Clifton's is now being run by Andrew Meieran, who already owns a popular downtown bar called The Edison.
Early Tuesday, Meieran said he was closing on a lease to operate Clifton's and may buy it later.
Clifton's is famous for its retro, forest-inspired décor that has been described as kitschy and theatrical, with flowing indoor creeks, fake redwood trees and woodland creatures.
Meieran plans to keep the cafeteria open 24 hours, keep the comfort-food menu but redecorate its upstairs room into a nightclub.
Meieran said he's honored to be part of Clifton's legacy and wants to ensure Clifton's iconic tribute to American idealism, hope and imagination will be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.
He also plans to draw half of his 100-person staff from a nearby homeless shelter's culinary training program.
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