A Love Letter to the Cafeterias of Old Los Angeles On Demand Webinar

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Southern California has long been where innovation happens, especially in the kitchen. For our Christmas weekend webinar, we’re taking a long and loving look back at the cafeterias that once dotted the Southland, from legendary venues like Clifton’s, Schaber’s and Boos Brothers to quirky gems like Finney’s (formerly the Dutch Chocolate Shop), Beadle’s, Mission and Ontra (pronounced en-TRAY).

Offering wholesome home cooking that a customer could see before paying, and a wider variety of vegetables and salads than many Midwestern transplants had ever seen in one place, 20th century cafeterias helped to shape California’s famously healthy diet, while providing good fellowship, good value and free entertainment to their devoted patrons.

Without hovering waitstaff eager to flip a table to increase their tips, cafeterias became the de facto private clubhouses for regular folks who gathered in affinity groups, among them lonely hearts clubs, the Sierra Club and The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, a group of fans, professional writers and rocket scientists that met at the newly opened Clifton’s Cafeteria in the mid-1930s.

Join Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for a virtual exploration of L.A.’s most charming, inventive and affordable historic dining destinations. Drawing on original research into Clifford Clinton’s papers at UCLA Special Collections, the Clinton family’s personal archives and years of obsessive sleuthing, Esotouric’s love letter to the Cafeterias of Old Los Angeles will surprise, delight, educate and amuse you.

Your hosts Kim Cooper and Richard Schave are native Angelenos who have a deep love of cafeteria culture, having grown up enjoying the family-friendly fare in the waning days of the great cafeteria age. For some years before the Clinton family sold the business, they hosted a free monthly cultural salon series upstairs at Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway, and later upstairs at the former Schaber’s Cafeteria (Les Noces du Figaro).

Tune in for a full tray of vintage cafeteria philosophy, architecture and lore, with a virtual plate of multicolored confetti jello on the side.

This webinar is an illustrated lecture packed with rare photos that will bring Los Angeles’ cafeteria history to life. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app.

After the presentation, Kim and Richard will answer your questions about these historic restaurants, so get ready to be a part of the show.

About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one another on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging even deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.

Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.

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