San Francisco: Alioto's at Fisherman's Wharf closing after 100 years


Food will no longer be served at one of San Francisco’s most popular seafood restaurants, Alioto’s. The iconic eatery, which has been open since 1925, has shut its doors for good. 

Unlike other dining spots, Alioto's never reopened after the initial pandemic shut down, and it appears it never will.

Alioto’s now joins the Cliff House and many other restaurants that did not survive the pandemic.  It’s one of San Francisco’s oldest restaurants and has been a popular destination at Fisherman's Wharf.

After nearly a century in business, the family-owned eatery is ending a 66-year lease with the Port of San Francisco, about 14 years before expiration, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  It’s another COVID casualty.

"It's very sad but such a long-term historic family and location has decided to be no more," said Taylor Safford, CEO of Pier 39. "I'm sure it was a really tough decision for the family." 

Robert Conso, who works next door at The Grotto, said he spent three years at Alioto's before the pandemic shutdown.

"That was quite an institution. Sadly, it’s gone like many other places," said Conso.

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The restaurant was a draw to Fisherman's Wharf, a tourist area that’s still struggling to regain its pre-pandemic prominence. Even tourists can see that it’s not the same place.

"It’s sad that things are closing down.  I figured that we would come out here this weekend and would find a lot more people than are here," said Richard Bassett from Utah.

Pier 39, the neighbor to Fisherman’s Wharf, has only lost five tenants since the pandemic, three of them restaurants.  The Pier’s CEO says the loss of Alioto's could be an opportunity to rethink what new businesses the area needs.

"It has been a very heavy food-oriented area," said Safford. "Largely restaurants are the number one attraction to the area by far, and I think there should be a broader mix of uses."

Tourists are what’s needed most right now, especially foreigners from Europe and Asia, who bring in the dollars to help businesses not just survive, but thrive. They are starting to return.  

Tim Murray from Transtyle Transportation just bussed in a small group from Poland, in addition to a previous group from France.

"It’s been two years since we’ve been doing this," said Murray. "The borders were closed so all European tours were canceled and now they’re just starting up. Last week was my first one since COVID."

And more are expected through summer, helping San Francisco regain its footing.

As for Alioto’s, insiders tell us, before deciding to end their lease, the owners tried to sell the restaurant, but couldn’t.