The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) opened the doors at its new Glendale location earlier this year, and over the weekend, as part of a larger exhibit, it celebrated the re-lighting of "A jewel in MONA’s historic sign collection"—the neon rooftop sign from the Brown Derby’s old Hollywood and Vine location.
According to MONA’s website, the Brown Derby opened in 1929. After the restaurant’s 1985 closure, the sign passed through two private collections before it was donated to MONA. The re-lighting of the double-sided sign—which dates to the 1930s and looks like a Derby hat—marked its return from a recently completed restoration. The original sign, MONA notes, "glowed in a period-appropriate shade of ruddy neon" that was later changed to the white and yellow visible on the sign today.
Younger Angelenos might not know the full significance of the Brown Derby, but according to MONA, the restaurant was a favorite of celebrities, gossip columnists, and LA bigwigs. The location on Vine Street was, at the time, close to the studios and stayed open 24 hours, "making it a favorite of transplanted New Yorkers," KCET writes. One of the inventions of the Brown Derby’s chefs, the Cobb salad, has proven to have better longevity than the restaurant itself.
The refurbished Brown Derby sign can be seen lighting up in front of an audience at the museum in the video below:
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