Los Angeles magazine first reported yesterday that the building that houses Clifton's Cafeteria -- also known as Clifton's Brookdale -- is for sale:
The last of the once prolific chain of restaurants has been serving up meat loaf and rainbow Jell-o at 648 South Broadway for nearly eight decades. The 46,405 square foot building was built in 1916 and is listed at $4,750,000. The restaurant may be safe for now, as the listing declares the property “100% leased.” The Clinton family purchased the building in 2006.
The Los Angeles Times noted that the son of Clifton's founder Donald Clinton told the paper in February that business was down 30%. Clifton's bought its downtown building in 2006 to weather an economic downturn; it must have gotten so bad, however, that they've opted to put the location on the market.
It sounds like Clifton's is safe for now, which is a relief. Clifton's is quite the experience -- bad food, yes, but quite an environment. It would be quite a shame to lose such a iconic, kitschy downtown mainstay.
Several Clifton's cafeterias once dotted Southern California; that number has dwindled to just one -- Brookdale. Located on Broadway, the location opened in 1935. A bit of history, via the Brookdale page of the Cliftons site:
As a youth, Clifford 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 20ft. 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 perched high amongst the crags fulfilled Clifford's desire to feed the soul as well as the body of depression weary Angelinos.
We blogged about a visit to Clifton's Brookdale in 2006; check out the post here.
Clifton's famous slogan, of course, was "Pay What You Wish, Dine Free Unless Delighted."