Coming Soon: Clifton Diner Back, Better Than Ever

I first sat down with Perry Drosos  about two months ago. A mutual friend had called nearly a year ago and said, “Hey, Clifton Diner is coming back, how would like to go through it and talk with the owners?”

I said sure, let me know when they are ready to open.

I walked into the space on the corner of Hird and Clifton, which had been offices and a bank, and met yet another member of restaurant royalty. You see Perry’s parents owned the legendary Detroiter on Detroit Avenue in the 60s and 70s. Not that new one in DowtowN Lakewood that failed, but the real deal, in an era when a restaurant in Lakewood, especially one around for generations meant something.

The Detroiter was known for great American diner style food from 6am until midnight. At midnight all of the freaks that came out an night would move down to the Olympia BBQ, which was neither Olympian nor a BBQ. It was a 24-hour joint that catered to the bar crowd when the bars were closing, during an era when you had a chance to see some of the most wonderful sights-- from rock stars, to who knows what the hell they were.

“Remember that place?” said Perry, “It was an amazing melting pot of America, and indeed it was.
“Well I was trying something different over at the Clifton Diner,” on the opposite side of the street. “Growing up in the food business, I knew it was all about service and quality. That is what we were shooting for with the original Clifton Diner. That is what we are shooting for with the new “DinerBar on Clifton.”

Wait, did he say DinerBar on Clifton? Yes he did, the new project he is undertaking with partner and longtime Lakewood business and property owner Jim Gountis, is to capture the same great food, same amazing service the same ambiance of the Clifton Diner with a bar! Can you say Bloody Mary?

Over 10 years ago Perry acquired the building, and let it sit while he wondered what would be good there. New owners came into possession of the building the original Clifton Diner was in, and as often happens when an owner sees a very popular spot, lease prices went up, and Perry started to look for options. He knew he wanted to stay in or near Lakewood, especially the vibrant W117/Highland Avenue and Clifton Blvd. Corner, but how?

After looking at many options, he decided to move the legendary hotspot to Lakewood. Meanwhile another food spot opened in their old spot subtly making it sound like the Diner was reopening as something else. Perry wishes them the best of luck but wants to make sure all of the old fans of the Clifton Diner realize, DinerBar on Clifton is the real deal and the next step in diner food and the Clifton Diner experience.

Longtime Lakewoodite and partner Jim Gountis takes a break from hiring a new in-house pastry chef and walks over and we start to talk about Lakewood, restaurants, and what is happening in Foodwood.

“While restaurants seem to be springing up everywhere, choices for lunches seem to be drying up,” he said, and for fun we went through a list of restaurants currently serving lunches, Coffee Pot, Barracos, WestEnd, India Garden, Deagan’s, The Place to Be, but soon it becomes obvious, none of them are what the DinerBar on Clifton will be offering. That amazing menu that seems to transition from breakfast, to lunch, to brunch, to dinner to late night fare easily, effortlessly and with great food and great service.

A place that can serve breakfast through the day, while offering meatloaf dinner like Mom made, to the infamous diner style open face roast beef and turkey sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes.

When I asked about the dinner menu, Perry and Jim looked at each other and smiled, “We have some really great dishes coming, fish, steak, pork, etc. but we are not ready to share that yet, we are saving that for our opening.”

When I asked when, “Soon, we want to make sure everything is perfect and in place to roll out a great experience. We have a lot to live up to, and we intend to win those fans back, and make it a must stop for all.” With their deep love of food, Lakewood, the area, and knowing what it takes to be successful in the business, I for one, cannot wait to try. When they are opening, SOON, hours will be 7am - 11pm daily.

Ward 4 Councilman Dan O’Malley said to me, “I am thrilled to have this landmark restaurant re-opening in Lakewood and Ward 4, Congratulations to Perry and Jim and his entire team.”

I have to agree, I cannot wait to get back and try everything out.

DinerBar on Clifton
11801 Clifton Blvd.
Open: 7am - 11pm Daily

Jim O'Bryan

Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.

Read More on Foodwood©
Volume 14, Issue 15, Posted 6:00 PM, 07.17.2018