The latest development in SoCal’s shark frenzy took place at Clifton’s Republic, a nightclub and restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, where a three-foot, sixteen-pound, 6,600-calorie, 468-carb baby great white was recently spotted. An abnormally high concentration of great whites have been loitering in the shallows across the Southland this year; lifeguards have spotted as many as 25 in one day, some up to ten feet in length. Several clips of sharks breaching alarmingly close to the Lowers lineup have surfaced, and there was an attack nearby that led to beach closures. All of this activity has occurred primarily in the San Clemente area, but the doughy incident at Clifton’s shows that not even landlocked downtown Los Angeles is safe.
We went down to the Broadway district to figure out what business a young great white has in the city. Denis, the baker and shark expert at Clifton’s, showed us around and gave us the inside details on the story.
Clifton’s is a multi-level nightclub and restaurant ornately designed to celebrate California’s natural and cultural legacies, especially animals – including marine life. Denis described the idea behind the design: “It’s a very, very special place. Different floors, different bars…something to see, you know? It’s all about nature, like wood, animals, stuff like that. The owner, he liked to make the friendship of animals because that’s what he liked.”
That explains the taxidermied beasts, like grizzlies and bison, that peer out from every corner. It also explains the elaborate bread animals that decorate the cafeteria, where sharks can often be found. Denis is the guy behind these creations, and he demonstrated how he transforms sixteen pounds of dough into a sleek, detailed shark in just minutes. He leaves out yeast so these sculptures can hold their form, so it’s not edible – but Clifton’s, in all its mystical peculiarity, is certainly a feast for the eyes.