Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stepping Back Into History and Remembering CLIFTON'S

Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria, 648 So. Broadway, Los Angeles (downtown), 213 627 1673, daily 6:30am to 7pm, since 1935. (For the complete story on Clifton's see my August 5, 2006 posting)

Clifton’s Cafeteria is credited with saving the lives of many down and out people during the depression with its "pay what you wish" policy. Founded by Clifford E. Clinton, the Brookdale branch was once the national headquarters for "Meals for Millions Foundation" a nonprofit corporation to prevent starvation (apparently in the US in the 1930s but I believe continues to this day). They also developed a special 5 cent meal served to 500 patrons a day "with the nutritional equivalent of beef, green peas, milk and potatoes". It was called "multi-purpose food". The meal checks used to say "Regardless of the amount on this check our cashier will cheerfully accept whatever you wish to pay - or you dine free". Can you imagine a restaurant today surviving with that policy? It seems our culture used to have more integrity.
Other branches, including a tropical themed one called Clifton's "Pacific Seas" at 618 So. Olive and a comparatively more elegant one called the "Silver Spoon" are long gone (although a sign for the Silver Spoon still exists at the location). The Seven Seas had primitive huts inside with rain and thunder effects and waterfalls on the outside exterior.

Beautiful Terrazzo in front of Clifton's Cafeteria

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