Sunday, May 27, 2007

Clifton's Cafeteria

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We had a marvelous time at the Southern California Restaurant Historical Society meeting yesterday at Clifton's Cafeteria. We arrived downtown early, around 9:20 am, so it wasn't too crowded. We found a $4 parking lot about a block away. The terrazo entrance to Clifton's is really beautiful. There are separate motifs embedded in the walkway of various iconic images of Los Angeles....the Griffith Park Observatory, the L.A. City Hall, a movie camera and more.

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The Observatory and The City Hall in Terrazo
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Walking into the Brookdale Clifton's is really a departure from the Broadway street noise. There's a waterfall, trees, soft music, mood lighting.
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We walked down the side hallway to the cafeteria portion of the building and chose our breakfast. The array of food available is breath-taking. Of course, they show the desserts first (and last).
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An Amazing Array of Jello Salads
I decided to have the spinach quiche, a side of sausage, orange juice and I just could not resist the flan. Larry had the waffle and grapefruit slices with coffee. There was an opportunity to have a freshly made omelet, but we wanted to sit down and eat quickly so we could go up to the third floor for the meeting/lecture. Christine called me on my cellphone while we were eating. She had arrived before us and saved us seats upstairs.
Christine @ Clifton's Cafeteria
Christine
The third level of Clifton's is a departure from the wooded decor of the first two levels. Here, the furniture, wallcoverings and lighting have the look of San Francisco in the 1890's. The wallpaper is red flocked, the furniture dark and antique, the carpet is red and the light fixtures are bulbous. It's very well maintained. Our meeting was held in the back of this dining area. I found out later that if you want to have a private party, this dining room is where you can hold it. Clifton's will even bake you a special event cake!

We saw many friends from the Mod Com and other walks of life at the lecture. The first speaker was Charles Perry. He spoke about the history of cafeterias in Los Angeles. It seems that during the 20's and 30's there were at least 200 cafeterias in the L.A. area alone. It was a very popular way to serve the public "fast" food in those days.

Next, Chris Nichols spoke about his new biography, "The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister." Mr. McAllister helped design many restaurants in Southern California. Chris also showed slides of McAllister's work.

Third, D.J. Waldie spoke about growing up in the suburb of Lakewood, California and the food and restaurant offerings of the area during his youth. There was a long discussion about Hody's Restaurant (which coincidentally, Mr. McAllister had designed).
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Roger Clinton, D.J. Waldie, Charles Perry
Roger Clinton, grandson of the original founder of Clifton's (Clifford Clinton) spoke and shared slides of Clifton's and other sites in L.A. with us. There was a question and answer period and then we all mingled and discussed our memories of restaurants in L.A. Larry Gordon wrote about the event in the L.A. Times on Sunday.
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I was so happy to actually meet Pat Saperstein of Eating L.A, who also wrote about the meeting on her blog today. I've commented on Pat's great restaurant blog many times and we've e-mailed each other, but never met.

Many people stayed for lunch at Clifton's. We were tempted, but had other glamorous places to be....like our laundry room at home!
Pat Saperstein @ Clifton's
Notice how the pattern on Pat's dress matches the flocked wallpaper!

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3 Comments:

At 3:40 PM PDT, Anonymous Christine G. said...

Ellen! It was so much fun to go downtown yesterday. My downtown experiences are usally limited to going around MOCA or the Cathedral or Olvera St., so it was fun to get a little more far afield. I stayed for lunch and visited a while with our new acquaintance, Pam the Librarian. When we were wrapping up she greeted some friends of hers, three sisters, one of whom I recognized as one of my Mr. Michael's former co-workers. And one of the sisters works at the Ford Theatre and knows Charles Phoenix!. SMALL WORLD, huh? So I stayed a little longer and got a heads-up on a Hollywood Heritage event in June. I'll get more details and will let you know.

I made my way slowly through all the jewelry stalls in St. Vincents, then I stopped off in Hollywood and (finally) got to Black Sheep Knittery and bought some of the last hanks of Noro that were left... $100 worth for $25. I'm planning for some Christmas gifts for co-workers.

See you soon pal.

 
At 10:46 AM PDT, Blogger mj said...

Somewhere there is an 8 x 10 of me having my fifth? sixth? birthday at Cliftons in Hollywood. It was a Tiki/Hawaiian motif as I remember, with real fish swimming in a "river" that ran along the walls of the restaurant. Loved that place. And I remember a kind of creepy Jesus room upstairs. But most of all I remember those little flags that got you a free toy.

 
At 2:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Catherine said...

I can't wait to go to Clifton's! I have never been and have always wanted to go. I shall take Mr. Bear there the next time we go hunting for L.A. food haunts. :)

 

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