Obscured for nearly half a century under aluminum panels, the battered old facade of Clifton’s Cafeteria is now visible from the sidewalk once again. The Broadway stalwart is currently undergoing a full restoration by developer Andrew Meieran, scheduled to be completed in 2013.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the building at 648 South Broadway was built in 1904. For most of its early years, its bottom floors were occupied by a Boos Brothers Cafeteria, a now-forgotten local chain with several downtown outposts. Clifton’s took over the struggling restaurant space in 1935, and partially rebuilt the building’s original Beaux-Arts façade (pictured here in 1927).
The building’s appearance was dramatically altered in 1963 by a remodeling scheme which covered the upper stories with aluminum panels and installed a new marquee over the rebuilt entrance. Concrete blocks were installed over several windows in 1988 as an earthquake safety measure. Though the bricks will almost certainly be removed in the near future, it remains to be seen if the mid-century marquee will follow suit.
Clifton’s Cafeteria reveals original facade [Los Angeles Times]
Original photo: “whit-m2496 – A view of Clifton’s Cafeteria in Downtown Los Angeles.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/DW-96-109-1-ISLA.