Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Food & Drinks
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Published on May 24, 2024
Fisherman's Wharf Landmark Eateries Sue San Francisco Over Closure, Cite Neglect and MismanagementSource: Google Street View

The clash between historic Fisherman's Wharf eateries and the City of San Francisco has escalated as Herringbone Tavern Inc., the owner of two long-standing joints forced to shut down, hits back with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against their landlord—the city itself. According to SFist, Chris Henry's company, which also boasts iconic Tommy's Joynt in its portfolio, launched the legal salvo last week, seeking damages for a slew of grievances, including the city's handling of homelessness, crime, COVID-19 lockdown orders, and even earthquake vulnerability due to a neglected seawall.

The eateries in question, No. 9 Fisherman’s Grotto and Tarantino's, are steeped in history, with their doors having first opened to the public in 1935 and 1946, respectively. The pandemic spelled doom for these dining institutions. The eviction notice followed after Herringbone reportedly skirted rent by $1.4 million. Now, they're pointing the finger at San Francisco's management, or lack thereof, of the Wharf's allure and safety, which they say tanked their business prospects. The San Francisco Chronicle details the suit's claim that investments of $2 million for renovations and fixes, including dry rot repair and updates to meet accessibility standards, were swallowed by a sea of city negligence.

The legal tussle isn't new territory for Herringbone Tavern Inc., which previously lobbed a lawsuit at the city's feet post-eviction in the fall, only to watch it crumble on a technicality—an ill-timed filing, according to reports. However, Fisherman's Wharf's woes haven't been selective. Names like Pompei's Grotto and Lou's Fish Shack, once anchored to the pier, said their farewells due to crushing back rent, while Alioto's, a fixture for a whopping 97 years, opted to duck out early following its COVID-induced closure.

"Over the last year, Herringbone has attempted a number of maneuvers to get out of paying the $1.7 million it owes the City in back rent. This appears to be yet another attempt," Jen Kwart said via the San Francisco Chronicle, a spokesperson for the City Attorney's Office, who expressed skepticism about the company's intent, vowing to scrutinize the latest lawsuit once served. The sentiment was echoed across reports, acknowledging the steady exodus of tourists caused by an uptick in homelessness and criminal activity in the Wharf area that has undeniably contributed to a tough trading environment.