CFAH

Julius' Castle 2014

Arguing that the operation of Julius’ Castle hasn’t been abandoned but rather “discontinued for a substantial period of time,” a little over seven years to be more exact, the new owner of the landmark Telegraph Hill building has appealed the City’s determination that it can no longer operate as a restaurant and will need to return to residential use.

Julius’ Castle served its first meal out of the former residence in 1922 and had been operating as a legal “nonconforming use” up until 2007, at which point the restaurant was shuttered amid allegations of landlord fraud and un-permitted renovations.

Purchased by way of a bankruptcy sale in 2012, a number of the aforementioned permit issues remain “despite diligent efforts by the current owner to restore the building and return the restaurant to operation” and the restaurant has never re-opened.  And unfortunately for the new owner, San Francisco’s Planning Code states that a nonconforming use will no longer be allowed if it’s been abandoned for a period of three years.

According to the appeal, it would be “unfair to the current owner and adverse to the best interests of the residents of San Francisco to conclude that Julius’ Castle was no longer authorized to operate as a restaurant.”  San Francisco’s Board of Appeals is slated to issue their decision this week, and it’s not looking good for the Castle.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Is a restaurant even a profitable use of this location? It seems like the owner earn more converting this to residential.

  2. Posted by anon$random

    agreed. why would they want to run a restaurant when they could renovate and cash in…

  3. Posted by Xman

    Have they thought about turning it into batting cages?

  4. Posted by Andrew

    This place is a cute little gem! The food was never all that great in the past, but I have wonderful memories of visiting it. I hope they get a chance to reopen — it is kind of magical and hope they can reopen it as it is classically San Franciscan and best shared with the public.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      I agree. Having never visited Julias’ Castle when it was operating I too would like the opportunity to eat a mediocre meal with a great view. What is it with viewRestaurants? They almost universally have unremarkable food. The only exception that I know of is the Rainbow Room in the Rockefeller Center.

      My previous comment was just trying to understand why the owner is dead set on reopening the restaurant. It doesn’t seem to make financial sense.

  5. Posted by carpezeitgeist

    The castle could switch back to residential and help solve the foreign oligarch housing shortage in SF.

    • Posted by NoeValleyJim

      Yeah but then they would have to deal with THD. And who wants to do that?

  6. Posted by Dan

    How could the city mess up the opportunity to keep this great bit of SF? Families, couples remember meals there. I remember a wedding on the balcony… I even Googled to see if I could rent the venue for my own wedding. Rejected, it becomes just another private residence.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      I agree that this is the type of quirky treasure that people fall in love with. I wouldn’t blame the owners for just turning it into a private residence, but as they seem to want to do a restaurant, they should be allowed to. Sometimes a non-conforming use is OK.

  7. Posted by Luna

    This historic landmark is the ideal location for a fantastic restaurant now. I couldn’t be more sad to see it abandoned and unlikely to return to its roots.

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