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Clifton's Cafeteria building in downtown for sale

Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times The nearly 47,000-square-foot building — with five stories, plus a basement — that houses kitschy Clifton's Cafeteria is on the market for $4.75 million as its owners, the Clinton family, struggle to keep the cafeteria-style restaurant afloat.

Once part of a successful chain of eight restaurants, the only remaining Clifton's is the last vestige of Old Broadway, and it serves food to match: roast turkey, ham, fried chicken, eerily bright vegetables, Jell-O salads and the like. But it's Clifton's decor that has made it famous: The interior looks like a down-at-the-heels Disney version of a Bavarian forest. Tree murals adorn the walls, a fake brook babbles past a miniature log cabin and an automated raccoon perpetually peeks out from an old barrel at the front entrance.

The Clinton family, who founded the restaurant chain, bought the building in 2006 as a way to shield themselves from the slings and buffets of the economy, but changing tastes and a recession have not been kind.

Donald Clinton — son of the cafeteria’s founder, Clifton Clinton — told The Times in February that business had been down 30% in the previous six months... 

Broker Ed Rosenthal said the ideal buyer would be able to improve the building and restore it to its previous splendor while allowing the cafeteria to continue operating there. But in the meantime, the family, he said, “is hoping to get lucky .... [to] just make some money.”

Click here to read the full story by Cara Mia DiMassa.

-- Elina Shatkin

RELATED:

Clifton's Cafeteria: The place where L.A. finds itself

Photo: Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

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I personally enjoy going to Clifton's, it reminds me of my childhood. However, I agree it does look tired and dark (it needs a lift). My mother bought all B-Day cakes there and as an adult now I especially go for the Deserts, my favorite CUSTARD PIE. I live about an hour away from the restaurant and as much as I wish to visit on a monthly basis, it is difficult to find parking therefore, I usually have to pay for parking, the streets are not safe and you really have to watch out for all those one way streets and cops assigning tickets for every infraction. I hope it continues to provide good food, culture and history during this hard financial times.
Does anyone know a similar receipe for custard pie?

Cliftons is great. The appeal of the restaurant is that it looks old because it is old. Every year I get carrot cake for my birthday and during the year I try to go as often as I can. If this place closes my heart will be broken.

Clifton's is great! The food is honest fare, servings are generous, and the staff and family managers are gems. As for the place looking tired, I disagree. The forest decor is still just as charming and fun as it ever was--you can't exactly polish a redwood tree to a high sheen. The Clinton family played a huge role in cleaning up corrupt city government and feeding the hungry in the depression and beyond, and every Angeleno who cares about our city's history ought to make a visit to explore the historic artifacts on the third floor, try some novelty jello or a turkey dinner, and soak up the atmosphere of an LA institution.

I recently ate at Clifton's Cafeteria for the first time. I am sorry to say that I was disappointed both with the food and the restaurant. The quality of the food was poor, and the restaurant looks tired. It is too bad because it should be a landmark the way Philippes is.


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