Iconic Louis’ Diner will survive to serve many more breakfasts

Back in April, we shared the news that San Francisco landmark Louis’ Diner was fighting to stay open.

The diner, which sits perched on the cliff overlooking the ruins of Sutro Baths, has been owned and run by the Hontalas family for 73 years. The diner was on a year to year lease with the National Park Service (the diner technically sits on federal land), and federal law required that the restaurant space be put up for bid by other vendors.

So the only choice the Hontalas family had was to submit their own bid to try and secure a long term lease, which included plans for maintenance work and upgrades to be in compliance with accessibility laws.

As the owners prepared their bid submission back in May, supporters of the beloved diner went into overdrive.

Nearly 5,000 signatures were gathered for a petition in support of the diner staying in the hands of the Hontalas family. 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 support.

Even City Hall threw their hat in the ring when Richmond District Supervisor Mar introduced and passed a Board of Supervisors resolution that strongly urged “the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to consider the importance of this cultural institution and the local family that has kept this San Francisco tradition serving loyal customers.”

The good news? It worked!

Word came down tonight from SFGate that the Hontalas family was awarded a new, 10-year lease on the restaurant effective December 1.

According to the article, Louis’ will need to close at the commencement of their lease for approximately 4 months to execute the improvements they outlined in their bid. But come Spring 2011, Louis’ will be rested, improved and ready to feed us again.

Congratulations to the Hontalas family and to all of their fans who worked so hard to show their support for a great San Francisco landmark.

Thanks to RichmondSFBlog reader Jean for sending in the great news.

Sarah B.

The corner booth at Louis Diner. Photo by roddh


  1. Great news! A hot meal, a cold Anchor, and a view of the baths blanketed in fog is just one of many things I love about living on this side of town. Congratulations to the Hontalas family.

  2. YEAH!!! I signed that petition in the Spring. So glad that the “system” actually worked out to insure a longer lease. I went to school with Kathy Hontalas and think it’s so great that this place survives!

  3. My girlfriend ( Leslie Ware) and I would stop in and have our favorite hamburgers and fries after school in 1971 thru 1973. And I will never forget the waitress,don’t know if it was your Grandma or Great grandma but the most darling lady always pushing the cheesecake in a heavy accent….so we would always get some cheesecake. Some days we would get it on the house. She knew we were just highschool kids and did have a lot of money. 40 some years later you are still the best!

  4. I’m so relieved to hear that you will be allowed to stay open, though the new changes are a bit draconian, but whatever it takes to keep Louie’s open. My granparents, Bob and Dorothy Valaris, used to go there when they began dating, and my family has been eating there ever since.

    Congratulations!! Let me know if you ever need volunteer help for anything.


  5. I’m happy to read about this. I was planning a trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco earlier this year, and in the course of looking up information about Louis’ Diner, which I wanted to revisit, I ran across the earlier entry on this blog. Of course I signed the petition. Though I’m from out of town, one of my co-workers, who grew up in San Francisco, is always singing the praises of this restaurant, and that’s how I found out about it when I first went there a few years back. I will look forwrad to stopping in again on my next visit to San Francisco!

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