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Apr-17-2010

Strong show of support for Louis’ Diner

I stopped by the “Friends of Louis’ Diner” event today. The restaurant, which has been run by three generations of the Hontalas family for 73 years, is facing possible closure as their lease is up for renewal.

According to federal law, the business, which sits on federal land, is open to other bidders. The diner will submit a bid to the National Park Service, which includes improvements to the property and a request for a multi-year lease.

The diner invited supporters to come out to show their support and enjoy free hot dogs, IT’S IT ice cream, and Louis’ Coney Island clam chowder. They also held a free raffle for diner t-shirts and sweatshirts.

A couple of hundred people dropped by, many of them patrons that have been going to Louis’ Diner for many years, some for decades.

I met one married couple who have been eating at Louis’ since the 1940s. They remembered ice skating at Sutro Baths down the block and then coming to Louis’ afterwards.

Sutro Baths historian Tom Bratton, who eats there about once a week, was there to show his support. He said his father was a manager at Sutro Baths and when the Hontalas family first opened the diner, his father used to come to the restaurant to help them with their English lessons.

I asked Tom what the best strategy was for securing the prized corner booth at Louis’, which overlooks the ruins of the Sutro Baths and the blue Pacific. He laughed and said “Good luck!” But then he told me they open at 6:30am so perhaps if I was first in line, I’d get it one day. ;)

If you’d like to show your support for Louis’ Diner to stay in business, you can sign the online petition, or email a story, memory (even a sentence!) to louisrestaurant1937@gmail.com which they will include with their bid to the National Park Service. If you prefer, mail in your words of support to: Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos Road, San Francisco, CA 94121.

The Chronicle also had a nice article today about Louis’.

Sarah B.


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6:13 pm | Posted under Food, History | 5 comments
  1. Sue Hontalas said:

    This is absolutely fabulous!! Great commentary and wonderful photos…and another speech by my brother…..one I did not hear as I was outside taking photos.

  2. John Freeman said:

    An interview with Tom Bratton provided great continuity and historical perspective. Tom grew up in Sutro Baths and lived in the neighborhood when Louis’ was started and still serves as a regular volunteer for the Park Service, conducting tours of the Sutro Baths ruins. The loss of Louis’ would be the loss of another great landmark at Lands End. Great to see such loyal support.

  3. JL said:

    The Chron and SFist are picking up the story as well. Thanks for spreading the news, Sarah!

  4. Bronwyn Galloway said:

    SF native. Great memories of going here after visiting the beach and writing in the sand.

  5. Iconic Louis’ Diner will survive to serve many more breakfasts | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said:

    [...] Fans of the diner wrote letters to the federal review board while the Hontalas family hosted a “Friends of Louis’ Diner” event in April to drum up community [...]

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