Telegraph Hill landmark Julius' Castle may finally be seeing the light at the end of a years-long tunnel that included a lengthy Planning review, and a lawsuit by NIMBY neighbors paranoid about traffic.
SFist reported back in 2017 on the victory of local developer Paul Scott at the Planning Commission, following plenty of pushback by a group of well-to-do neighbors who were unhappy that the 95-year-old restaurant might come back to life after shuttering a decade earlier. At the time, Planning Commissioner Kathrin Moore told the NIMBYs, "We are not living in the suburbs, where everything has to be quiet 24/7. This is the reactivation of something that has been here longer than any of us have been alive."
The neighbors' non-profit group Friends of Montgomery Street then filed a lawsuit against the city in July 2018, claiming that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors violated state CEQA rules in approving the restaurant's reopening. The City Attorney’s office responded at the time saying, "petitioners cannot carry their burden to demonstrate that the historic restaurant, which for decades operated successfully in the same building atop Telegraph Hill, now somehow poses 'unusual circumstances' that preclude San Francisco’s approval. [...] That the site successfully operated as a restaurant for nearly a century belies any claim of 'unusual circumstances.'"
That lawsuit was just recently tossed out by a judge, and KPIX/CBS SF reports that Scott — himself a Telegraph Hill resident — hopes to finally get the restaurant open by the end of the year. He purchased the building back in 2012.
"I understood when I bought the building that I would need to go through some hoops to get the building back open again," Scott tells KPIX. "I didn’t anticipate it would be the ordeal that it’s been."
Scott says that nonetheless there's been "a lot of support along the way," particularly from longtime Bay Area residents who had long ago first dates or proms at Julius' Castle.
The hilltop restaurant with its sweeping Bay views was first opened in 1924 by Italian-American restaurateur Julius Roz. The restaurant's interior paneling allegedly includes pieces taken out of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, for which the Palace of Fine Arts was constructed. And over the restaurant's first 83 years, it played host to the likes of Marlon Brando, Ginger Rogers, Robert Redford, Cary Grant, and Sean Connery, among other celebrity guests.
There's no word yet on who'll be in charge of the food or what the menu may look like when Julius' comes back to life, but stay tuned.
Previously: Hoorah! Julius' Castle Approved To Reopen On Telegraph Hill [SFist]