If you were to search for a cinematic equivalent to the anticipation that's built up among LA's history and dining fans over the multi-year renovations at downtown's fabled Clifton's Cafeteria, you'd of course have to land on 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Bear with us here.
Visualize a beautiful, fantasy-laden, but ultimately unreachable building where magical things are afoot. How exactly those magical things will play out remains to be seen, but like kids staring through the gates at Mr. Wonka's factory, Clifton's buffs have been keeping the Broadway landmark's exterior under watch since 2011, when it shuttered for one major spiffy up.
That major spiffy up -- aka full-scale rehaul by new owner Andrew Meieran -- looks to finally be coming to an end, effectively ending the mystery of what opened-in-1935, woodland-themed, three-story cafeteria will look like in its new clothes.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Bartenders, prep cooks, and a host of positions are currently being filled. And as anyone in the restaurant industry knows, this is a positive sign of the front doors being unlocked, if not imminently, then something adjacent to imminently.
And however the venerable restaurant looks inside -- and the updates haven't been that secret, what with reports of various design elements coming down the pike, as well as that forever-burning neon -- here's the very nicest reveal of all in this multi-year saga: Clifton's Cafeteria is committed to hiring "a percentage of staff from downtown social organizations such as The Midnight Mission, Homeboy Industries, and many more."
The job fair took place at The Edison, which is also owned by Mr. Meieran.
Perhaps, then, there is no movie equivalent of a beloved restaurant that remains closed for a number of years, then receives a complete but considered refurbishment, then seeks to staff positions in a way that connects on an important and lovely level with its neighborhood.
But the movies may be too late to capitalize on this one. This particular story has now played out in real life, downtown, with the culinary climax still to come: The grand opening.
Need to know more, Clifton's followers? Keep abreast.