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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Clifford Clinton's legacy: Clifton's Cafeteria, Downtown Los Angeles (Part II)

Last November I was in Los Angeles and had time to stop and see a few sights - including the recently remodeled Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. 

Clifton's is a Los Angeles area cafeteria chain founded by Clifford Clinton in 1932. Clifton's on Broadway is the last surviving location.

What stands out is the incredible decor. The main dining room is designed to look like the Redwoods outside of Santa Cruz, California - where Clinton spent time as a youth. You think the waterfall in the main dining room is cool? Walk back a bit further ... 

... to the MASSIVE faux Redwood tree in the back of the restaurant - towering some three stories. 

Walk upstairs to the street side dining room - reminds me of something out of Main Street USA at Disneyland ... 

... meets Night at the Museum. Enjoying your meet next to realistic dioramas of taxidermied animals. This is of a coyote chasing an antelope. Very Californian. 

On the other side of the room, you have Africa - and the king of the beasts. Wow. There's no glass case - but don't touch. 

Where do you get stuff like this? 

An African safari? An estate sale? Or maybe a Natural History museum that's going out of business?. 

The sign out front describes Clifton's as a "Cabinet of Curiosities." The new owners took four years and spent $10 million to resore the restaurant to it's original 1930's and 1940's grandeur - curiosities and all. 

And they really did. Check out the incredibly restored staircase. Wow. 

I absolutely recommend a visit to Clifton's. It's a 80+ year old Los Angeles landmark, and is also considered the world's largest cafeteria. In the middle of Downtown Los Angeles. Who knew? 

Here's a link to last week's post, highlighting not only Clifton's the restaurant, but the founder Clifford Clinton. 

I had no idea, but Clinton was an incredibly generous man, coming close to bankruptcy in his efforts to feed needy Angelenos during the Great Depression. A deeply committed Christian, Clinton also fought for years against the corruption of City Hall, served in the US Army in World War II,  and came in second (out of 15 candidates) in an election for Mayor of Los Angeles, and work to solve world hunger through his self funded non-profit Meals for Millions. Truly an incredible man. Apparently, his grandson is working on a book on his life and legacy. Clifford Clinton's legacy really is more than a chain of local cafeterias. 

Back outside and across the street. Clifton's is tucked in between the buildings near the corner of 7th Street and Broadway. 

This is old school Broadway - primarily catering to Mexican and Central American immigrants. It seems like only a matter of time until the this patch of Broadway undergoes the same changes - that is, the same gentrification - nearby Spring Streets and Main Streets have experienced. 

Apparently, Apple in the process of securing a lease for a Downtown Los Angeles Apple Store at 8th and Broadway. My guess is that in 5-10 years (perhaps even sooner) these photos will feel historic. 

Catedreal de la Fe, a Pentecostal Church, located in The State Theater in the 13 story United Building, at the corner of 7th and Broadway. 

Jesuscristo es SeƱor. Jesus is Lord. Absolutely. 

My guess is that Catedreal de la Fe rents (rather than owns) the theater. Assuming that's the case, I'm curious is they'll stay put - or relocate? If they stay put, will work at create an English speaking service as well? If not, will The State Theater remain a theater ... or something else?

Back at the corner of 6th and Spring Street - heading back to my car. Many of these old office buildings have been recently been converted to residential. Got to love the massive ficus tree on the corner. 

More ficus trees, along with some outdoor dining, along Spring Street. When their roots are not ripping up sidewalks, ficus trees are great. 

By the way, this was the Saturday before November. Beautiful sunny skys and a warm Fall afternoon. Say what you will about Los Angeles, but it's got some of the most ideal climate in the world. 

I had parked a few blocks away, at the corner of 6th Street and Main. Across the street are the Santa Fe Lofts and Pacific Electric Lofts. These are a couple more examples of historic buildings that have been converted into apartments and condos. 

Like the rest of Downtown Los Angeles, metered parking isn't necessarily cheap - but I was there less than an hour, so it was the way to go. Great experience. I wanted to check out The Broad and Clifton's. And next time bring my wife and kids.

© 2016


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