Clifton’s Cafeteria is back! Well, it never really left, but last week the grate-like aluminum covering that has been in place for nearly fifty-years was peeled away to reveal the South Broadway building’s original 1904 facade. The landmark is undergoing a long-awaited restoration, and new owner Andrew Meieran plans to reopen the cafeteria to the public when renovations are completed in about 18 months.
Anyone who grew up in Los Angeles will remember Clifton’s Cafeteria. What I remember best is going there with my parents, and being allowed to choose what I wanted to eat from the rows of carefully arranged dishes. Food never tasted so good, even if it was a plastic bowl of quivering red Jell-O topped with a dollop of canned whipped cream.
The new Clifton’s will feature an updated menu along with classic cafeteria fare. There are plans for a ‘tiki bar’ on one of the upper floors, and Meieran said he is also considering a 24-hour menu, which would be ideal for the downtown post-clubbing crowd.
At last week’s ‘unveiling’ Meieran gave the attendees a little history of the famous eatery, telling how Clifford Clinton opened the restaurant in the midst of the Great Depression, hoping it would lift the spirits of the people in the city. According to Clifford’s son Don, the name “Clifton’s” was a combination of Clifford Clinton’s first and last names. Don, who started working at the cafeteria when he was 19 and spent 65 years there, said he was pleased that Meieran was keeping the restaurant’s fanciful redwood forest motif since he was under no obligation to do so. Don Clinton, now 85, said his father chose the forest theme because of his love for the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I can’t wait until the Clifton’s reopens. I’ll be one of the first in line, reliving my past through all those dishes from my childhood. First on my tray: a nice big bowl of that red Jell-O.
648 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014
The restaurant will reopen to the public in late 2013.
While she’s patiently waiting for Clifton’s Cafeteria to reopen, Marsha can be found at Sweatpantsmom.com
Photo: Clifton’s Cafeteria