Big news out of Clifton’s Cafeteria today, as it’s been announced that opening chef Jason Fullilove will depart the Downtown mega-concept, effective immediately.
One of a handful of big-name hires brought on to anchor the multi-story eatery upon its return after a lengthy hiatus, Fullilove’s swift departure comes as quite the surprise. So far, no replacement has been named.
For what it’s worth, the Clifton’s folks are calling Fullilove’s time there nothing more than a planned consultancy, though it’s hard to imagine such a high volume space — they’ve been reportedly serving thousands of diners a day, outside of their massively crushed opening party — would be keen to lose a key team member right at the outset. Eater reached out to Fullilove directly, but he has yet to give his side of things.
Ultimately, the pairing of Fullilove (who previously worked in medium-to-high volume kitchens doing more refined cooking at LACMA's Ray's & Stark Bar and Malibu Pier) and Clifton’s, which is cafeteria food served many thousands of times over, simply may not have ended up being a good match for either. Yelpers have also been hammering the place since it opened, to the tune of a 2.5 star rating with nearly 250 reviews, complaining of everything from prices and portion sizes to the quality of the food and drink, so it’s possible that the transition away from their opening executive chef became more urgent to the Clifton’s team as time wore on.
What’s next for Fullilove is anyone’s guess, but there’s no denying the man can cook, so he'll end up somewhere soon. As for Clifton’s, they’re on the hunt for a big new name to anchor the dining room — without somehow also pissing off the locals.