Boarded up hotels, empty restaurants: A look at the final day of 2020 in San Francisco

ByKris Reyes via KGO logo
Friday, January 1, 2021
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Everywhere you looked on the last day of the year seemed to be a reminder that 2020 was a year like no other.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Scenes from the most bizarre New Year's Eve on record -- shuttered beach parking lots where crowds would ordinarily gather, a quiet Union Square, hotels boarded up and empty restaurants and bars.

Everywhere you looked on the last day of the year seemed to be a reminder that 2020 was a year like no other.

So, it was telling that the only crowd ABC7's Kris Reyes found wasn't for a celebration but for the ceremonial shutting down of an iconic San Francisco landmark.

RELATED: Here's a look back at San Francisco's New Year's Eve fireworks show from years past

The Cliff House sign came down in front of a weepy crowd, officially shutting down the restaurant after 157 years.

"I'm actually glad we had the earthquake this morning, we cleared that off our disaster Bingo card but this is just so inexpressibly sad for the Cliff House to be closing," said Jonathan Alloy, who got married at the Cliff House.

"I guess we're not going to get a break until 12:01," said another spectator who cried as the sign came down.

There will be no fireworks either, instead many will be at home. Programming is unlike anything we've ever had -- virtual concerts and ball drops, online chats, a social-distanced walk outdoors.

Still, there are always those who find the bright spots. Semaj Temple said she's grateful for the lessons of 2020 and all the free time it gave her.

RELATED: 2020: Looking back at how the COVID-19 pandemic controlled the year

"I'm looking forward to all the new things that will come with change and seeing how I can adapt to those things," she said.

Back at the Cliff House, accepting change isn't as easy, the crowd there lingered for awhile, taking in a sight that won't make into the new year.

"I don't think things will get back to normal, I don't think things will ever get back to normal," said Tom Hontalas, who owned Loui's, another popular San Francisco restaurant shut down by the pandemic.

He remains hopeful but to 2020, he has a simple sendoff, "Good riddance."

VIDEO: Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2020