A 157-year-old restaurant in San Francisco will be permanently closed by the end of the year – but not just because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cliff House owners Dan and Mary Hountalas announced Sunday that the landmark will be permanently closed on December 31, leaving 180 employees unemployed.
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In a notice to customers, the owners said that while the coronavirus – which was decimating the restaurant industry – exacerbated their problems, the problem began when the restaurant’s 20-year contract expired in June 2018.
A view of the Cliff House Restaurant on October 10, 2013 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
At that point, the Hountalases said the National Park Service (NPS) is expected to sign another long-term contract or lease. Instead, the NPS issued a six-month and then two consecutive one-year concessions.
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The last extension was carried out on January 1, 2020 and is due to expire on December 31, according to the owners.
“We all here at The Cliff House are outraged by the NPS’s failure to select a new long-term operator in 2018, which avoids all of these unnecessary trouble and heartache,” said the Hountalases on the restaurant’s website, adding that “a lot of valuable “Memorabilia” inside are now being auctioned.
The Cliff House was offered a fourth one-year extension to “keep guarding and servicing the building,” the owners said. However, they rejected the expansion due to the high cost of maintaining and guarding the building, especially during the pandemic.
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“In contrast to the government, which is not held responsible for profits and losses, we could not accept the additional extension because there is no way to achieve a sustainable level of business in the foreseeable future,” said the Hountalases.
The owners said they had not been able to operate as of March 17th. Although they tried to switch to the take-out service in early June, they had to end the service after a few months because of “unbearable losses associated with the take-out”.
The Hountalases, who have run Cliff House for the past 47 years, said this situation could have been prevented if they had been given a long-term contract two and a half years ago.
“This is certainly not the way to thank us, a local small business owned and operated by Native Franciscans, for looking after this San Francisco treasure with a significant financial loss over the past year,” said the Hountalases .
Now they are seeking “help to publicly hold the NPS responsible for their mistakes that result in the loss of livelihoods of 180 employees and their families” and the “loss of one of San Francisco’s cherished landmarks.”
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National Park Service officials did not immediately respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.