Clifton's Cafeteria Los Angeles CA Route 66
A Silver teapot made its way home to Clifton’s Cafeteria after 67 years from the time it was stolen. In September of 1942 a bride and her sailor were on their honeymoon in Los Angeles CA. They stopped in for lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria where the bride Virginia admired the pretty silver teapot on the table. Her new serviceman husband popped the teapot in his sailor hat and absconded with it for his bride. That teapot stayed in their home in their teapot collection for 67 years till Virginia returned it with a sweet letter to Clifton’s where it is on display today. Her sailor is gone now, and the teapot she said always brought back great memories.
Clifford Clinton started his cafeterias in 1931 the first being on Olive Street in Los Angeles, the Pacific Seas. The Clifton’s on Broadway called Brookdale was his second cafeteria. In all he would have 9 cafeterias in Southern California with the one on Broadway being the only one still open. The West Covina location was one of the last to close of the other eight in 2003.
The Clifton’s on Broadway has a woodsy theme, to remind Clifford of his days in Santa Cruz. The interior was an amazing place going back to 1935 when the cafeteria opened. It was a virtuoso of curiosities, and delighted young and old alike. Food was good, plentiful and not too expensive back in the day at one point a sign even said Pay what you can. The neon was original, and true neon, the red orange gas neon!
In the 1940s this cafeteria would serve over 10,000 guests per year and was the largest cafeteria in the world. It closed between September 2010 and October 1, 2015 when the new owner Andrew Meieran did a refurbishment of the original façade and inside back to the original. The reopening of the Cafeteria in 2015 was followed by a Tiki Bar Pacific Seas, on the third floor which pays homage to Clifford Clinton’s first cafeteria. Unfortunately now the cafeteria part of the building is closed but it does open for the bars at 6 in the evening
My very first job out of college was downtown Los Angeles on Olive Street in 1976 at Household Finance. By this time the original Pacific Seas Cafeteria on Olive Street was gone, and the building we now know on Broadway would have had an aluminum front facade, so I never paid this building much attention, just another building. When the aluminum front was put up in 1960 it was in the hopes of “modernizing” the cafeteria to a “beat generation”. The original façade was left intact under this aluminum façade. To all the Route 66 and historic building enthusiasts we are so glad that it was. Oh, how things have changed, and now we appreciate the “old” for what it has to offer and relish in the history. In 2010 work began to uncover the original Façade, fix the neon and restore this beauty to its original look. They did an outstanding job.
The tiki bar is well done. Check google for days and times It is worth the trip to downtown Los Angeles, there is a convenient parking garage directly across from the cafeteria at the St Vincent Jewelry Store Parking enter on Broadway.
Clifton's is located at 648 S Broadway Los Angeles