Mr. Wright at the factory store. I wish I could remember his name. I do remember Ivy, the main factory person. In 1969, after three years, it was time for me to move on. I don’t remember the timing of when International Industries took over. It was, however, the beginning of the end of Wil Wright’s Ice Cream. And crushing to everyone who knew him was his 1981 murder in his home on Rising Glen, north of Sunset. As I write this, it remains unsolved.

  • Michael Lederman says:

    Best thing about Wil Wright’s was the macaroons

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

    Yo Kathryn: the way I understand Mark’s introduction, there are probably no places to get Wil’s ice cream. However, you might try to see if Haagen Dazs ice cream is close…go here https://www.haagendazs.us/locator/ to find one in your area: put in your zip code; click on 5 miles to click on 25. Bon Apetitte!

  • Kathryn Starrett says:

    Hi, everyone! My husband used to eat this ice cream when he was a teen….he was born in 1929 and he lived in LA because his Dad was the Durango Kid. Anyway, are there any other locations or stores here I can purchase this ice cream? Thanks in advance!

  • Kate says:

    I worked at the Beverly Hills store on the corner of Beverly Drive and Charleville with wonderful Else who was my mentor and became my friend. When the business closed down, we stayed friends until she died. She bestowed upon me one of the marble ice cream tables and two of the chairs. I also had some of the heavy ice cream tubs and a couple huge milk cans. I painted the Union Jack on one of the milk cans and gave it to Else. I miss her so much.

  • DavidC says:

    The PS store became quite the hang out for me. Fun atmosphere and always good food and ice cream.
    There was one that made it the the Sun City area outside Phoenix. When visiting family there, an ice cream outing was a must.

  • Shelly Valladolid says:

    In what stores do you still find the ice cream?

  • Alan Rosane says:

    If your hand tires, hold the rasp at a 30-degree angle against the counter for leverage. If cheese or chocolate starts to melt in your hand, place the food and the grater in the freezer for a few minutes, then grasp the food with a kitchen towel and continue to work quickly, says Linda Carucci, author of Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks

  • john cottrell says:

    i am interested in buying the menu and post card you have for sale.

  • Lynn says:

    In the early 70s in Tarzana on Ventura Blvd my family would often go and have a sundae. Such wonderful memories though I was about 5 to about 9. But apparently Bob Crane opened the door there for my mother and me in my stroller. Wish I dI’d know where to find the ice cream. If I find out I’ll report back. Thanks for the stroll!!!

  • Greg Nolan says:

    I always went to the one on Santa Monica Bl, in West Hollywood. What a great place, and wonderful Ice cream.

  • 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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