Historic Telegraph Hill restaurant Julius’ Castle has been granted permission to reopen after more than a decade of closure. SF Planning Commissioners voted unanimously last week to allow owner and neighborhood resident Paul Scott to proceed with his plan to restore the long-vacant city landmark to its glory days, when celebrities like Marlon Brando and Ginger Rogers would pack the dining room to enjoy some of the city’s best views. Renovations of the space at 302 Greenwich Street have been ongoing, and now that he’s got the go-ahead from the city, Scott is putting out the call to operators who might be interested in running the restaurant, though some have already approached him.
Julius’ was closed to the public in 2007 as its previous owner sought a buyer for the space as a residence. Scott snapped it up in 2012, kicking off his years-long effort to bring back Julius’ as a restaurant. That project has weathered delays, a small fire, and letters of opposition from nearby homeowners in the wealthy Telegraph Hill enclave. While they’ve cited concerns over noise and traffic, which Scott hopes to mitigate, “[Julius’s Castle] been here for almost a century,” he observed last month, “well before many of the residences that were built here.”
Opened in 1922, the “castle” is named for proprietor Julius Roz, an Italian immigrant with regal tastes if no royal lineage. There’s plenty of restoration left to do to return the restaurant to the splendor its name invokes, but “it’s finally starting to look decent again” says Scott. The fire, in 2013, damaged the exterior, but fortunately did no harm to interior wood panelling, which dates to the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.
When Julius’ does return, Scott says not to expect “any major surprises in terms of cuisines.” The restaurant has typically served Italian or American food, with a 1939 SF city guide proclaiming that “To taste [Roz Julius’] fish sauce supreme, his tagliarini and his banana soufflé is to have a glimpse of an epicure’s heaven.”