The Cliff House’s Closure is a Sad Footnote to 2020

Like Nob Hill, Chinatown and North Beach, this building, otherwise known as the Cliff House, is a connection to Historic San Francisco. So, when news broke yesterday that the proprietors of the Cliff House for 47+ years had walked away from the operation, it was a shock. This is not the 2020 “Covid did us in” story we’re familiar with. But it’s sad nonetheless.

Update on February 5th: Maybe not so fast for the restaurant closing after all. The name will change, but the having a great meal perched above the waves might still be something to look forward to. Stay tuned for more informaion next month.

San Francisco’s Cliff House likely returning as a restaurant after all, landlords say

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday in favor of a resolution urging the National Park Service, which owns the property, to immediately make use of the space while it searches for a long-term tenant. A National Park Service spokesperson confirmed that the federal agency plans to do so soon — and that the goal is for the building to house a restaurant once again, reversing a previous stance that a restaurant might not be a viable tenant for the property due to the state of the food industry…

But whatever restaurant potentially moves into the building likely will not be called Cliff House or bring the sign back, as the Hountalases trademarked the name.

Cliff House Announces Its Closure

It is with deep regret and heartbreak that we must inform you that The Cliff House will close permanently on December 31, 2020. 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-term basis to ensure the continued operation of this national treasure. Since then, the NPS has issued us one six-month and then two consecutive one-year concession contract extensions rather than proceed in a timely fashion with their responsibility to execute a new long-term contract or lease…

It is obvious that the NPS has failed in its stated mission to safeguard natural and cultural resources: The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. (Source

Who knows what went on with the negotiations, but no one has ever accused bureaucracy of moving quickly or decisively. Let’s hope that that watching the game and getting a drink at the Cliff House bar will never be a thing of the past.