Luncheon The Original Brown Derby. ; The Brown Derby was the name of a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles, California. The first and most famous of these was shaped like a man's derby hat, an iconic image that became synonymous with the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was opened by Wilson Mizner. The chain was started by Robert H. Cobb and Herbert Somborn (a former husband of film star Gloria Swanson) in the 1920s. The original Brown Derby restaurants had closed or been converted to other uses by the 1980s, though a Disney-backed Brown Derby national franchising program revived the brand in the 21st century.