The iconic, 157-year-old Cliff House restaurant, overlooking San Francisco's Ocean Beach, just announced that it is suspending takeout services and hoping to conserve resources to reopen more fully at a later date.
The temporary closure of the Cliff House, which sits on National Park land and caters heavily to tourists, comes just a week after the permanent closure of nearby Louis' Restaurant, which has been slinging breakfast at Lands End for 83 years.
The Cliff House closed in mid-March with the rest of San Francisco and did not reopen for takeout service until early June. The owners of the Cliff House made the announcement on Facebook and to their email list. It reads, in part:
Our commitment to our guests, our staff, and to San Francisco has never been stronger. It is due to this very commitment that we have decided to suspend our takeout service at both the Cliff House and the Lookout Cafe effective this Monday, July 20, 2020. Because of economic pressure during this unprecedented situation we have concluded that it would be best to preserve our remaining resources to ensure a continuance of future operations. This was not an easy decision to make especially considering the support we have received from all of you.
The Cliff House has been operated for decades by the Hountalas family, led by Dan and Mary Hountalas — cousins of Tom and Bill Hontalas, whose family has operated Louis' around the corner since 1937. This little corner of the city was once home to multiple businesses run by Greek immigrants, and the Hountalas/Hontalas clan has held on to the restaurants through generations.
Last year we learned that the Hountalases once again had to reapply to the National Park Service to renew their contract on the Cliff House, and as Eater reported in January, it was still up in the air as to whether the family had won a new contract or not — the feds had delayed their decision until this summer.
Now, the Hountalases say that they expect to reopen at a later date, and "the sheer size of our building means we will be able to provide ample distancing between tables to provide safety and comfort to our guests," post-lockdown.
Still they say that it is only feasible to remain open if they can do both take out and dine-in service, and San Francisco has not yet set a new date when indoor dining may resume.
Photo: Tim Foster