SAN FRANCISCO — The city’s venerable Cliff House restaurant, home to renowned views, meals and memories for multiple decades, will close its doors for good at month’s end, its longtime owners said Sunday.
In a statement posted to social media, Dan and Mary Hountalas, who have managed the restaurant since 1973, acknowledged the high hurdles the restaurant struggled to vault, including its closure in mid-March due to health orders meant to beat back the COVID-19 pandemic, and a run of takeout and limited delivery services from early June through July 20, when it closed yet again.
But the couple focused primarily on a federal government agency’s failure to negotiate new terms for the restaurant, which has served San Francisco residents and visitors for more than 150 years.
“Our 20-year concession contract expired on June 30, 2018; by that time, the National Park Service (NPS) should have selected an operator on a long-time basis to ensure the continued operation of this national treasure,” the couple said. “Since then, the NPS has issued us one six-month and then two one-year concession contract extensions rather than proceed in a timely fashion with their responsibility to execute a new long-term contract or lease.”
The statement closed by asking for help in holding the park service responsible for what it said was “their failures, resulting in the loss of livelihood for 180 employees and their families, as well as the loss of one of San Francisco’s treasured landmarks and the financial loss suffered by those of us local folks who did our best to stay true to this legacy.” Readers are asked to email comments to the NPS.
The restaurant had served thousands of customers per year, from hikers and day-trippers dropping in after time with neighborhood natural wonders like the Lands End Trail and Sutro Baths, to Richmond District regulars seeking refreshment, refuge and respite.
In a statement Monday afternoon, the parks service said it was “disappointed about this temporary suspension of services.”
“The NPS understands the difficult circumstances the coronavirus pandemic created for businesses across the globe. While we had hoped to continue working with Peanut Wagon, Inc., which operates the Cliff House and Lookout Café, we have honored their request to let the existing concession contract expire on December 31, 2020,” the statement said in part.
“We remain committed to providing an exceptional experience for residents and visitors to the Bay Area and look forward to welcoming the public back in the future.”
Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.