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Downtown Awaits Clifton's Cafeteria Revival as Bright Neon Signs Light Up

The long-gone restaurant is being eagerly anticipated for its upcoming return.

Farley Elliott
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Los Angeles is now three years removed from one of the last big unveilings at Clifton’s Cafeteria, the hidden facade that used to grace the long-hidden front. Since then: basically nothing… until last week. That’s when the signage for Clifton’s 2.0 went live, lighting up the street just in time for downtown’s Bringing Back Broadway street event.

The revamped neon is in full view now, though the rest of Clifton’s continues to be as patched up as always. The wording ‘LIVING HISTORY’ and ‘ESTABLISHED 1932’ are a particular key into the long-locked facility, showing hopeful downtowners that not only is the re-arrival of Clifton’s pretty imminent, but that the past certainly hasn’t been drained from the place.


[Photo: Alison Martino/Instagram]

Over at LA Mag, restaurant archiver Alison Martino (who Eater talked to about L.A.'s long-lost Villa Nova restaurant last week) caught a late night look of the sign in fully glowing glory, adding that she was allowed into the building’s lower floors back in 2013 and the iconic woodsy interior is not only still in place, it’s being heavily restored. By the look of things today there’s still not much action on the upper floors though; as the photo shows, they’re mostly still papered over, and in the spots where they aren’t it doesn’t seem that there’s any action at all.

All that said, the bottom floor all day eatery first envisioned when Clifton’s went under the knife years ago seems to be coming along nicely. All things considered, Downtown may see the (partial) rise of Clifton’s from the ashes by year's end.

Clifton's Republic

648 South Broadway, , CA 90014 (213) 627-1673 Visit Website