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.

35 Responses to C.C. Brown’s

  • Mary Lou Wallace says:

    My best friend Walt Mitchell and I always made a point of going to C.C. Brown’s when we visited Hollywood and were saddened when it closed, especially since we missed the closing by a bout 3 weeks. We enjoyed the hot fudge sundaes but what we enjoyed even more was talking with longtime owner John Schumacher. I guess he enjoyed talking with us, too, because when we stopped in during our annual trek, he remembered us.

  • Dennis Copelan says:

    Lawry’s bought the rights to C.C.Brown’s. You can order a C.C. Brown’s sundae at any one of their restaurants.

  • john says:

    I went out to Hollywood in 1982 to work on movies. I lived out of a mini home and parked it in the Safeway grocery store parking lot and lived there. Evening when I had extra money I would go to C.C.’s and have a hot fudge Sunday or an egg cream. I miss that.

  • Ted Sanchez says:

    I used to deliver chocolate there in the early 80’s, I loved the feel just walking in! Everyone that worked there was awesome! Too bad it’s gone we need more places like that!

  • Bob of Los Ranchos, NM says:

    A delight in the big, dark brown booths after seeing West Side Story at Grauman’s Chinese next door, some sort of concert at the Hollywood Bowl, etc.

  • Larry Parker says:

    We had just arrived back in L.A. from a two week trip to France and Italy.. So we couldn’t settle down and decided to stop in to CC Brown’s for a Sundae. We splurged for an extra metal caraf of caramel and fudge … I told the waiter about the extra charge “No problem” When the check came… I realized we had no money… “Whoooops!” We promised to come back and pay another time….. I explained how I owned a restaurant in BH…. but I felt so stupid! They let us leave…. I did go back the next day and paid my bill…. We’ll never forget how foolish I felt ordering like a bigshot with no cash!!

  • Ned Hannah says:

    I lived on Franklin in the early 1990s, about a block and a half from C.C. Brown’s. At least once a week I had a sandwich there, followed by a hot fudge sundae. So sad to visit Hollywood and see C.C. Brown’s was gone!

  • Dana Gabbard says:

    The Tam O’Shanter in L.A.’s Los Feliz district (owned by Lawry’s) has C.C. Brown hot fudge sundaes. Tasted good when I ate there recently. P.S. Walt Disney used to frequent the place, has that old world charm and good food: <a href="http://www.lawrysonline.com/tam-oshanter&quot;

  • Bob W. says:

    The new website for the CC Brown Hot Fudge is: http://shop.lawrysonline.com/e-store/prod_details.asp?pid=11221331591200&pcid=7927396476

    $32 for 4 bottles. Would last 2, maybe 3 nights at my house.

  • H. Hume says:

    My mom, who’s 80 yrs old, has been away for 8 years. She’s finally coming for a visit. She’s the type of person that won’t ask for a thing ever! I asked her what would you like to do 1st (since she was raised from 14 yrs old in Hollywood, CA).
    The only thing that was on her wish list to do was to visit CC Brown and have a hot fudge sundae.
    Now what am I going to do? I would give her the world and now there’s no CC Brown.

  • Will Hamblet says:

    Take her to The Tamoshanter. Even the almonds taste like they did at CC Brown’s.

  • Nancy Siris-Rawls says:

    Memories from childhood. I took my future husband there on our first date. The best hot fudge sundaes ever.

  • Jim D. says:

    When I was growing up in the 1950’s, my Grandmother used to take me to
    CC Brown’s on Sunday afternoons, usually after a visit to Travel Town in Griffith Park. It wasn’t just the Sundaes, it was the whole feeling of the building, the booths, the very high ceiling, the light fixtures, the sounds and the smells. The sandwiches were good, and they had their own line of chocolate candy that was a rival for See’s. I continued to go there occasionally, until they closed in 1996. It was one of the first places I took my Wife when we first started dating.

  • TG says:

    I found out and went to this ice cream store a block down from the Chinese theater. I had the specialty, chocolate sundae. I was greatly disappointed because the taste was terrible and full of rubbery milk fat. I left and couldn’t agree that the hand-made ice cream was anything but disgusting. Thrift drug store ice cream was better tasting and 85% of the over price at C.C.s. YUK!

  • Alexandria Ave says:

    CC Brown’s was truly an L.A. classic! Add Thrifty’s ice cream and what more did you need? It was truly an institution-that will never be recreated, but can live on through Lawry’s version of the famous recipe. Try it, as it is much better than a “microwaved” jar of any other sauce. It still is out there and it is good!

  • Ron Holmstrom says:

    About 1976 0r 1977, my friend Jimmy Schuster and I auditioned for parts in ‘Dracula’ at a little playhouse next door to CC Brown’s. We got call backs, Jimmy for the role of Van Helsing, myself for Renfield. When we went to the theatre a couple of days later, it was locked up, so we went next door and had sundaes. We never saw the producer again and the production never happened, but Browns became a favorite of mine.

  • CynDS says:

    The hot fudge is now served at Lawry’s and its earliest restaurant, Tam O’Shanter (on Los Feliz, on the Glendale side). It’s nowhere as good as it used to be, or even as it was when it was packaged and available at stores like Bristol Farm in the recent past.

  • L Morrison says:

    My friend, Marguerite, took me there after a movie, as I remember. The fudge was made with bourbon extract instead of vanilla. They sold cans of it to-go. I was so disappointed to hear that it’s gone. Ditto for Carnation’s down on Wilshire and Jack’s drive-in on old Route 66. And the other posters are right, it wasn’t just the fudge. It was a step into the past. The employees were engaging and friendly. If Lawry’s DOES have the license, do they sell the fudge? Enquiring minds want to know.

  • Will Hamblet says:

    Yes, they do. Makes for great stocking stuffers during the holidays.

  • jim says:

    I remember that the spoon did not fit in the little ceramic pot that the thick hot, hot fudge came in, most frustrating indeed! My dad took dates there back in the way, way olden days. (I too went there after seeing West Side Story at Grauman’s Chinese with my mom). The almonds were perfect, and the ice cream much more butterfatty that the Hagaan Das they now trademarkingly use at Lawrys.

    Picture of the pitcher is at
    http://blogging.la/2007/11/04/just-desserts-cc-browns-lives-again/

  • Robert Abooey says:

    Like so many other great institutions, sadly CC Brown’s is no longer around.

    My wife and I used to love going there when we were dating and after we were married. The old time atmosphere and furnishings were great! Their Tin Roof Sundae was my favorite.

  • Will Hamblet says:

    No, the spoon did not fit in the pot. So, you turned the spoon around & dug out the fudge with the other end. At least that’s what I did!

  • Alan Jacobs says:

    During the war, my mom and I lived in a boarding house on LaBrea just a few blocks from C.C.Brown’s. My pop was in the Navy shooting at “Japs”, and sending money home each month. We didn’t have much just then and my only treat was to go the Hitching Post on Hollywood, right across the street from the Pantages Theater where the Academy Awards were held. After Roy Rogers and Bob Steele, Johnny Mac Brown, Gene Autry et. al. which my mom lovingly withstood for a couple of hours we would walk back up Hollywood, maybe stop at Grauman’s Chinese to look at the footprints, and then to C.C Brown’s for, what I remember now some 70 years later, a luscious Hot Fudge Sunday: hot roasted almonds in a cup that you spooned on top of the vanilla ice cream and the the milk chocolate Hot served in crock. If I promised to be a really good boy for the next week, she’d let me have a second one. I was always sorry when we finished and kept with it was Saturday a week.

  • sarah says:

    I worked at CC browns when they re-opened in the schwabs shopping center in Hollywood around 2006. Didn’t last very long. The heir and a partner decided to keep it going. The guy he partnered with was an idiot – on my last shift before the place closed, he decided to take drugs and get naked in the middle of the store. Very sad.

  • Derek Galloway says:

    My Grandparents would take my mother and her sister there in the late 40’s they all loved to eat the Hot Fudge Sundaes , my mother would take me I really loved it there and thought the Father, Wife, daughters who would help serve us where really nice the whole family business was just a fun place to go I grew up going there from the 70’s off and on til the 90’s. I moved away from Hollywood but I miss all the great places especially C.C Browns.

  • Frank says:

    The original neon sign from CC Browns is on e-bay for sale item number #141204676613. Super cool, if I had the money I would buy it and but it in my man cave. Great memories

  • Aston Banniser says:

    DeMlle is still taking his Daughters there..and hobnobbing with Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford ……..in Hot Fudge Heaven..

  • Mary Anne says:

    Loved their hot fudge sundaes. My mom and aunt took me there after we saw “Gone With the Wind” at the Egyptian Theater (a re-release about 1952 or so). In the early 1960’s, a big deal date for me was a first-run “Limited release” movie in Hollywood, and a stop at Brown’s afterwards. No place like it.

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

    Lest someone, like a tourist, take exception to (Grauman’s) “Egyptian”, such existed a few blocks to the East on Hollywood Blvd. (Pardon, don’t know how long this map is viable: http://tinyurl.com/m5qp4fr; history: http://tinyurl.com/2gb42f)
    Slainte!!!

  • Lynn Shepodd (@homesinla) says:

    The best, in my view was the hot caramel sundae. Diminutive and awesome.

    The hot fudge recipe is still served at Tam o Shanter on Los Feliz since they (Van de Kamps) bought the recipe. The best thing to do at home is NEVER use sliced almonds only rough chopped as in the photo, and make your whipped cream in a charger. You will come close.

  • Jack Ince says:

    I lived on Orchid Ave — just a block from Grauman’s and Brown’s.
    I would play tennis at the Garden of Eden hotel, go across tthe street to the Gotham Hotel for a pastrami sandwich and then on the Brown’s.
    It was a touch of heaven in Hollywood.

  • Bob Brown says:

    In the 1950s and early 60s, I used to have lunch (yes, they also served sandwiches) at C.C. Brown’s a couple of times a month and accompany my parents to see an afternoon major studio release at the Chinese or one of the other prominent movie theaters in the Hollywood area. A great place and many good memories.

  • Bob in Irvine says:

    Sadly, the “CC Brown’s” sauce now sold at Lawry’s restaurants is primarily corn syrup. There’s no way the sauces at the former CC Brown’s in Hollywood was polluted with corn syrup.

    My fiance bought some, and it looks and tastes like any other cheap supermarket jarred fudge. On a 10 scale, it gets a 6.5, and that’s being generous.

    Don’t believe you’re getting anything resembling the real thing.

  • Joyce Tamara says:

    I can’t believe that no one has mentioned that which to me was the most unusual feature of CC Browns…child labor! When I started going in the eighties, it looked like an entire family of 5 worked there. Son, daughter, Mean Daddy (as I called him). Their portrait was on the wall, wasn’t it? I had never been served by a 12 year old at 9 or 10 at night and it freaked me out. I always wondered how they felt about their servitude, and now as I sit in Tam O Shanter reliving the glories of that sundae, I wondered what happened to those kids and if they can stomach the smell of hot fudge to this day!

  • Georgina Brown says:

    Brown’s Ice Cream parlor featured prominently into my odd So Cal childhood. Brought up by Canadian parent living in California, I knew the best of both countries. And Brown’s was a favorite meeting spot for our family (Mom’s maiden name was Brown) and our friends, the Browns. My Mom’s friend knew of the ice cream there, as she had frequented the parlor as a child actor when she had been working in movies with Mary Pickford, and was taken there often if she was a good girl! So sadly it is gone, and the Browns can no longer meet the Browns at Brown’s, but the memory of their decadent hot fudge lives on in my memory! Years later my Mother came up with a recipe that was a fine substitute for those days when nothing else will do but a Hot Fudge Sundae!

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