Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

Cliff House To Reopen as New Mystery Restaurant This Year

Written by Garrett LeahyPublished Feb. 07, 2023 • 4:06pm
The former Cliff House near Ocean Beach in San Francisco. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

A mysterious new restaurant vendor has been selected to run the site previously occupied by Cliff House, the National Park Service told The Standard.

The unnamed new restaurateur is set to begin its lease at the location of the iconic Princess Diaries eatery in 2023.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area—a branch of the National Park Service (NPS) that owns the 1090 Point Lobos Ave. site—refused to say who is the behind the new venture.

The park service said that due to a combination of leasing terms and the historic nature of the building, the overall look and layout will remain the same.

The Cliff House lease will also include the café at the nearby Lands End visitor center, according to bidding documents.

Ocean Beach is seen from the Cliff House viewing area in San Francisco. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

A bidding process by the service to find a willing business to take over the space to operate a restaurant began in January 2022, more than a year after the restaurant shuttered in 2020.

"Following the evaluation process, the most qualified respondent with the best proposal has been selected for lease negotiations with an anticipated lease start date later this year," said NPS spokesperson Julian Espinoza. "Unfortunately, for reasons to do with contract privacy, we cannot release the name of the selectee. However, we expect to make an announcement in the coming months."

San Francisco historian Woody LaBounty said that he is curious how much of the former Cliff House will remain intact when the new owners take over, including whether the new restaurant will be called Cliff House. The former operators, Dan and Mary Hountalas, still own the rights to the Cliff House name, according to LaBounty.

"They could make it a blue-light sushi restaurant, but it would be great if they could honor and keep the tradition going at Cliff House," LaBounty said.

LaBounty co-founded the Western Neighborhoods Project, which purchased a large amount of Cliff House memorabilia during an auction in 2021. The organization also ran an exhibition of such memorabilia out of the Cliff House's former building last year.

The project's executive director, Nicole Meldahl, said she would be happy to loan its memorabilia to the new vendor to honor the memory of the longtime restaurant.

"We would be thrilled to loan our Cliff House Collection to the new tenant. Nothing would make us happier," Meldahl said in an email.

"Now it's a matter of waiting and seeing how they honor the history they are stepping into," LaBounty said.

Cliff House first opened in 1863. The current building was originally constructed in 1909 and had a major addition completed in 2006. The building is roughly 27,000 square feet.

The current building is the third Cliff House at that location.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at

A man in a tan jacket and brown fedora stands beside a woman with a scarf draped over her shoulders.

San Francisco Jazz Club Owner Leaves Storied Legacy Behind in the Fillmore

A person with a top hat and red sweater stands with a "No Dancing" sign in the back.

San Francisco’s Roller Disco Godfather Furious With Giant ‘No Dancing’ Sign

A woman in white pants and a striped short sleeve top sits on a wooden bench in an art gallery looking at a painting.

‘Better Than the Louvre’: See Botticelli Like Never Before in New San Francisco Exhibition

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI looks offscreen with a blue background.

Here’s How You Can Win Money Betting on the OpenAI Drama 

Two actresses in a Ford Mustang.

See 4 Iconic San Francisco Locations From ‘The Princess Diaries’