It’s a sad day in the Bay Area’s culinary history, as one of its beloved local restaurants announces it will be closing for good.
After a century and a half of being in operation, The Cliff House is being added to the list of 2020 closures. The announcement was made on Sunday by longtime restaurant owners Dan and Mary Hountalas, who have been its proprietors for over 47 years.
The closure comes as a result of a combination of factors. In addition to the pandemic, the Hountalases attribute much of the issue to delays by the National Park Service, owners of the Cliff House property, to reach an agreement regarding the renewal of a long-term contract.
Since the end of the proprietors’ 20-year contract with the NPS in 2018, they were issued several short-term contracts, the last of which expires on December 31.
As a consequence of the upcoming closing, owners say 180 employees will lose their jobs. The proprietors are outraged, having already taken a significant financial loss this year in upkeep of the landmark and trying to keep as many employees on board as possible during the pandemic.
The Hountlases put out a statement on their website on Sunday, indicating that the situation could have been avoided had the government awarded another long-term contract two years ago.
The NPS is currently planning to leave the Cliff House empty and, according to a letter obtained by the SF Chronicle, the property may not reopen as a restaurant at all, given the current state of the food industry.
The Cliff House has been a Bay Area landmark since its establishment in 1858, offering striking views of the Pacific. Perched atop the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach, the San Francisco favorite overlooks the former Sutro Baths and forms part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The iconic building has seen visits from presidents, tourists and locals alike over the years in its upscale seafood restaurant Sutro’s, the more casual Bistro, as well as its Lookout Cafe nearby.
This year has been especially hard for eateries and local hotspots, and we are crushed to see this prized Bay Area restaurant go.
[Featured image: The Cliff House]