Lands End could have its Cliff House replacement restaurant by year’s end, as the applications are now available for any restaurateur interested in taking over the historic spot.

When we last heard about the empty and in-limbo Cliff House restaurant building, there was some vague plan to have a new restaurant by the end of 2022, though it probably would not be called the Cliff House. That name and trademark belong to the Hountalas family that ran the place for generations. But they closed the place down during the summer of 2020 when restaurants galore were doing temporary COVID-19 closures, and then announced the closure would be permanent in December 2020, as their lease was expiring and they couldn’t strike a new deal with the National Park Service that owns that property on which the building sits.

But that plan to open a new restaurant this year seems very much in effect. The Chronicle reports the application to take over the Cliff House building is now available, in the form of a request for proposal (RFP).

That Cliff House RFP is available online to anyone interested. “Interested restaurateurs have 120 days to submit a proposal. The Park Service aims to choose an operator this summer,” the Chronicle reports. “If all goes according to plan, the next restaurant operator’s lease will start in late 2022.”

The deal includes the old formal Cliff House restaurant space, plus the more casual Sutro’s at the Cliff House space, as well as the cafe at the nearby Lands End Lookout Visitor Center. A new tenant may choose to reconfigure the Cliff House spaces however they please.


OK let’s cut to the chase, what is the rent? The good news for a prospective operator, as seen above, is that the first year is free! But realize it’s a 20-year lease, and by Year Four, the tenant is paying about 500 grand a month. It then goes up 3% annually after that.

But the place is steeped in history, and a huge draw for both tourists and locals alike. We saw that when crowds gathered on New Year’s Eve 2020 to watch the Cliff House signage come down (though the place was quickly coated with graffiti after that).

And while that old Cliff House signage is unlikely to come back, other really compelling historical attractions could be part of the deal. The Cliff House was robbed of some of its artifacts last February, but these were recovered prior to an auction later that month. Many Cliff House history enthusiasts cornered the market in that auction, to create a pop-up Cliff House museum that currently sits in the building.

So, any new restaurant tenant has a strong chance of retaining those historical items for display. But more importantly, a new restaurant would have a certainty of retaining throngs of diners from both near and far who would very enthusiastically visit a new restaurant in that historic space.  

Related: The Totally Preposterous History Of Cliff House [SFist]

Image: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons