Clifton's

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Clifton's

Postby nichols » Thu Dec 18, 2003 12:47 pm

Clifton's West Covina, "The Greenery," will close on December 31.

http://www.cliftonscafeteria.com/home.html

That means Broadway will be the last location. In the early '90s they had half a dozen locations...

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If they

Postby modfan » Mon Dec 22, 2003 8:40 am

Went the route of Fresh Choice or Soup Plantation they might still have a lot of the locations still open maybe...

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Postby nichols » Fri Jan 09, 2004 2:16 pm

Clifton fans flock to sale of cafeteria's keepsakes

By Karen Rubin, Staff Writer

WEST COVINA -- Marilyn Hedges walked out of Clifton's Cafeteria Thursday with a plastic price tag for strawberry cream cake, one of the cafeteria's all-time specials.

Richard and Charlene Jordan scored a black bar stool, which they plan to place in their kitchen.

They were among the diehard Clifton fans who attended a sale to buy plants, dishes, napkins, furnishings, hot plate covers, pots and pictures from the 45-year-old cafeteria in West Covina, which closed Dec. 31.

"We have people coming in and buying memories," said Robert Clifton, 49, one of the owners and grandson of Clifford Clifton, the founder of Clifton's Cafeteria.

Instead of lining up for plates of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, fried eggplant and banana cream pie, customers filed by a cashier to buy the fake flowers and ivy that once decorated "The Greenery" dining room.

Paul Lothyan, 58, of Hacienda Heights remembers the first meal he ate in 1967 after being discharged from the Army following a two-year stint in Vietnam. He still remembers what two years of "C-rations" can do to the taste buds.

"We wanted a home-cooked meal," Lothyan said. "My buddy and I pigged out. We were getting chicken and strawberry shortcake. We almost got sick."

Lothyan brought his 77-year-old mother, Pat, to the sale hoping to buy a 1937 black-and-white photograph of San Francisco's downtown, which showed the first Clifton's Cafeteria at the time.

"I wanted it for a keepsake," he said.

His mother, Pat Lothyan, bought several pictures and the gold wall mount of a smiling sun that hung at the beginning of the cafeteria line.

"I used to come here every day to eat," she said. "I don't know where we are going to go now."

The owners hope to make about $10,000 from the sale.

West Covina's Clifton's --which opened in 1958 at Westfield Shoppingtown Eastland and later moved to Westfield Shoppingtown West Covina --closed after a decrease in business.

Owners blamed the business decline to the changing food habits of a younger generation who live on fast-food and a surge in the opening of several Hometown Buffet restaurants which offer "all you can eat" for one price.

On Thursday, Lloyd and Ethel Beauchaine bought four white porcelain crocks that were used to bake the hot turkey pie, an entree the couple said they dearly loved.

"A lot of people want something with a nostalgic link," Clifton said.

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Postby Perks » Sun May 27, 2007 1:52 pm

I'm embarrassed to admit I'm one of those people who loves the place but who never manages to get over that way for lunch when I'm downtown... :oops:


---------------------------------------

Hungry for history at Clifton's
Lovers of L.A.'s fading cafeteria culture convene at the famous downtown eatery for a trip down memory lane and through the line.

By Larry Gordon, L.A. Times Staff Writer
May 27, 2007

If you are going to celebrate the savory but shrinking legacy of cafeterias in the Los Angeles area, why not go to the ground zero of meatloaf, carrot salad and strawberry shortcake?

That was why about 70 hungry members of the Southern California Restaurant Historical Society gathered Saturday at Clifton's Brookdale cafeteria, the landmark eatery that has been feeding downtown Los Angeles diners at reasonable prices in its simulated redwood forest setting since 1935.

Chris Nichols, an architectural historian who is the society's president, said it is important to treasure Clifton's because so many other cafeterias in the region have disappeared. Beadle's in Pasadena closed six months ago, and other branches of Clifton's have shut their doors over the years.

"I hate it when someone says they have a favorite old tiny restaurant, but they haven't been there for 20 years. I want people to come and live it and enjoy while it is still here, while it is thriving and still alive," Nichols said.

The mountain forest decor at Clifton's Brookdale — with a waterfall, a tableau of a family fishing for trout and a tiny inspirational chapel perched on a rocky ledge — is beloved as an "over-the-top fantasy world," Nichols said. "It's incredible to have a total immersive environment from the '30s that you can just walk into for the price of a cup of jello."

In a third-floor room decorated in a Victorian-era style, Nichols presented a slide show and talk on his new book, "The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister," about the designer of many popular carhop restaurants, hotels and nightclubs from the '20s to the '50s.

Other speakers Saturday included Times food writer Charles Perry, who attributed the rise of cafeterias in Los Angeles in part to their innovation of delivering food without a wait or waiter but with a selection that could be easily seen.

Cafeterias proved popular with the large number of conservative Midwestern immigrants, who enjoyed the hearty food and liquor-free atmosphere, Perry told the gathering. They became a center of social and political life in the '20s and '30s, but declined as older downtowns lost population to automobile-dominated suburbs and tastes changed, he said.

The biggest applause of the two-hour meeting erupted when Robert Clinton, whose grandfather Clifford Clinton founded the Clifton's cafeteria chain, announced that last year his family finally bought the building at 648 S. Broadway after seven decades of leasing.

That will protect the restaurant from the rent increases and leasing disputes that contributed to the deaths of so many other cafeterias, he said.

Business has grown a bit recently from the new loft and condo residents in downtown, and Clinton thinks they are "going to be a very important element of our customer base going forward."

In a region stuffed with the latest in sushi and pizza fads, nostalgia plays a part too at such surviving cafeterias as Clifton's and at Arnold's, a Long Beach institution founded in 1951.

"People will come came back after 30 years and say, 'I remember eating this macaroni and cheese and apple pie.' And the recipes are the same recipes we've used all these years," Clinton said. "Maybe that's part of the secret. People like things that are familiar. And they like things that don't change."

His family's restaurant, which seats more than 600, was quite busy Saturday with non-historians, including many Latino families on shopping treks along Broadway.

Among the popular items were pear-lime jello, $1.49; strawberry shortcake, $2.39; a plate of beef noodles, $3.99; meatloaf with stuffed potatoes, $5.79; and roast turkey with dressing, $6.54.

After hours of discussion, members of the restaurant historical society were eager for lunch. Nichols, who is an editor at Los Angeles Magazine, went along the food line downstairs with enthusiasm. He loaded his tray with a lettuce salad with French dressing; a bowl of three-bean salad; an entree of sliced turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce; pumpkin cream pie; and watermelon juice. The tab was $14.46.
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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun May 27, 2007 8:27 pm

Nice photo, Nichols.

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Wasn't there

Postby modfan » Mon May 28, 2007 4:55 pm

Some sorta promotion gimmick when they advertised on TV (yes they did folks!) where if your foodpick (the wide toothpick thingy that indicated rare or well done etc.) of the meat on the kids plate if it had a red daub on it you could get a prize from the 'treasure chest' or something like that. I remember something like that at the Eastland one. I got one and got a prize but I don't even remember what it was. Maybe Clifton's historical experts can enlighten us.

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Postby Synthetrix » Tue May 29, 2007 10:18 pm

I remember my granparents taking me to Cliftons in West Covina back in the late 60s and there was someone playing live organ music.
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Postby deanna b » Wed May 30, 2007 1:25 am

Synthetrix wrote:I remember my granparents taking me to Cliftons in West Covina back in the late 60s and there was someone playing live organ music.


I went there a few months before it closed and there was a youngish guy playing live organ music for eager grandmotherly fans.

I miss that place, and the other Clifton's locations as well. While the still-existing downtown location was always my favorite, I rarely get around to that part of downtown anymore.

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Postby nichols » Wed May 30, 2007 10:21 am

The location that Synthetrix refers to opened in 1957 at Eastland Shopping Center (designed by Wayne McAllister's partner William Wagner) Image
That location closed and a new one, "Clifton's Greenery," opened at the West Covina Fashion Plaza around 1976. THAT was where deannab probably saw the organist. I remember that same guy playing at Brookdale downtown around the time West Covina closed. Charles Phoenix has a record album of organ music from the West Covina location!
ImageImage

deannab, downtown is just a hop and a skip away from Glendale. There are parking lots across the street and next to Clifton's. They are open 7 days a week. I heartily suggest a meal there soon. :wink:


http://www.godblessamericana.com/2004-01-08/

http://www.cliftonscafeteria.com/pages/ ... _home.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westfield_Eastland

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Postby nichols » Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:03 pm

Rare COLOR shots of Clifton's

Image
Clifton's Lakewood, 1956 (Wayne McAllister)
Image
(Shot these off the wall, sorry about the quality.

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Postby nichols » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:08 pm

San Francisco and Chicago discover Clifton's and Downtown Los Angeles:

>|>|>
L.A. revival: Dum DA dum dum
Downtown is on the way back

By John Flinn
San Francisco Chronicle
Published June 10, 2007

LOS ANGELES -- If you're of a certain age, and of a certain level of cultural immaturity, it's hard not to gaze upon Los Angeles City Hall and have two distinct reactions.

The first is to hear the opening notes of the theme from "Dragnet:" dum DA dum dum. The bullet-shaped, 32-story tower appeared in every episode. "I work here," said Sgt. Joe Friday. "I carry a badge."

The second reaction is mild astonishment that the 80-year-old landmark is still here. I, like a lot of people, assumed it had been shuttered long ago and replaced with something shiny and postmodern.

For years I'd thought the same thing about the neighborhood over which it presides, Los Angeles' once-vibrant downtown. Abandoned in the decades after World War II in what Angelenos call the Great Freeway Diaspora, downtown had become a skid row hemmed in by sterile office towers.

But this is rapidly changing. The opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall 3 1/2 years ago put an exclamation point on downtown's comeback, which has been a decade in the making. It's still very much a work in progress -- and will be for years to come -- but fashionable restaurants and clubs are opening where you once found only pawn shops, and young professionals are returning as long-vacant Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Revival buildings are scrubbed clean and converted into loft apartments.

On a recent visit it was the old, rather than the new, that interested me. On Broadway, with its almost unbroken stretch of buildings from the 1920s and early '30s, it takes only a little imagination to transport yourself back to the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler, "Chinatown" and fedoras. In a city that adopts a new look about as often as Angelina Jolie adopts children, it's remarkable how many vintage restaurants and theaters survive...

(more)


http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ch ... 1990.story

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Postby nichols » Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:08 am

There were 11 Clifton's Cafeterias:

Pacific Seas – Olive St. (1931)
Brookdale – Broadway (1935)
Penny Cafeteria – Hill St. (1935)
Whittier Quad (1953)
Lakewood Plaza (1955)
Eastland – West Covina (1957)
Century City (1966)
Silver Spoon – 7th St. (1975)
Greenery – West Covina (1978)
Mid Town – Hoover St. (c.1974)
Laguna Hills (1970s)

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Postby nichols » Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:52 pm

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Clifton's cafeteria: The place where L.A. finds itself

With its long history and family tradition, Clifton's Brookdale still draws diners of all stripes. 'It's like coming home,' one patron says.
By Mary MacVean, Times Staff Writer
February 4, 2009
On Broadway downtown -- amid a jumble of shops selling gold necklaces and sports socks and electric guitars, amid exhaust and noise and has-been theaters, amid hipsters, the down and out and the just plain out of it -- an authentic piece of history goes about the business it began during the Great Depression, feeding everyone who walks through the glass doors.

Wander into Clifton’s Brookdale, the cafeteria on Broadway at 7th Street, and it might seem obvious what makes it unique. Perhaps the waterfall that cascades over several ledges. Or the huge moose head hanging on a wall overlooking one of the dining rooms and the bear holding a fishing pole. Maybe the tiny -- and popular -- tree trunk chapel with its neon cross and inspirational recorded message. But it's more than these.

Walk the winding cafeteria line and choose tiny red and green cubes of Jell-O (or three or four other kinds), liver (beef or chicken) and onions. Or stuffed peppers, pot roast, deviled salmon or Vienna loaf. Coleslaw, corn bread. Or, all of the above...

http://www.latimes.com/theguide/restaur ... 8170.story

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Postby Perks » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:55 pm

Just discovered an old photo of Clifton's Silver Spoon Cafeteria as I was going through a box of photos...Must have been shortly before it closed. I remember eating here once.

Image
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Postby deanna b » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:26 pm

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... 0926.story

Ray Bradbury celebrates 89th birthday at Clifton's Cafeteria

Sci-fi club members return to the Broadway eatery, a place where a young, poor Bradbury used to eat free. Now the older Bradbury hopes to see the struggling restaurant revived.

Ray Bradbury is presented a birthday cake from Robert Clinton, one of the owners of Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown L.A. (Bob Chamberlain / Los Angeles Times / September 18)
Photos: Ray Bradbury's 89th

By Mary MacVean
September 19, 2009

To celebrate his 89th birthday, Ray Bradbury returned Friday to a place where his writing career was nurtured, but it should be no surprise that the science-fiction master was more interested in talking about the future than the past.

Bradbury belonged to the Science Fiction Society, whose members met in the 1930s at Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway in downtown L.A.

But it was the Broadway of tomorrow that was on the mind of the author of "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Martian Chronicles," among many books.

"All the money is being spent on the south end of Broadway. . . . Staples and what have you," he said. "The money should be distributed all along Broadway."

He'd like to see Clifton's thriving near 7th Street, a restaurant in the Bradbury Building, mosaics on the sidewalks and a consistent color used prominently along the street -- preferably something that calls to mind the Latino community.

"I want to rebuild all of Broadway. That's why I'm here today," said Bradbury, who told of informally advising people about the design of a few shopping malls and of the downtown plaza outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Grand Avenue.

Bradbury and some friends organized Friday's lunchtime party, held about halfway between his Aug. 22 birthday and the Oct. 15 anniversary of the Science Fiction Society's founding. They had heard that the economic downturn had hit Clifton’s hard and wanted to show their support.

The party of eight went through the cafeteria line, several of them choosing turkey with dressing and gravy, before going to a third-floor table just a few feet from the room where the club met decades ago. Back then it was an impressive membership that included Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and filmmaker Ray Harryhausen ("Jason and the Argonauts").

The club founder was Forrest Ackerman, who died last year at 92. Ackerman was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and had what has been called the world's largest personal collection of science-fiction and fantasy memorabilia. He was a writer, editor and literary agent who published Bradbury's first short story in 1938.

"They dreamed of the future, and many of those dreams came true," said Robert Clinton, one of the owners of Clifton's.

Clinton gave Bradbury a cake and a cafeteria tray as a birthday gift.

One of the things the young Bradbury liked about Clifton's was its owners' policy that anyone who couldn't afford to pay didn't have to.

"In those days, Ray Bradbury never had money and always ate for free," Clinton said.

Bradbury has been "a huge, wonderful influence for everybody," said Lisa Mitchell, a friend since the 1970s, who joined him at Friday's lunch.

She recalled that no matter how tired he was after a lecture, he would sign autographs for all comers. "And then he would look over and find the shy boy who was too shy to come up, and he'd go over and ask, 'Do you want me to sign your book?' "

mary.macvean@latimes.com
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

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Postby nichols » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:14 pm

Clifton's "The Greenery" in West Covina was demolished over the weekend.

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Postby deanna b » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:20 am

nichols wrote:There were 11 Clifton's Cafeterias:

Pacific Seas — Olive St. (1931)
Brookdale — Broadway (1935)
Penny Cafeteria — Hill St. (1935)
Whittier Quad (1953)
Lakewood Plaza (1955)
Eastland — West Covina (1957)
Century City (1966)
Silver Spoon — 7th St. (1975)
Greenery — West Covina (1978)
Mid Town — Hoover St. (c.1974)
Laguna Hills (1970s)

I've seen a few vague references (with no address or dates) to there having been one in Woodland Hills. Is this just a bit of false info that got repeated, and made it into Wikipedia?

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Postby nichols » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:43 pm

The email response from Clifton's owner Robert Clinton:

"Clifton's in Woodland Hills?.......Never!"

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Postby scowsa » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:04 pm

From la.eater site
"Entrepreneur Andrew Meieran (The Edison), Councilmember José Huizar, Robert Clinton, former owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria, and Linda Dishman, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Conservancy met together to announce future plans for Clifton’s Cafeteria (on 7th and Broadway) now that Meieran has taken the reins. As expected, Meieran revealed plans to restore the iconic building to its original 1930s look and feel, both interior and exterior. Specifics include maintaining historical elements, updating infrastructure, and reviving cafeteria-style food service with the addition of a new menu on the ground floor available both day and night.

Not only will Meieran revamp the ground floor dining, but he also plans to add a lounge plus second more formal din-in restaurant on the currently unused floor above. Finally, as if that's not enough going on, Meieran will reactivate Clifton’s top-floor commercial bakery and offer fresh baked breads and pastries under the Clifton’s brand. Image, all of this taking place without closing Clifton's, the same way that Clifford Clinton originally converted the building from the Boos Brother’s Cafeteria in 1935. Clearly, an exciting revamp/addition coming to downtown.
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Postby Gnomus » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:38 pm

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