Friday, April 4, 2014

Chow Time: Brolly Hut

As the wacky wagon took us on one of our meandering drives to nowhere - via Torrance, CA landmarks Alpine Village and King's Hawaiian Bakery (and a few fortuitously-placed thrift stores) - I bemoaned our utter exhaustion of local wacky tacky resources.  I wondered aloud how much longer I could keep our adventures going without dedicating myself full-time to creating and documenting wacky tacky the world over (file that under: "My perfect and perfectly-unattainable life").

Then like one of those proverbial "Pennies from Heaven," just waiting for my umbrella (and my frown) to be turned upside down, came Brolly Hut (est. 1968).  The imagery may seem convoluted but, in this instance, it definitely makes solid sense to me that Brolly Hut is both the umbrella and the pennies...

Brolly Hut - Inglewood, CA

Not to be confused with its disinherited second-cousin by marriage in Hawthorne, CA, Brolly Hut is an anomaly even among Southern California's proud heritage of vernacular architecture, not so much for its form - after all, Seal Beach had The Parasol - rather for its name.  While visiting Australia I heard a few references to a "brolly;" following context clues I finally figured out that brolly meant umbrella (I'm always a little slow on the uptake).  Upon my return, I kept affecting my newfound down-under dialect around my aunt, an Australian transplant.  The moment I realized that she clearly had no idea to what I was referring was the last time I ever employed the use of the term "brolly."  I'm not sure if there are regional nicknames for an umbrella throughout America, but in California an umbrella is an umbrella.  I mean, who actually says "brolly" anyway?

It doesn't matter, Mr. Tiny always comes prepared with his own jolly brolly!!

As Mary was quick to note, we started our day with nothing but directionless angst and ended it eating inside a giant umbrella!  There are many interesting buildings around town in which to have an adequate meal where only the ghostly shadows of a once wildly-wacky tacky heritage remain.  The beautiful thing about Brolly Hut is that, instead of engaging in a systematic stripping away of character or allowing dereliction and decay, it maintains all of the original charm that informs diners how Brolly Hut got its name; without some of the simple but significant details, it would be so easy for folks to forget what makes Brolly Hut so special.

I am always transfixed by beautiful/clever/outrageous light fixtures and
this bounty of beautiful brollies did not disappoint; they truly illuminated
the space even when they were not illuminated themselves.

Eating between the spokes of a giant umbrella is a treat but
Brolly Hut's clever use of space is the real sensation.  Diving into
pastrami burritos, Colossal Burgers, and onion rings (we saw one
person enjoying all of these things), guests belly up to one of the
dozen-or-so laminate tables that arc around the enclosed counter and
kitchen.  The terrazzo floor, the mosaic tile, and the orange, molded-
fiberglass stools are their own silent reminders of fine-dining circa 1968.

Brolly Hut has an A-rating and appears to run a tidy operation.
Mary and I are both trying to avoid extreme eating and remember
that food is almost incidental to the "Chow Time" experience;
she chose a chicken salad and I a rather tasty chicken sandwich -
not a french fry in sight (a personal triumph)!!!

Brolly Hut is also a spectacular vantage for immersive people watching.  There was the lady who came in for the $4.59 hamburger special - I know because she said it right out loud to herself - but returned to the order window three times to upgrade her order item by item; she ended up with the Colossal Pastrami Burger, a massive Coke, and a large order of onion rings.  Lest you think I'm singularly obsessed with food, I should explain that I am obsessed with all of the details, like her tri-tone wig and the one leg of her leatherette leggings worn scrunched up to the knee, and her mismatched earrings.  As we say,"That's the money outfit."  There was also the hobo who performed a particularly-moving monologue about the deliciousness of the pastrami burrito for the entire restaraunt, "It's the best thing they got.  It has my heart and I always come back for my heart..."  It was literally theater in the round!!!  Most people completely ignored this fellow's petitions for financial assistance; so taken with his performance, Mary made a generous contribution toward the burrito fund (one of the more-expensive items on the menu) - only the best for our brolly friends!

If you've got a hankering for some fast food, we recommend skipping the golden arches or that fraudulent hamburger "royalty."  If you're caught in a rainstorm of wacky tacky doubt, seek the shelter of Brolly Hut.  And be sure that your brolly is upside down!!!

"Pennies from Heaven" - Louis Prima

Brolly Hut
11205 Crenshaw Blvd
Inglewood, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. A pastrami burrito? Eek. But I'd try one, just to see. Sounds like a cool place; love those light fixtures! And, I think they are called "brollies" on a regular basis in ENGLAND.

    1. I've yet to try a pastrami burrito - it sounds good but like a total gut bomb! I knew I wasn't crazy for bringing up brolly! They use it Australia too but I don't think my aunt was used to me speaking Australian to her. Hahaha!!!

  2. So gorgeous! Damn I need to go hunting down Florida kitsch asap!

    1. I know it's there! I can't wait to get to FL to explore!

  3. those lights are so wonderful! but i can't even imagine a patrami burrito, how strange!

    1. In a land filled with Mexican food, I think people get bored and then creative with their burrito fillings. It was one the most popular items being ordered that day.

  4. I'm Australian and I say brolly. Maybe you heard me say it when you were down here! I'm not sure what pastrami is though... some kind of luncheon meat? Very odd burrito filling, but hey, if it has the man's heart...!

    1. Yes, pastrami is a luncheon meat usually found at jewish delis. Also, you must be Australian if you use the term "luncheon meat." Hahaha!!!! I'm glad that you confirm my use of "brolly." My aunt was probably just taken aback; she's not used to speaking Australian since she moved here.

  5. Wow! I definitely have to check this place out! How deliciously fun! I live right near the Parasol, which sadly is now a Panera (which I somewhat ashamedly frequent quite often). Can't wait to grab a burger at the "Brolly"!

    1. Yes! Check it out and let us know what you think. I can't personally recommend the colossal burger but there are a lot of other patrons who can!

  6. There was a Norm's Burgers in Norwalk (on the Downey border) on Firestone and Studebaker that had an awesome circular umbrella structure. I hear it's closed now. I hope it doesn't get torn down - but I'm sure it sadly will. There's a pretty cool carwash down the street too you should check out.