‘Chinatown’ Screening at Clifton’s Cafeteria


Dick Whittington Photography Collection, USC Libraries

Earlier this month, the historical façade of downtown’s iconic Clifton’s Cafeteria was revealed for the first time since the early 1960s. For decades, the beaux-arts façade was hidden behind a wall of aluminum grates. On Feb. 7, Clifton’s new owner Andrew Meieran—a director-producer-developer also responsible for revamping the gorgeous subterranean bar The Edison—removed the grates to reveal the original 1904 design as a first step in the process of renovating the building. Meieran bought the cafeteria from the Clinton family, Clifton’s original owners, in 2010.


Ed Fuentes / KCET

Clifton’s Broadway cafeteria—the last standing restaurant in a chain of ten—has been closed for renovations since September. But last night, Clifton’s opened for a special screening of Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic Chinatown hosted by artist/filmmaker collective The Masses. The event was free and no reservations were required. (Though you could reserve a table if you wanted, as a few couples did for what was probably the best date ever.) They had wine and beer and cupcakes and some sandwiches. Before the screening, KPFK/Cinespia/dublab DJ Carlos Niño played some records and multi-instrumentalist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson reinterpreted Jerry Goldsmith’s score in a short solo performance.


Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

I took some Instagram photos, but the camera on my 3GS is pretty worthless, so they’re not really worth posting. Just imagine the above photo, but with a giant screen on the forest wall, a DJ hanging out in the elevated corner booth by the taxidermy moose head, and replace the tables with a bunch of insanely comfortable leather couches and rustic wood slab coffee tables. Very classy and a lot of fun. Also, the chocolate cupcakes were delicious. I love L.A. for having events like this. Last night was supposed to be the first of many Clifton’s screenings, so hopefully there will be another one soon because somehow, despite the L.A. Times‘ preview, very few people knew this was even happening.

(For more background info on Clifton’s and the remodeling, check out the L.A. Conservancy’s advocacy page and KCET’s excellent photo feature on the cafeteria through the decades.