1,000 Conservancy Buffs Descend on Clifton’s, Public Opening Delayed

That’s a lot of bowler hats for one room

Last night the L.A. Conservancy threw a massive benefit bash at the not-yet-actually-open Clifton’s Cafeteria. A thousand people descended on the historic restaurant to celebrate its impending opening (more on that later), most of whom had limited access to the first two floors, while a couple hundred VIPs were allowed to peep the third and unfinished fourth floors. Experts in Clifton’s lore wandered around with buttons that read “Ask Me!” Others were armed with tablets displaying vintage Clifton’s photos.

Beverage Director Damian Windsor manned the second-floor Monarch Bar, which was mixing very decent Moscow Mules and, of course, Old Fashioneds. The tray line snaked throughout the ground level, where passed hors d’oeuvres, coupes of champagne, and a full brass band eased the wait. The latter also inspired a spontaneous swing dance display. Oh, you sassy history hounds!

Once inside the cafeteria, chef Jason Fullilove passed out tiny patty melts and ramekins of collard greens, while the carving station sliced smoked turkey and briscuit to order. Of course there was plenty of Jell-O and white cake, too. We’ll reserve judgment on the cafeteria grub as a whole until we find out how much that spread would have cost us (food was included in the ticket price.) We will say that everyone seemed to be having a swell time and we spied plenty of clean plates.

The space was supposed to open to the public today, but the Clifton’s clan has pushed the date yet again to sometime later this week, or possibly even next. (Stay tuned as the story develops.) We’ve heard rumblings of a mechanical issue, and perhaps it’s the same reason the lights went out twice during last night’s shindig. Nobody seemed to mind the black outs—it was a party, after all—but we can’t help but wonder if the ghost of Clifford Clinton has something to say about the new digs.