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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — New Year’s Eve got off to a rocky start early Thursday as a 3.6 magnitude struck along the San Andreas Fault just south of Muir Beach and was felt widely in San Francisco and Marin County. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck at 5:41 a.m. with the epicenter on the famed fault line in the Pacific Ocean just off the Golden Gate Bridge.

After more than a century, San Francisco’s iconic Cliff House restaurant to close
San Francisco’s iconic Cliff House restaurant, which has served residents and tourists for more than a century from atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is closing its doors at the end of the year.

Dan and Mary Hountalas, the restaurant’s proprietors since 1973, said in a post on the restaurant’s website Sunday that they are closing Dec. 31 because of losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a dispute over renewal of their long-term operating contract with the National Park Service.

Built in 1863, the seaside restaurant has been a San Francisco institution and a top tourist attraction. It has gone through several transformations. The first modest, wood-frame structure was destroyed in a fire in 1894. Rebuilt and fashioned after a French chateau, it survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake but burned down the following year.

The third and present Cliff House, neoclassical in design, was built in 1909. It underwent a renovation in 2004.

The National Park Service bought the property in 1977, four years after the Hountalases began leasing it. Their last long-term contract with the service expired in June 2018, and the restaurant had been operating since then under short-term contracts, the couple said. The Hountalases said the park service should have selected an operator on a long-term basis “to ensure the continued operation of this national treasure.” “It costs tens of thousands of dollars every month to maintain and guard the massive Cliff House building,” the Hountalases wrote.

Visited by five U.S. presidents, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft,
as well as many other famous citizens of the world, The Cliff House remained a favorite of the local population. Sutro’s streetcar line and his desire to share the luxury and splendor of his new Cliff House with the general public combined to bring crowds of San Franciscans to the coast. In 1898 Adolph Sutro died after a long illness. In June of 1907 The Cliff House was leased to John Tait of Tait’s at the Beach, and seven partners. On September 7, 1907, after extensive remodelling and just prior to reopening, the most resplendent and beloved of all Cliff Houses burned to its foundation. This exquisite building had survived the 1906 earthquake only to succumb to a raging fire that destroyed it in less than two hours. The first Cliff House was a modest structure built in 1863 by Senator John Buckley and C. C. Butler. Captain Junius Foster eventually leased the Cliff House Restaurant from C. C. Butler and under his management wealthy San Franciscans flocked to the coast to enjoy the unique restaurant and wonderful views. The guest register bore the names of three U.S. presidents as well as prominent San Francisco families such as the Hearsts, Stanfords, and Crockers, who would drive their carriages out to Ocean Beach for horse racing and recreation.

The Cliff House was a restaurant on Point Lobos Avenue perched on the headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach,
in the Outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The building overlooks the site of the former Sutro Baths and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the National Park Service (NPS). The building is owned by the NPS; the building’s terrace hosts a room-sized camera obscura.

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Image courtesy Cliff House official site, Nancy Brown, and Yelp

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