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Vandals Deface SF’s Iconic Cliff House Restaurant

Also: A fatal hit-and-run’s restaurant ties, and more news to know today

Within hours of its official closure, the Cliff House was covered in graffiti
Rick Bellamy (@rodierick)/Twitter

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • 11th-hour negotiations between the National Park Service and the most recent operators of the Cliff House broke down on December 30, former proprietors Dan and Mary Hountalas said via Facebook, prompting the restaurant’s (expected) closure. While a NPS spokesperson told SF Gate that rumors that the federal agency would turn the building into office space were “completely false,” the NPS won’t say what their plan is for the 157-year-old business. KPIX reports that a crowd gathered to watch the removal of the Cliff House sign on New Year’s Eve, and by the morning of January 1, the restaurant was already covered in graffiti, the SF Examiner reports, as was Louis’ Diner up the street. A video posted by Twitter user Rick Bellamy shows a park ranger painting over the tags that afternoon, as without a tenant, the building’s protection and maintenance is the responsibility of taxpayers, not the business.
  • The tale of a fatal New Year’s Eve hit-and-run began at a popular Daly City hamburger shop. The SF Chronicle reports that Troy McAlister, who allegedly struck and killed Hana Abe and Elizabeth Platt as they walked in a SoMa crosswalk, stole the vehicle he allegedly drove into the victims during a date at the Nation’s Giant Hamburgers in Westlake two days before the collision. McAlister reportedly pulled the keys to a 2017 Honda HR-V from his date as they pair waited for their food, then “peeled away...while giving her the middle finger.” KPIX reports that shortly before Abe and Platt’s death, police believe that McAlister burglarized a restaurant on Ritch Street between Bryant and Brannan Streets, suggesting that he was fleeing the scene of that crime when he allegedly struck the women. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin tells KPIX that Daly City police should have arrested McAlister following the December 29 theft at Nation’s, saying “they were aware of his address and his phone number” but “wrote in their report apparently that they were going to wait until January 3rd.”
  • Chinatown’s 100-year-old Far East Cafe might remain open a bit longer. [SF Chronicle]
  • Food writer Justin Phillips says that Black-owned restaurants in the Bay Area saw an uptick in business following last summer’s social justice protests, “but after a while, that has started to wane.” [NPR]
  • A San Jose pop-up seeks to support downtown restaurants. [ABC 7]
  • Out-of-state tourists picking up takeout in Fisherman’s Wharf say that no one told them there was a quarantine order in effect in SF. [NBC Bay Area]
  • A Napa restauranteur who’s proudly flouted shut-down orders says that COVID-19 rates “are inflated.” [ABC 7]