A friend alerted me this weekend that downtown's Clifton's Cafeteria is closed for food service, and is currently only operating as a nightclub. That's quite a bummer — it's always a fun spot to bring the kids and visitors, to explore the forest-themed environs on the first floor. It was the start place for the Great Los Angeles Walk in 2015, and was the perfect place for the "Twin Peaks" premiere party in 2017.
Opened in 1935 as Clifton's Brookdale, we visited the forest-themed eatery several times before new owner Andrew Meieran (who previously created downtown's famed Edison bar) shut it down for what was supposed to be a brief renovation in 2011.
Cut to nearly five years later, and rebuilding Clifton's became a labor of love for Meieran, who has kept the fun and the kitsch but added so much more to the place. Clifton's finally re-opened in 2015.
Clifton's original famous slogan, of course, was "Pay What You Wish, Dine Free Unless Delighted." Perhaps not enough folks were delighted with the updated cafeteria. I asked Chris Nichols via Twitter what he knew about the shut-down cafeteria portion of Clifton's, and he wrote back: "I also miss eating at Clifton’s. This just in from the owner: 'food is definitely coming back— pretty soon if anyone asks.'"
Clifton's has not done a good job of explaining to people when the food might return; perhaps that's because the ETA keeps changing. Since closing the cafeteria in what appears to be the late spring, they've said "summer," then "fall," and now they're keeping it a bit more vague. On their Facebook page, this is essentially what they're saying if anyone asks:
Unfortunately we’re closed today as we complete our Exposition Marketplace. We look forward to seeing you soon and to a year of extraordinary endeavors! Our Marketplace will feature an array of historic offerings and traditional favorites as well as amazing new classics!
Stay tuned -- but here's hoping we'll be dining under the trees once again soon.