Clifton's, Los Angeles 1940s

Clifton's, Los Angeles 1940s

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Product Description

Clifford Clinton arrived in Los Angeles in 1931 from San Francisco, where his family had a hotel and cafeteria business, and combined his first and last names to open his own chain of cafeterias. This was at the height of the Depression and when he leased a ‘distressed’ cafeteria at 618 South Olive Street, he erected a Pay What You Wish sign.

Diners were told to pay whatever they thought was fair for food like turkey, meatloaf and potatoes. His modest aim was to make a half cent profit per customer. He also made a point of never turning away anyone who was hungry, even if they had no money. The cafeteria served people of all races and was included in The Green Book, for African American motorists.

In 1935 this remarkable restaurateur opened another Clifton’s, called Clifton’s Brookdale, at 648 South Broadway. At the peak of this establishment’s popularity in the 1940s, 10,000 people a day filed through the doors to enjoy cheap comfort food in an eccentric, woodlands-themed building. There were singing waiters and organ music and girls with large flashbulb cameras roamed both properties to take souvenir pictures of WWII servicemen and women with their loved ones. No check was too small, and a healthy lunch or dinner called a Vita Meal was only 5c and again, offered ’free to those without funds.’

In 1939 the South Olive property was converted to a Pacific Seas theme with waterfalls, volcanic rocks and tropical foliage and many people believe it was a precursor to tiki bars. It closed in 1960. Clifton’s on Broadway with its faux redwood trees, stuffed animals, a waterfall that meandered through the dining room encompassed three floors, included a ballroom and a banquet room, and continued to do well for decades.

In 1946, Clinton passed the business to his children and he and his wife Nelda founded the charity Meals for Millions, to help feed hungry people all over the world. The restaurateur died at the age 83 in 1969.

The landmark venue, known as Clifton’s Brookdale, was sold in 2010 to nightclub operator Andrew Meieran who has faithfully preserved much of the unique charm and old-world style of the original.

The property is now called Clifton’s Republic and offers guests various experiences in the Tree Top dining and cocktail bar, the Gothic Bar, the Brookdale Ballroom, the Monarch Forest Lodge and an events room called Pacific Seas.

Gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson archival inks. Custom printed with border for matting and framing.

Each order includes a print of the interior menu.

All printed in USA.

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