The most L.A. love story ever: Why we scattered our mother's ashes in Clifton's Cafeteria

Devoutly religious cafe owner Clifford Clinton and my sex-aid pioneer mom had an unorthodox affair for the ages

By Ray Richmond

Published September 21, 2015 10:59PM (EDT)

  (Courtesy of Ray Richmond)
(Courtesy of Ray Richmond)

If you find yourself in Los Angeles and decide to take a meal at Clifton’s Cafeteria in the ever-gentrifying Downtown L.A. – poised to reopen tonight, five years to the day after local developer/tycoon Andrew Meieran bought the place and launched a massive $10 million-plus makeover ($14 million including the purchase itself) – you will have a chance to experience the mind-blowing transformation of an iconic (established in 1935) dining establishment into an impossibly stylish symbol of Downtown’s explosive renaissance.

But it should be pointed out that not all of the latest wrinkles will be clearly visible on first viewing. Some are a bit more hidden. And that includes the lingering presence of my very own mother, Terri Richmond, who is literally entombed in the permanent cafeteria décor.

It was actually Mother’s idea to be reunited in perpetuity with Clifford E. Clinton, the esteemed Clifton’s founder and the great love of her life. So in January 2011 on the one-year anniversary of our mother’s death at 88 from congestive heart failure, my brother, sister and I took Mom for a last lunch at the cafeteria, already deep into renovations. The siblings and I ate. Mom sat beside us in a box that held her cremated remains an...

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Ray Richmond

Ray Richmond is a journalist who is co-writing a screenplay based on his mother’s story and lives in Studio City, CA. His mother resides eternally in downtown Los Angeles.

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