RIP Clifton’s Cafeteria

After 80 years in business, Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles closed its doors Sunday.

Once part of a chain, Clifton’s was the oldest surviving cafeteria-style eatery in LA and the largest public cafeteria in the world, according to Wikipedia.

The establishment was founded in 1931 by Clifford Clinton, who combined his names.

In 1946, Clifford and his wife Nelda sold the cafeteria to their three younger children and retired, devoting their attentions to a Meals for Millions, a non-profit charitable organization Clinton founded in the wake of World War II to distribute food to millions of starving and malnourished people throughout the world.

Clifton’s Brookdale was sold to nightclub operator Andrew Meieran, owner of the Hotel Edison, on September 21, 2010. Meieran will turn part of the restaurant into a nightclub.

For those of you who have never been to Clifton’s, here’s a taste of what you missed:

Jello served on a plate with lettuce.

Red velvet wallpaper on the third floor.


An indoor waterfall that doubles as a wishing well.

Amazing vintage hotel art.

For more images, visit my Tumblr page.


  1. Clifton’s closure will hopefully be a brief intermission in its 80 year history. We plan to re-open the cafeteria line early next year– and the jello with lettuce will be back! Not to mention the Redwood forest and original art deco fantasy decor. Nightlife will be just part of the expanded Clifton’s Brookdale, with an homage to the Pacific Seas (a Clifton’s location closed in 1960) on one of the upper floors along with numerous other surprises worthy of Clifford Clinton’s original vision.

    • That’s great news! Please tell me that you’re keeping the red velvet wallpaper. That place is stunning. Jello on lettuce in a cafeteria line is a reason to drive across town in itself. When will it re-open!??!

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