The rebirth of Clifton's Cafeteria downtown has been a long time coming. After undergoing a four-year facelift, the iconic restaurant has opened its doors to the public once again. Eater LA is on the scene with all the opening day scoop:
A line about 150 deep stretches down Broadway.
Update: 11:20 a.m.
Some of the first customers through the line. There's lots of photo taking and hugging.
It's crowded inside now, with folks grabbing all they can.
Update: 11:32 a.m.
The first customer got here at 7 a.m. and earned a signed tray.
The upstairs Monarch Bar opens daily when the cafeteria does.
So far, the seating is pretty open on the second floor.
Update: 11:45 a.m.
The pastry kitchen on the 5th floor hard at work.
Update: 11:46 a.m.
It's insanity at the checkout line, mostly because people don't realize there's another HIDDEN checkout line on the other side of the staircase.
All month long, jello is 35 cents, making it a seriously popular item. Not to mention it's been given the gourmet treatment.
Some of the first trays to leave the cafeteria. Despite what you've heard this is still very much the big, sloppy, delicious steam table food you're thinking of. The tray above has fried chicken, stuffing with gravy, mashed potatoes, and soup.
One difference: a fancy touch-screen Coke machine. Bet the old timers wish they had that 60 years ago.
Update: 11:59 a.m.
Chef Fullilove working the hot stations like a pro. A stressed out, in-the-weeds pro.
A classic order: prime rib with mashed potatoes and a stuffing with gravy. Gotta love those trays.
Update: 12:15 p.m.
Almost every plate has jello, which has become the symbol of what Clifton's truly was apparently.
Kudos to the staff here, who are obviously ready to handle the volume that Clifton's will bring. A line nearing 200 people was handled in less than an hour, and the floor is teeming with staff members helping old ladies pick up trays and pour sodas.
The food looks good: the kind of cafeteria fare you'd expect but with a slightly modern touch. This will be a high volume restaurant so don't expect anyone to change the landscape of dining forever just by serving cuts of prime rib. But if you're interested in the nostalgia, or just love food served on a tray, Clifton's is certainly a worthwhile stop. Just be prepared to wait in line.