SAN FRANCISCO—On December 13, San Francisco’s landmark restaurant The Cliff House announced that they will close permanently on December 31 after receiving a response for the restaurant property inquiries from the National Park Service (NPS).
According to an official announcement on the Cliff House’s website, the restaurant’s 20-year concession contract with the NPS expired on June 30, 2018. The business owners negotiated with the NPS to continue their long stewardship with a new long-term contract or lease. The NPS issued one six-month and then two consecutive one-year concession contract extensions. The restaurant said their last extension was on January 1, 2020, until December 31, 2020.
The restaurant said the NPS offered them a fourth one-year extension to continue guarding and maintaining the building with all costs to be paid by the restaurant without any compensations from the NPS.
The restaurant released the following decision of their inquires provided by the NPR on December 7:
“The first Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued by the Cliff House has expired and will need to be completely redone, causing a further delay of what could be years. Given how that went in more normal times, the NPS does not expect this to be done on time. There will not be an interim successor or partner, so the building will be left unoccupied and watched over by the NPS at the taxpayer’s expense. The restaurant must remove all personal property in the building, including all memorabilia, as opposed to being paid for our property by the ultimate successor operator as provided in their contract. And there will be no effort to speed up the process for successorship.”
On December 16, San Francisco News reached out to Laura Joss, who’s general superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but did not hear back before print.
Dan and Mary Hountalas, both proprietors, leased the Cliff House from George Whitney, Jr. in 1973 and the NPS did not buy the property until 1977. The restaurant’s owners indicated that after being the Cliff House’s proprietors for 47 years and a half, they are probably the longest-tenured in the 157-year history.
The Cliff House responded regarding the NPS’s decision stating:
“We are seeking help in holding the NPS publicly responsible for their failures resulting in the loss of the livelihood of 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 our local folks who did our best to stay true to this legacy.”