The Cliff House closed its doors in 2020, leaving many Bay Area residents wondering what would happen to the iconic restaurant and space. After several years of uncertainty, the National Parks Service announced that a 20-year lease was awarded to Sutro Lands End Partners LLC. The space is expected to open sometime in 2024, and details about the new restaurant have yet to be released.
The Cliff House closed in 2020, citing the pandemic and the federal government stalling their lease. The closure followed another iconic restaurant in the area, Louis’, announcing it was closing its doors.
Cliff House history
Perched on the rugged cliffs at Lands End, the Cliff House has a long history in San Francisco, and the current building is actually the 3rd iteration of the structure. The first structure was built in 1863 as a small, one-story structure atop the cliffs. Traveling to the resort was difficult and would take hours, making it only accessible to wealthy visitors. Guests of the first Cliff House included SF’s wealthiest families and even several presidents.
Despite its initial prestige, the resort declined in popularity over the years until legendary SF businessman Adolph Sutro bought the property in 1881, only for it to burn down several years later in 1894. Sutro wasted no time constructing a new, grander resort. By 1896, a new Victorian version was open to the public.
The massive 8-story building looked like a castle nestled on the cliffs. The resort had dining rooms, bars, dancing, art galleries, and more. Unfortunately, the beautiful building’s reign on the cliffs was short-lived, burning down in 1907.
In 1909, a third and final Cliff House was built, this time in concrete, by Emma Sutro Merritt. The building is still standing today with the same neoclassical design.