The Beverly Hills City Council, on the recommendation of the Cultural Heritage Commission, has awarded 10 Golden Shield awards to sites that have cultural significance within the city.
The sites are Don Loper Salon; Brighton Coffee Shop; Uncle Bernie’s Toy Menagerie; Wil Wright’s Ice Cream Shop; Mickey Fine Pharmacy; The Bistro; Ah Fong’s; Beverly Hills Nurseries; Warner Brothers-Beverly Hills Theatre; and Beverly Hills Speedway.
“We’re truly grateful for managing this iconic legacy, and we’re thrilled to be part of the city of Beverly Hills,” Gina Raphael, president of Mickey Fine Pharmacy and Grill, told the Courier upon learning her business was being recognized. “We continue to expand and evolve, and we truly become better every day to serve the community.”
Mickey Fine Pharmacy and Grill is the only remaining pharmacy in the Los Angeles area with a luncheonette counter and soda fountain. One of the two extant sites recognized in the latest batch of 10 Golden Shield awardees—the only other is the Brighton Coffee Shop—Mickey Fine Pharmacy has third-generation customers and team members who have been with the business for more than three decades.
Formerly known as Schwab’s Pharmacy in the 1950s, the retail operation was purchased by druggist Mickey Fine in the early 1960s and became the Mickey Fine Pharmacy. It was acquired by Melvin Gross in 1994. He ran the business until his death in 2003, at which point it was taken over by the Gross family, with Melvin’s son, Jeff, and Jeff ’s wife, Gina Raphael, purchasing the pharmacy from Melvin’s widow, Adelle. Today, Jeff and Gina run the pharmacy, which last year celebrated 60 years since becoming known as the Mickey Fine Pharmacy.
“The legacy of this pharmacy has been in very few hands,” Raphael said.
The place of business was active, among other things, in providing COVID-19 vaccines to people during the pandemic. Raphael estimated Mickey Fine Pharmacy provided more than 25,000 COVID-19 vaccines—”and we’re doing everyday vaccines as well,” she said.
The pharmacy is open seven days a week and delivers seven days a week.
The suggested plaque placement location for the Mickey Fine Pharmacy is in front of its entry doors, located in the Cordingly-Milner Building at 433 N. Roxbury Drive.
“The quaint drugstore is considered not merely a pharmacy but also a well-known and beloved general goods gift shop and café,” the city’s resolution recognizing the pharmacy says.
Brighton Coffee Shop, another Golden Shield designee, is one of the oldest eateries of its kind in Beverly Hills. Located at 9600 Brighton Way, its angled entry door distinguishes it from other cafes in the area. The original, located at 9612 Brighton Way, was operated out of a drive-in market from 1928-1936. In 1937, it moved into its current address. In 1968, it took on its current name. For generations, the well-established eating place has been visited by Beverly Hills residents and Hollywood stars alike. Local celebrity Doris Day is said to have adored the banana pancakes.
Another one of the recognized locales is the Beverly Hills Speedway, which will have two plaques, one at the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Bedford Drive, and one at the corner of Beverly Drive and Olympic Boulevard, where the primary and secondary entrances to the outdoor facility were once located. The now-extinct speedway held its final race in 1924.
For other long-gone businesses, including Wil Wright’s Ice Cream Shop, Ah Fong’s and Uncle Bernie’s Toy Menagerie, plaques will commemorate what was. In the case of Wil
Wright’s, formerly located at 200 S. Beverly Drive, the suggested location for the plaque is within the public sidewalk and in front of the storefront window of the address’ current tenant.
At the June 27 Council meeting, the five-member body adopted 10 resolutions to approve each of the Golden Shield nominees, making each awardee exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act after determining the adoption of these awards would not have significant environmental impacts.
There were originally 12 Golden Shield nominees in the latest round, but the Council opted to exclude two residential sites: the former home of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, at 1000 North Roxbury Drive, as well as the Rachmaninoff Residence, at 610 North Elm Drive. They were on the initial list for Golden Shield consideration, but they did not have the full support of the Cultural Heritage Commission. Council ultimately decided to leave them out, citing privacy concerns for the current owners of the homes.
The Golden Shield program was created in 2019. To date, there have been 30 Golden Shield designees by the Cultural Heritage Commission. The first six plaques have been placed into the ground, and the next twelve plaques are waiting installation.
“It is a great idea to highlight the rich culture and history and background of our city,” Councilmember Sharona Nazarian said before voting in support of recognizing the ten sites.
The Golden Shield cultural heritage recognition program spotlights places that have cultural significance to the city but perhaps do not rise to the level of formal local historic designation. Awardees receive a custom bronze plaque highlighting the location’s historical and/or cultural significance. These locations being recognized may or may not be currently extant at their site of significance.
The cost of each Golden Shield, including installation, is approximately $2,500-$3,500, and the department received a budget enhancement of $40,000 in its 2022-23 fiscal year budget to allow for the ongoing installation of up to 12 Golden Shields per fiscal year.
The plaques provide meaningful background information for a passerby. According to the city, the Cultural Heritage Commission Education and Outreach Committee is working with staff to create a comprehensive city walking tour that would include Golden Shield designees.