SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A landmark restaurant that has been a San Francisco fixture for 150 years has become a casualty of the federal government shutdown, putting more than 170 people out of work.
Cliff House, a private establishment, is perched atop the cliffs overlooking Ocean Beach and Seal Rocks. It has drawn tourists and locals alike since it opened in 1863 with its spectacular views and menu items like spinach ricotta pine nut ravioli and baked Alaskan halibut filet.
But as a concessionaire of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which is operated by the National Park Service, it has been forced to shutter its doors for the duration of the gridlock in Washington.
Last week, the restaurant closed for four days but defiantly reopened Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, however, federal authorities again ordered it to close.
“We just have to follow the orders from Washington,” said Kevin Weber, Cliff House’s executive chef.
The restaurant’s owners, Dan and Mary Hountalas, said they are going to suffer losses of $10,000 per day for each day that the shutdown is in effect.
“The Cliff House, a privately owned business that does not depend on any tax dollars or federal funding, must have income in order to survive and meet its obligations to the public visitors, its employees, and the Park Service,” the owners said in a statement. “Even though the Cliff House is not open for business, there are daily operating costs, which include maintenance of the iconic Cliff House building, ironically for the benefit of the Park Service in addition to the visiting public.”
Truckloads of unused food, including seafood, chicken and beef, have been donated to local charities.
Sixty-five gallons of clam chowder were given to Food Runners, a local charity dedicated to alleviating hunger in San Francisco, rather than allowed to go to waste, Weber said.
Most of the restaurant’s employees have been placed on unpaid leave.
“We’re paying vacation as much as we can,” said Weber, who has been Cliff House’s chef for 24 years.
Nonetheless, many of the workers face tough choices.
“Some people are deciding whether they are going to see their mothers at Christmas or take their vacation days now,” he said.
By Channing Joseph