Like so many restaurants during 2020, San Francisco’s historic Cliff House will be closing permanently. On Sunday, the 157-year-old restaurant announced that it would be closing its doors on December 31 due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and delays by the National Park Service in agreeing to a long-term contract.
The restaurant ended indoor dining back in March and shut down 10 weeks later after only offering takeout service. After another stint of takeout-only in the summer, the restaurant determined that the business model simply wasn’t sustainable. The Cliff House’s contract with the National Park Service expired in 2018, and the restaurant has been hoping for a long-term extension ever since. Instead, the NPS’ delay forced the restaurant to operate under a series of short-term contracts that proved detrimental to business. That delay, combined with the devastating effects of the pandemic, led to the decision to close permanently.
Owners Dan and Mary Hountalas said in a statement, “The National Park Service should have selected an operator on a long-term basis to ensure the continued operation of this national treasure.”
The Cliff House was built in 1863 and has been visited by five US presidents during the course of its life. It’s assumed many identities over the years but has been a staple of San Francisco for as long as many can remember. It’s unclear what will happen to the building after the closure.