Fishermen’s Grotto and Tarantino’s Are Suing the Metropolis of San Francisco

The owner of long-standing San Francisco restaurants Fishermen’s Grotto and Tarantino’s filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to regain lost revenue as well as for rent reimbursement, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The two restaurants closed in 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and eventually shuttered permanently after the Port of San Francisco moved to evict the restaurants in September 2023.

Herringbone Tavern Inc., which owns both Fishermen’s Grotto and Tarantino’s, claims the city of San Francisco failed to “maintain the character of Fisherman’s Wharf” pointing to the “increased homelessness population and criminal activity” as reasons for the two closures. The lawsuit also claims the city did not fix a crumbling seawall and cited earthquake risks among the reasons for breaching the restaurants’ leases. Herringbone claims it spent $2 million to renovate the spaces, which included making necessary accessibility upgrades and completing dry rot repair, the outlet reports. Herringbone seeks to regain that $2 million in renovation fees, plus an unspecified amount in damages.

Fishermen’s Grotto was established on the city’s wharf in 1935, soon followed by the founding of Tarantino’s in 1946. The two locations were locked into a 66-year lease and were in the 53rd year of the contract when eviction proceedings were initiated in 2023. Herringbone Tavern, Inc. owner Chris Henry — who also co-owns Tommy’s Joynt, another San Francisco restaurant legend, and Sausalito’s Barrel House Tavern — took over the restaurants in the last ten years.

When the Port of San Francisco sought to evict the two restaurants last fall, it claimed that the businesses owed $1.4 million in unpaid rent dating back to March 2020. The San Francisco Business Times reported then that Fishermen’s Grotto was open for a brief time, although Tarantino’s appeared to remain closed until the eviction notice. But it seems that Herringbone Tavern’s dues to the city have increased; a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s office told the Chronicle that the business now owes $1.7 million in back rent.

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