Friday, May 25, 2007

The Southern California Restaurant Historical Society is holding a Salute to Cafeterias this Saturday at Clifton's Cafeteria (648 S. Broadway) in Downtown Los Angeles at 10 AM. I've never had breakfast at Clifton's before, just numerous lunches and dinners. jello. When I was a kid there was a branch of Clifton's in the Century City Shopping Mall, right behind my high school. We used to go there after school for tapioca pudding. The Century City Clifton's architecture fit in with the 1960's design of the Mall. It was sleek, orange, gold and modern. The Brookdale Clifton's interior is really different!
vintage photos, courtesy of Clifton's
I've spent a lot of time at this "mountain" hideaway in the center of downtown L.A. The interior is a wooded fantasy with fake redwood trees, flowers, animals and birds. Here's the description from Clifton's website:
"As a youth, owner, Clifford Clinton spent his summers in the Santa Cruz mountains among the coastal redwoods, not far from the famous Brookdale Lodge. This mountain feeling was the theme Clifford wanted for his new location. Working with rock sculptor Francois Scotti, Clifford created a 20 foot waterfall cascading into a quiet stream that meanders through the dining room. Redwood trees were used to conceal steel columns and a renowned L.A. muralist, Einar Petersen, created a life size forest on canvas covering one wall. A Little Chapel (click link to hear "The Parable of the Redwoods") perched high amongst the crags fulfilled Clifford's desire to feed the soul as well as the body of depression weary Angelinos."
I personally like sitting in the mezzanine area. It makes me feel like I'm sitting in a treehouse, among the fake leaves, looking down at all the other "campers" getting their grub. Hardly anyone every eats on the THIRD level. The last time I was up there, it was decorated in a San Francisco 1890's motif, with flocked red wallpaper, bentwood chairs and lots of white filigree wrought iron....divine!
The special guests tomorrow are D.J. Waldie (Author: "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir") on postwar dining in the suburb of Lakewood, Charles Perry (L.A. Times Food Writer and President, Culinary Historians of Southern California) on the origin the first cafeterias in Los Angeles, Chris Nichols (Los Angeles Magazine editor and author of "The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister") on the architect McAllister and his midcentury restaurants.; ALSO speaking will be special guest Robert Clinton, third generation owner of Clifton's Cafeteria.
Beautiful Terrazo Entrance on Broadway
I'm sure it will be a wonderful and delicious morning. I hope to see you there! Have a marvelous Memorial Day Weekend.....wooo's summer!
ADDENDUM: Yes, looking at your comments, I agree. Parking at Clifton's can be a bit of a challenge. We've usually been there for an early dinner....there's always meter parking available. We might have to park a few blocks south of the Cafeteria, or find a cheaper parking lot a few blocks away. Of course, the best possible answer would be to take the bus. I'm thinking, since this event starts at 10 am, street parking should be available. Well, we'll leave a little early, just in case. See you there!



At 11:03 AM PDT, Blogger Annette said...

My family ate at Clifton's regularly when I was a kid! We went to one in West Covina. I think it has since closed. My dad loves cafeterias and coffee shops like Dupars. I had no idea there was one in downtown. I'll have to take him there sometime. Thanks for the info!

At 11:26 AM PDT, Blogger Madge said...

You know I LOVE diners and coffee shops...but the two times I've been to the downtown Clifton's it scared me. This, coming from the gal who ate at Algemac's regularly until it closed...maybe it was the dioramas? Or maybe it's just suburbia making me soft....

Happy holiday weekend, m'dear!

At 12:51 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Oh Madge!

You're such a suburban housewife!
Sure, downtown LA can be scary at times, but it can also be an adventure!

I prefer the grizzly bears, fake plants inside Clifton's and winos on the street to greasy Algemac's anyday. I must say tho', the architecture of Algemac's was faboo...."googie" at it's finest!

So, I guess you won't be joining us at Clifton's tomorrow?

At 1:01 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Clifton's, it makes me immediately nostalgic for the bygone era. And the owner's ethics were so strong as well as politics. Didn't he get in trouble when he tried to stamp out city hall corruption? My one question is where do you park. I go to this horrible lot and it's pretty bad - it's kept me from going back.

At 3:17 PM PDT, Blogger mary said...

I remember eating at Clifton's with my grandparents who were out for a visit in the '70s... and I remember the ubiquitous jello and mashed potatoes with gravy. Mmmmmm...

At 12:11 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in LA (59 years ago) and have great memories of Clintons...especially the toy chest...also the chili dogs at the old Newberry's...

At 2:02 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Continuing on my Clifton's vibe, I plan to take the Metro Red Line to the Pershing Square stop, which lets you off at 5th just north of Broadway. Clifton's is just around the corner!

At 8:43 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,Everyone in Ca. In the late 60's our family was known to always eat in the Cafeterias around L.A. was cheaper for a big family even though we were a family of 5!! Our favorite place to eat was the Clifton's Cafeteria in Century City!! We loved to look around the mall where we may see to find some Stars around!! WE were Avid Star Finders. Loved the place. I have been out of Ca for along time and would love to go back to the place we always went.


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