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Clifton's Cafeteria Historic Menus and Pamphlets Give Glimpse of the Past

The cover of a menu or souvenir pamphlet from Clifton's Cafeteria circa 1940.
The cover of a menu or souvenir pamphlet from Clifton's Cafeteria circa 1940.
LAPL.org

Exploring the LAPL menu collection is an ongoing project in which we'll take a close look at the menus owned by the Los Angeles Public Library. Read about the project here.

On Friday, Collectors Weekly published a long and fascinating article about Clifton's Cafeteria. The piece covers the history of Clifton's, as well as giving an update on the overhaul and restoration of Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria by developer Andrew Meieran. Among other things, it tells the story of original owner Clifford Clifton's dedication to feeding people who couldn't afford to eat, the sprawling dramatic fantasy restaurant he built (with a stream running through it!), and his fight against corruption that resulted in his house being bombed.

The article also has a number of photos and renderings of the interior of Clifton's Brookdale during its heyday, complete a dining room populated by giant redwood trees. It got us wondering if there were many menus from Clifton's housed in the Los Angeles Public Library's menu collection.

See also: My Mother Was the Mistress of the Owner of Clifton's Cafeteria

As it turns out, the LAPL has quite a few pieces of Clifton's ephemera, dating back to the 1930s. There's an amazing document that reads almost like a legal contract, which explains all of Clifton's policies and procedures. It's dated November 1937, and covers everything from the ambitious social aims of the restaurant to its "assets and liabilities."  We've posted the first page below, but you can read the entire thing here on the LAPL website. It's worth reading, and offers help with everything from a bad meal to what Clifton's might do to help if a customer is sick or lonely. 

There's the cover of a keepsake from Clifton's from the '40s (above), a Clifton's pamphlet with recipes from the '80s, and a special menu from Clifton's Brookdale from the '90s. Enjoy.

The first page of an informational package about Clifton's, 1937.
The first page of an informational package about Clifton's, 1937.
LAPL.org
Some recipes from a Clifton's pamphlet, circa 1980
Some recipes from a Clifton's pamphlet, circa 1980
LAPL.org
Super discount menu from Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria, 1994
Super discount menu from Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria, 1994
LAPL.org

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