Friday, February 12, 2016

Clifton's Cafeteria

The Pink Collar Life has an affinity with Clifton's Cafeteria and their quest in the restoration, yet preservation, of the historic place and keeping Downtown Los Angeles nostalgia alive and well. New owner, Andrew Meiren, has spent 5 years and $10 million bringing Clifton's back to life, without straying from it's strong and humble roots. Similar to The Pink Collar Life, it's evident that Clifton's love for history and heritage remains strong, and the establishment has gone through lengths to keep its authenticity, sticking to the Clifton's "Golden Rule" and keeping to The Golden Age aesthetic with its campy and cheery Californian theme. Whimsical with waterfalls, yet fancy with fireplaces and ferns, Clifton's is unlike any dining experience you've had - guaranteed. From Hollywood to Redwood, trees & taxidermy, and Sierras & stuffed peacocks, you're completely transported into another era and dimension of deco dreams.

NYE by Jason Kamimura. Wearing our "Betty's Boa" in blonde.
We recently had the pleasure to attend Clifton's NYE extravaganza, with grand hostess Dita Von Teese, along with LA Weekly & Dapper Day, and can attest to the decades of decadence that you feel in its atmosphere. Clifton's brought Old Hollywood back to life, with their especially impressive drink menu, boasting cocktails such as the "Hedy Lamarr," as well as the "Greta Garbo" and of course, the "Jean Harlow." The champagne toast at midnight was over-the-top and opulent, as Dita Von Teese performed her martini glass routine at the bottom of the tree.

Us girls, at the Clifton's NYE extravaganza with friend and designer Allison of Emerald & Palm

The pink collar girls and platinum parade on LA Weekly: Nina Palomba & Miss Tosh.Wearing our Hedy's Halo & Factor's Follies crown, perfect for the occasion

The story began with Clifford Clifton, who was born in 1900, among 9 brothers and sisters. In 1910 when Clifford was just a child, he and his family traveled to China with the Salvation Army to feed the hungry. It was years later when his father Edmond, opened his first cafeteria style restaurant in San Francisco, which was called simply: "Clifton's." After the Great Depression hit, he sold the establishments and packed up, heading to the big, booming, city of Los Angeles. With his restaurant manual in hand, which included being the "cafeteria of the golden rule," he opened his first Clifton's restaurant in 1931, and the 40,000 square foot Broadway location a couple years later, in 1934-1935. 

This Clifton's, on Broadway, opened officially in 1935 and was called at the time, "the world's largest" cafeteria, as it was serving 15,000 people a day at its peak. It attracted working class from downtown LA, as well as the big wigs in Hollywood, like Walt Disney and Ray Bradbury. It's no surprise Walt loved this place, as it is filled with theatrical, elaborate, and exotic, decor similar to that of Disney's vision.

Clifton's was unique, with their ability to provide food, even if the customer could not pay, though blue collar, white collar, or pink collar, everybody loved Clifton's, as the company was the first employer in LA to offer health and dental insurance to its employees. His customers referred to his place as "The Cafeteria of the Golden Rule," meaning patrons were obliged to pay only what they felt was fair, with a welcoming neon sign that flashed: "PAY WHAT YOU WISH," in the window, with a "dine free unless delighted" ethos.

Today, though renovations have taken place since opening, certain elements of the original are incorporated in with a fun flair, reminiscent of the past. For example, the old cafeteria tray designs were used as models, when designing the new ones, making diner's experience all the more nostalgic. The faux redwood tree took one year to build, and is quite the centerpiece of the restaurant, going through all five levels! Other new features include the owner's own collection of taxidermy on display throughout Clifton's, including a full size bison, lions, and antelopes, indeed living up to its name of "Cabinet of Curiosities." We're also happy to say that this luminous Landmark is adding a Tiki Bar to its treetops, with a reopening of the old "Pacific Seas," which was their Polynesian styled bar, playing on tropical escapism.

The "new" trays.

Aside from extravagant evenings mentioned above, don't fret, as Clifton's is perfect for any casual day or occasion..

Clifton's is nestled right in the heart of Art Deco LA, and the Palace Theater (painted in pink) Wearing our Black Dahlia turban design. This insect fit right in with the Clifton's theme!
In one of the various secret passageways. By Tom Stratton 

At the Gothic style bar, with these amazing Art Deco chairs, with spiderweb design. By Tom Stratton 

By Tom Stratton 

By Tom Stratton 

By Tom Stratton 

In the same vicinity of Clifton's is many other great original spots, full of nostalgia. Less than 2 miles away, is LA's iconic China town...

Stuck in the 1940's time warp from Clifton's after a great meal, we ventured off into Chinatown. Alongside my Black Dahlia velvet turban, outfit details include one of my favorite late 1940's velvet heels, with sparkle crescent moon details, and ankle ties. My purse is a 1940's corde purse with lucite handle, which were advertised in the 1940's as "the longest wearing of all the handbag fabrics" during WWII. To keep a dark 40's look, even in the hot weather, I wore a black scarf wrap top, with a vintage cotton full skirt with sparkle details.

Each weekend, Clifton’s is transforming into a fully immersive entertainment experience on selected evenings, animating and metamorphosing the 47,000 sq ft space into a world of adventure, imagination and magic. "We pride ourselves on variety and unique entertainment, and thus far have had anything and everything from swing bands and dancing, to puppeteers, jazz bands and burlesque."

Clifton's is an absolute must see experience for anyone and everyone, and we highly recommend this Cabinet of Curiosities for anything from a casual lunch and lounge to an evening of glamour and grandeur! Follow Clifton's for updates on upcoming entertainment and all around nostalgia.

<3 T & A   

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