Historic gem, Clifton’s Cafeteria is located on Broadway between 7th and 8th streets in the Historic Core of Downtown LA since the 1930s. Dormant for years, the iconic establishment is about to crack open its re-furbished doors after years of construction and palpable anticipation.
Following four years of detailed remodeling and months of intricate interior and exterior design by acclaimed Londubh Studio, the cafeteria-style eatery has reached completion. Clifton’s invites Angelenos to take a trip back in time and dine on savory dishes while relishing in the surrounding iconic decor, antique photographs, and decades worth of memories.
Londubh Studio owners, Brynn Gelbard and Lisa Donohoe, were originally selected for the re-model last summer after a painting contractor recommended them to Clifton’s Cafeteria current owner, Andrew Meieran.
“We never imagined at the time Londubh Studio would get to leave a mark, much less the facade. It’s an artist’s dream to be offered a opportunity like this. Another painting contractor working on the project contacted us, and our friend who’d worked with Andrew on his film put in a good word for us — that we absolutely love challenges like this,” Gelbard said.
Known for their imaginative interior design, Gelbard and Donohoe had the chance to restore the exterior five-story façade, as well as the structure’s intricate interior. Working hand-in-hand with Meieran, the design duo said the creative process consisted of extracting Meieran’s uniquely specific visions and turning them into a reality.
“All of these things generated stories in our heads and Clifton’s had plenty of stories. Jerry Lieber had worked there as a busboy and was inspired to write songs such as ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock,'” Gelbard and Donohoe said. “We decorated the interior beams with some of the lyrics from these in his honor.”
For the façade, the design team custom tinted an expansive and unique color pallet to blend together the new and the old. Infusing the various paint shades with hand tinted hues, Gelbard and Donohoe then applied different semi –transparent glazes to make the new exterior areas appear rustic and beautifully weathered to oblige 80 years of Broadway aging.
For the interior, Gelbard and Donohoe worked on the fourth floor in the Tree Top, using textured paint applied to plywood boxes to create old redwood beams that run along the ceiling at the top of a three-story tree. (Yes, there is an actual three-story in the building).
“Keeping in mind Clifton’s founder, Clifford Clinton’s love of California, trees and nature, a quote from John Muir was also used and a repeated painted decorative trim element from Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel was applied to all the beams,” Gelbard and Donohoe said.
Clifton’s is slated to open to the public sometime this week at 648 S. Broadway and promises to be yet another compelling attraction for the Downtown neighborhood.
Follow the creative minds behind the design, Brynn Gelbard and Lisa Donohoe of Londubh Studio.