PHOTOS: Inside San Francisco's iconic Cliff House, now permanently closing its doors

Monday, December 14, 2020
San Francisco's iconic Cliff House is permanently closing down
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San Francisco's historic Cliff House is now permanently closed after lease lapse involving the National Park Service.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As you may have heard, San Francisco's Iconic Cliff House at Ocean Beach has closed its doors permanently, at least in this iteration.

After two years of negotiating a new lease with the National Park service, the Hountalas family has given up. "COVID was the last straw," said Mary Hountalas. They had the franchise "47 and a half years."

RELATED: San Francisco's historic Cliff House restaurant to close permanently

"It is sad, but needs to be done," added her son-in-law, Ralph Burgin, the general manager.

He's now in charge of closing up the place.

"We, too are disappointed by the temporary disruption of services," the NPS said in part Monday. "We do not have any further information to provide at this time."

"I just think they are in a disconnect locally and regionally. They don't know what is going on," said Mary Hountalas.

PHOTOS: Inside SF's historic Cliff House

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Here’s a look at San Francisco’s historic Cliff House, now permanently closing its doors.
KGO-TV/Wayne Freedman

The Cliff House began as a roadside attraction in 1863, and changed with time. It even burned down shortly after the 1906 Earthquake. It has witnessed shipwrecks and glamour. The 130 pictures, here, testify to a century's worth of who's who for whom The Cliff House was a place to be.

"They are all signed. Autographed. A great collection," said Burgin.

Now, they're just more relics in the symmetry of disassembly that includes furniture, plates, glasses, cutlery, old pictures, art, even Burtin's famous Bloody Mary Mix. The family will either store them or, if necessary, put them up for auction.

The last 47 years, likely another footnote in the history of this grand, iconic structure that holds countless memories for generations of San Franciscans and visitors. Even as we spoke, the faithful pressed their faces to the glass, peering in.

If you are as curious and sentimental as them, perhaps you'll appreciate a few photos I took of the place -- the mess, and the history.

Maybe they will trigger some memories for you.