Clifton’s Cafeteria sold

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The venerable downtown L.A. cafeteria, one of my favorite stops and perhaps one of yours too, has been sold — but despite the end of almost 80 years of family ownership, it may not be such a bad thing. The new owner promises to keep the ambience and comfort food while making better use of the upstairs and restoring the exterior. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Read the L.A. Times story here — and check out this amazing panorama of the interior.

Feel free to post a comment here about Clifton’s.

A tray at Clifton’s Cafeteria, shot in November 2009.

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  • Warren

    It has been a long time since I have been to Clifton’s. I have to admit that the last time I was there, the red cars were still running. My mother would take my brother and I on the red car downtown where my brother had a doctor’s appointment. Before we would go back to Duarte, we made the stop at Clifton’s for lunch. But the best part for a 5 year old was the treasure chest for kids. I can even recall the “lost” terminal downtown. David, you always have a way to bring back memories (good ones too).

    [Pretty neat that in ever-changing L.A., a few places from the Red Car era are still in operation in today’s Red Line era, isn’t it? (That’s yesterday’s trolley vs. today’s subway, some 50 years apart.) The Clifton’s you knew isn’t so much different than the Clifton’s I know. — DA]

  • Andy

    Great childhood memories of Clifton’s. Glad it is being saved. There is some interesting info about Clifford Clifton and his Meals for Millions at

  • Janet

    I remember taking the Red Car from Paramount to go to downtown LA at Christmas time to look at all the decorations in the store windows. Whenever we went we would always go to Clifton’s, but I couldn’t figure out why my mother wouldn’t get much on her tray. Well, it was because I got everything and of course couldn’t finish it so she had what was left. Getting something from the treasure box at the end just made the day so perfect.

  • shirley wofford

    I too went there on the Red Car, when I was visiting my aunt, who lived in what is now Korea Town. I took the Red Car downtown, shopped at Bullocks, and had lunch at Cliftons. It was bustling and beautiful, with a waterfall. I had enchiladas (I was just learning about Mexican food, which didn’t exist where I came from). The Red Car fare was 11 cents, one way.

    I had a classmate who had also come to CA at the same time I did. Her husband worked for Standard Oil, and the next thing I learned, he was driving a Red Car. I was puzzled about how he went from Standard Oil to being a street car driver. Little did I know! It pains me greatly every time I think about that whole system going extinct, due to the oil industry.

  • jane kline

    I have never been to the cafeteria but love the story and history. A powerful witness to the faith in a living God for sure. A place where people found hope and help in one of the worst economic times in our history and they are still doing it today. I hope and pray they only help the cafeteria to continue be better and don’t destroy its history and legacy with slot machines, computers and the like.

    I hope one day to get to LA and to see it for myself. I use their story every year in an Easter sermon for my congregation.