San Francisco

Cliff House Restaurant's Last Day Marked by Removal of Iconic Sign in SF

After 157 years, the landmark restaurant closes for good

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco closed its doors for good Thursday after 157 years, and the iconic sign atop the building was removed, much to the chagrin of dozens of revelers who gathered at the Bay Area landmark.

Workers removed the sign one letter at a time Thursday, the restaurant's official last day of operation, though it has been closed for months because of coronavirus restrictions. Proprietors Dan and Mary Hountalas have said the building will no longer be a restaurant but instead a federal office building, according to their sources.

In this raw aerial footage, workers are seen taking down the iconic sign on the Cliff House restaurant letter by letter on its official final day of operation Thursday.

The permanent closure can be attributed in part to the coronavirus pandemic, which has restricted operations for much of the past year to takeout service. But the restaurant also has been mired in a contract dispute with the National Parks Service over concessions.

The owners say a 20-year contract expired in June 2018, and since then, the parks service has issued one 6-month contract and two consecutive one-year contracts.

The last contract expired Thursday.

The closure put 180 employees out of work, the owners said, adding that they "attempted to institute takeout service in early June but after 10 weeks could not continue to sustain the unbearable losses associated with takeout."

The historic restaurant has been operating since 1863, and it is one of San Francisco's legendary landmarks.

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