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Clifton's Brookdale, Los Angeles, CA (restaurant)

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Name: Clifton's Brookdale
Type: restaurant
Street: 648 South Broadway
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip: 90014
country: USA
Phone: 213.627.1673
Status: operational

Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria, Downtown Los Angeles

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Updated name and status. - 2011-09-06 16:35 ]


Oh. My. God.


Clifton's had/has a few locations and some of them are still open. The Pacific Seas is the tropical one that is no longer. Clifton's "Brookdale" is still around and although it is not tiki at all, I highly recommend checking it out. You won't believe your eyes!!
648 South Broadway, Los Angeles, California 90014
Telephone: 213.627.1673

Open 7 days a week - 6:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

http://www.cliftonscafeteria.com/pages/brookdale_photos.html The pictures don't do it justice.


I heartily second that. It's worth braving downtown LA for (and you get to see some amazing old architecture along the way, too, including the numerous sad-but-lovely decaying movie palaces.) Clifton's is one of my favorite places on earth. It's magical...don't miss it!


A lot of the old and dying buildings are being converted to lofts, and condos. you should check it out you are in for a surprize.


Clifton's has been sold to a new owner and they are planning on adding a tiki bar



Hopefully they will retain the "forest" decor of the lower levels. The 3rd-level has a vague regency-style, my guess is that's where the Tiki bar will be. If they have to do this, I hope it's a homage to the Pacific Seas location.

I knew the business was struggling, it's better this than have the place disappear altogether. The renovation to Cole's was pretty tasteful but I miss its former dumpy historic charm and the loss of the back room. We did gain Varnish however. I suspect the new Clifton's will be along the same lines.

If anyone wants to experience Clifton's before its eventual closing (before the renovation), I'm planning a TC group lunch there on Oct 16th...



"Clifton's sold, will go more hipster"

Great...Tiki Bars are considered "hipster"...just what we need...

While that probably works great up in San Francisco (San Francisco (Nor-Cal hipsters are less...."Hollywood") , LA hipsters are the worst kind.

Well, hopefully most of us middle-aged hawaiian shirt wearing geeks will help keep the Ed Hardy douchebag element away.


I love tiki as much as the next person but I say NO to the tiki bar.
As far as I am concerned Clifton's needs to remain Clifton's.
As much as it kills me to say it- If it can't remain Clifton's then it needs to close.

My family has been going there forever. I never miss it when I am in CA.
It's The only place where you can sit and eat your mac n cheese next to a 90 year old white lady with pearls and gloves on on one side of you and a hobo with a trash bag for a purse on the other side. I remember getting all dolled up when I was a tiny girl and going shopping downtown with my grandma to Bullocks for her hats. Then to Mandels for shoes and off to Cliftons for a wonderful lunch. Such good memories.

I never trust these hipsters who buy landmarks.
If they were to buy it out and just close up Clifton's and make a niteclub there would be strong opposition. But if they buy it and say they will keep Clifton's and add a new venue upstairs to me it just means they will just keep Clifton's open for a year or two and then say it is losing too much money and will have to close. It is just a slow death for Clifton's. If it stays open I will be very suprised.....


I never trust these hipsters who buy landmarks.

I hear that loud and clear. Thankfully I made it to Clifton's twice on my last few visits to LA. Once of my good friends is married to someone who was born and raised there and she had never visited Clifton's, so I was glad to be a non-resident of Los Angeles taking them there for their first visit. As far as how cool that place is goes beyond words. That little 'chapel' or should I say 'worship booth' on the second floor was beyond amazing.

When I was there I thought "they used to have stuff like this in New York, but no more. LA is way ahead of the game in pop-cultural preservation". Then I thought that sometime in the future I might eat those words, but there was still a chance that LA would come out the hero in preservation of this nature. I guess I was wrong. All I can say is the same thing I say when places like this go away: 'glad I was there when it was, really what it was'.


Guys, give the place a chance. If all Andrew Meieran wanted to do was open a "hipster" place, believe me there are cheaper locations in downtown to start from scratch. Why pay for a place that has Clifton's brand just to gut its unique history and decor?

I like the idea of an upstairs bar, it would be cool to hang out at Clifton's late into the night. I'm willing to sacrifice the 3rd-level if that's what will save the place. Plus would a Poly-Pop homage to Clifton's South Seas (which I'm assuming is what they mean by "Tiki") be such a horrible thing?

What's happening in Downtown is really exciting, especially when a historic thoroughfare like Broadway is inching back to it's 1930's glory. Yes sometimes the crowd can get too "Hollywood" or USC Fraternity Row but for the most part most of the new nightlife (other than LA Live) is leveraging on downtown's historic character rather than destroying it.

Not every situation is going to be a Beverly Hills Trader Vic's. Again even though I miss the dumpy charm of the old Coles PE Buffet, I think they did a pretty good job of injecting new life into the place while retaining its history. Plus have you tasted the cocktails at Varnish (located inside Cole's)? It's top notch mixology.

I remain optimistic and look forward to the "new" Clifton's. :)


A little more encouraging news in this LA Times article ....

"Andrew respects the Clifford Clinton legacy that is very much a part of this business and he wants to respect our principles."

"It will fully be Clifton's as people know it," (Andrew) Meieran said. "What it's historically been will continue."

"Clifton's is designed around comfort food. That's where its strengths lie," he said. "I have no intention of changing that."

Meieran also plans to remove the metal facade attached to the front of the building in the 1960s and restore the former concrete-and-stucco exterior.


Aside from the amazing themed decor, another great thing about Clifton's Brookdale is the "museum" on the third floor as well as all of the historical photos on the walls scattered throughout the place. I wonder what's going to happen to all that? It's like a giant Clifton's scrapbook. I would think that the new owner wouldn't be getting that stuff as he's not part of the Clifton family.

Here comes $20 for a mac and cheese. Now that's F*cked up, Y'all!


I got an email saying that Clifton's is hosting an art exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of Twin Peaks tomorrow (Feb. 12)...

but this was the part that really caught my eye: "With a Special Sneak Peek of the Renovation of Clifton's"



I was there earlier today and saw that the 3rd-floor was roped off. I wondered if the "Tiki bar" construction had started so I stealthily slipped under the velvet rope with camera in hand. Instead of encountering the embryonic stages of Clifton's Pacific Seas Pt. 2 (I'm keeping my fingers crossed), I walked in on what looked to be a Quinceañera (!!). Gotta love Clifton's, they adapt to the times whether it's serving depression-era diners (who pay only what they can afford), the current Latino clientele, or the loft-dwelling hipster newcomers.

Also it's always fun to see little brown children flip out in amazement to the kitschy wilderness decor the same way their WASP predecessors probably did decades earlier. :)

FYI the Regency-style 3rd-floor is still intact, if you want to experience that before the remodel, GO NOW.

Man oh man, is the neighborhood slowly changing. In addition to a microbrewery that I saw under construction, there's now a pilates studio (!!) in surreal coexistence with the street's Mexico City bazaar atmosphere. :o

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2011-02-13 20:38 ]

I found all these photos of Clifton's in the Los Angeles Public Library archives.

On 2011-02-12 17:38, JOHN-O wrote:
I was there earlier today and saw that the 3rd-floor was roped off. I wondered if the "Tiki bar" construction had started so I stealthily slipped under the velvet rope with camera in hand. Instead of encountering the embryonic stages of Clifton's Pacific Seas Pt. 2 (I'm keeping my fingers crossed), I walked in on what looked to be a Quinceañera (!!). Gotta love Clifton's, they adapt to the times whether it's serving depression-era diners (who pay only what they can afford), the current Latino clientele, or the loft-dwelling hipster newcomers.

Good scouting.


Here's a belated thank you to abstractiki for those great vintage pics !!

It's a very timely post given the coming changes at Cliftons. We now have more historic content to compare the 3rd-level Poly-Pop remodel against. I hope it's a faithful Pre-Tiki recreation. I'll be pissed if they actually put Tikis up there. :evil: NO TIKIs !! I wanna be in the 1930's, not the late 1950's.

Man, were those the days (!!) when people dressed up to eat in a cafeteria. :)

My Mom said she used to go to Clifton's as a kid back in the 40's. All the Aunts and cousins used to drive up from Orange County for special occasions like birthdays. (there wasn't much in Corona Del Mar back in those days - they used to have to go to downtown Santa Ana to go to department stores like Buffums)

In the LA Times today:

Clifton's cafeteria, downtown Los Angeles' shrine to kitsch and comfort food, will be closing Mondays and Tuesdays over the summer as part of a deliberately slow-footed, phased renovation.

Developer and nightclub operator Andrew Meieran said he is repairing the Depression-origin eatery piecemeal to avoid a long closure that would throw employees out of work.

The staff of 69 includes many longtime workers, including the manager, who has been with Clifton's for 48 years, Meieran said.

Meieran, who also co-founded the hip Edison lounge downtown, took control of the four-story restaurant building at Broadway and 7th Street last September from the Clinton family, which founded the restaurant in 1931.

The chefs also have begun updating the menu, with fresh instead of frozen produce, organic vegetables when possible and real butter, he added.

In a back-to-the-future twist, the chefs are returning to original 1950s-era recipes -- which they unearthed from moldering files -- for standby dishes such as beef stroganoff and chicken parmesan.

"They love it," Meieran said of the employees. "The business had been down so long they learned to cut corners. Now they're excited by their ability to go back to the basics."
Meieran said he will be extending the sylvan theme of the main dining room, which includes a 20-foot waterfall and fake redwood trees, by building a giant Sequoia on the little-used upper banquet floor.

New cocktail lounges and another restaurant also are planned for the upper level, some of which will open by the end of the year, he said.

JOHN-O posted on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 4:05 PM

There's some relevant Brookdale location content in this post.

Also I would suggest posting any vintage Pacific Seas location content in that specifc thread, rather than in this one. They were two separate locations after all.

Also Moderator can you change the status of the Brookdale location to operational and include the address: 648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles? I suspect we'll see a lot more activity here once the upstairs "Tiki bar" is completed.

Let's keep "Locating Tiki" organized. :)

Wow, that was a fast change by the moderators. Thanks, I agree with John O, it is nice to keep thing organized on Locating Tiki.

Went to Cliftons with Swanky and Big Bro for lunch a few weeks ago, can't wait to see the upstairs transformation.

Here is a modern postcard I picked up on my visit.

Living History indeed.


JOHN-O posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 8:27 AM

On 2011-03-14 14:09, JOHN-O wrote:

...I hope it's a faithful Pre-Tiki recreation. I'll be pissed if they actually put Tikis up there. :evil: NO TIKIs !! I wanna be in the 1930's, not the late 1950's.

Actually I can forgive any Tikis as long as I can get one neon palm tree out of this. :)

I fear however that might be a lost art. :(

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2011-09-07 14:15 ]


On 2011-09-10 11:41, Chuck Tatum is Tiki wrote (in the wrong thread :)):

Does anyone have an update to the new Tiki upgrade of Clifton's ?

Here's an update. Let's take a peek on the 3rd-level and see what the status is...

Well it looks like... Absolutely nothing has been done yet !! The regency-style (at least that's what I consider it) decor is still intact...

I asked several employees when the work on the new "Tiki bar" and other lounges on the upper level was supposed to begin. I got the reply "We've been wondering the same thing".

Oh well, in anticipation of that work let me continue with documentation of what may soon be gone...

There's a lot of cool historical memorabilia up there. Including this photo of what the original outer facade looked like...

Here's something that was saved from the long-gone Pacific Seas location. I hope it has a place of prominence in the new "Tiki bar"...

I actually noticed the following for the first time so I'll include it here. Is anyone familiar with the displayed dagger behind the bar at the Sunset Beach Don the Beachcomber? My understanding it was stolen from its original location (Waikiki?) by a disgruntled employee back in the 1950's. It was later returned several decades later by the "thief's" children to Art Snyder.

Here's a similar story. It's a teapot stolen from Clifton's in the 1940's which was returned 67 years later !!

Thanks John-O !


Maybe the Brookdale location is kinda "Beyond", but just for kicks, here are some pics, from 2004.

Looking back through the neato front facade


The LA Times business section has an article today about Clifton's closing on September 26 for a remodel. Here is a piece of the story:

Although the cafeteria will be closed Sept. 26, Meieran plans to open an artisanal bakery in the front of the building shortly. Holden Burkons, the former pastry sous chef at Craft restaurant in Century City, will bake bread, pies and other desserts for retail and wholesale customers.

After the cafeteria reopens, Meieran plans to launch niche night-life businesses inside the building. Among his plans are a small, tiki-themed bar in the basement and a third-floor speakeasy reached via a hidden entrance on the main floor.

Sounds like the Tiki bar is going to be in the basement and not the third floor.




They have it all backwards. Shouldn't the speakeasy be in the basement ??

Anyway it doesn't look like they'll have a lot of space for the "Tiki bar". So much for the grand homage to Clifton's Pacific Seas I think. :(

Oh well, at least I hope the remodel is faithful to the historic 1930's decor.

So who's doing the Tiki Bar??


On 2011-10-05 19:39, RevBambooBen wrote:
So who's doing the Tiki Bar??

You? Okay, spill the beans...

On 2011-10-05 19:47, Hakalugi wrote:

On 2011-10-05 19:39, RevBambooBen wrote:
So who's doing the Tiki Bar??

You? Okay, spill the beans...

No beans for me Haka.

I wish I was doing it.

If anyone here knows them

put in a good word for me :)

TNT posted on Wed, Feb 8, 2012 3:31 PM

Just read this little article. Not really any new info, but the pic of the newly revealed original exterior is there. http://laist.com/2012/02/08/history_revealed_cliftons_cafeteria.php

[ Edited by: TNT 2012-02-08 15:38 ]

Well, it's not exactly the "Pacific Seas"... :D But it's still cool, I am looking forward to a new "woodsy" exterior.

Here is some more info, including re the Pre-Tiki Lounge:


JOHN-O posted on Wed, Feb 8, 2012 4:24 PM

It looks like Andrew Meieran "gets it". :)

I reached out to the events manager for Edison/Clifton's. I'm trying to get us all in there early when the space is completed. Maybe a soft launch.

It's still at least a year away.

Meieran expects to complete the roughly 3,000-square-foot tiki space in about a year, if all goes as planned. “The concept is not to be kitschy,” he adds. “It’s the real Twenties and Thirties version of tiki, the beautiful golden era of travel, going back to the Cocoanut Grove. It’s taking it to the next level, where it’s this romanticized vision.”

Lot's of Rattan and Birdcages!!

Should be good!!!

Trad'r Sam-ish ???

p.s. this is way pre-tiki design so I'm guessing they are only using the word tiki to get hits?

Another story on Cliftons on the cover of today's LA Times local section.


Some nice photos in the article.

The "Treetops" Tiki bar?


p.s. maybe they'll use Moby's stuff...

Yeah well, I don't think Meieran is "in the zone" of understanding the history and evolution of Polynesian pop the way we are here. All this "..not kitschy, but romanticized, lifting it to the next level..." is a jumble of flawed logic that shows that either he or the journalist are just throwing buzzwords out there. I think he is just reacting to the fact that nowadays everything tropical gets lumped together as "Tiki". That's a healthy reaction, I am not happy about that either. Let's hope "Treetops" is not the actual name, but just the concept.

rupe33 posted on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 9:24 AM

Try this link for the article on the original facade from Feb 2012 -- and be sure to check out the sidebar for various photos!

They brought stuffed bison into the remodeled location. They also found some neon that was covered up and still on and a grotto under a staircase.
Their website is updated occasionally with the renovations. It's still supposed to reopen this year.
"The Pacific Seas, a Polynesian themed Tiki bar will open in honor of the original Clifton's Pacific Seas that originally stood on Olive Street."



[ Edited by: tikilongbeach 2013-02-19 08:34 ]

Big price tag to match big dreams. I can't wait to lunch there after hitting the flower mart.

From the LA Times:

The gig: Real estate developer and moviemaker Andrew Meieran, 46, is staking his reputation and millions of dollars on an attempt to revive one of the most beloved restaurants in Los Angeles history — Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway.

Known for its Disney-like forest theme, Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria served an estimated 170 million meals starting in 1935 but lost traction in recent decades as the city's historic core fell out of favor.

Meieran took it over in 2010 and closed it the following year to begin its renovation.

As longtime fans of the cafeteria wait, Meieran is laboring on a $5-million makeover that he hopes will make Clifton's an elaborate dining and drinking establishment unlike any other in the city and bring back crowds.

The vision: Plans call for Clifton's to have multiple bars and restaurants in markedly divergent styles throughout the four-story building. Each is to be crafted with the sophisticated attention to detail that Meieran brought to the nearby Edison, the Jules Verne-like subterranean nightclub he created deep under a century-old building on 2nd Street.

How to stand out: A memorable bar or restaurant must stay intriguing even on repeat visits, he said. "If you come back, I want you to notice more," Meieran said. "If we don't get the details right, we have a huge potential to miss the mark with our audience."

Comfort food: Meieran aims to restore and improve the forest-themed dining hall that generations of Angelenos associate with Clifton's and continue to serve such traditional cafeteria comfort food as pot roast, mashed potatoes and Jell-O.

Defined spaces: There will be distinct venues throughout the building, much of it rarely visited by the public in years past. The basement will house a bar full of historic local relics intended to transport visitors back in time. The ground floor and mezzanine-like second floor will remain a forest-themed cafeteria, with added details such as an old-fashioned soda fountain.

The third floor, which most recently held Gay '90s-themed banquet rooms, is being turned into a sit-down restaurant with classic food, Meieran said, but "not fine dining." It will also house a museum that he would not describe other than to call it "a cabinet of curiosities."

The fourth floor — Clifton's old offices — will get a Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar called South Seas, named after a Clifton's cafeteria on Olive Street that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

Also on that floor will be a second historic-themed bar and restaurant, this one Art Deco style. It's intended to be an upscale yet casual joint where diners can get a steak or chili.

Speed bumps: Renovation of the building, which opened in 1915 as a Boos Brothers cafeteria, has been far more costly and time-consuming than anticipated. At first, Meieran hoped to keep Clifton's open during construction. Then he closed it in fall 2011 for what he hoped would be a 5-million rehabilitation lasting three to six months.

Now he aims to finally reopen by Halloween, and even then some of the venues won't be complete. He's trying to keep the final tab under $5 million.

"Everything takes longer and costs four times more than you expect," he said. "What can go wrong will go wrong. My feeling is that there is just so much incredible potential in this project that it would be a disservice to not do it right."

Early years: Meieran was born and raised in the Bay Area and educated at UC Berkeley. As a young developer he bought a former Roman Catholic church in San Francisco and turned it into a live-work space.

In 1988 church leaders asked him to evaluate the real estate potential of St. Vibiana's, a Los Angeles landmark dating to the 1870s.

Meieran stayed in L.A. to help rehabilitate the adjacent abandoned Higgins Building office tower into housing and created the Edison in its basement.

Domestic front: Meieran and his wife, Christy, renovated and live in Charlie Chaplin's former home in the Hollywood Hills. They have two daughters, Amelie and Natasha.

Hollywood connection: Meieran produced and directed the upcoming "Highland Park," which stars Parker Posey and Danny Glover. Scheduled for release March 20, the movie, set in Detroit, is about the revitalization of a neighborhood.

Like Clifton's, he said, the movie "reflects my philosophy about taking responsibility and doing what you can personally to inspire pride and hope in one's community."


So the latest word is that Clifton's is going to incorporate the interior from the Bahooka. Any news on this?

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2013-06-05 08:41 ]

I saw an opening date of March first.
Any news anyone?

This lengthy and informative article from Collectors Weekly dated February 13th, 2014 says it will open in some form in 6 months.


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