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Owners of San Francisco's Cliff House Restaurant Sue Insurers

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Owners of the Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco announced Wednesday they are suing the insurance firm Allianz and its affiliates, claiming the companies didn't honor the national park concessionaire's business interruption policy. 

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court, Dan and Mary Hountalas said they closed the Cliff House temporarily on March 16 to comply with emergency orders imposed to stanch the coronavirus pandemic, but Allianz and its affiliates refused to cover their resulting losses.  

For 47 years, the Hountalases have run the Cliff House concession, which sits on San Francisco's western edge and overlooks the ocean. They laid off nearly all 185 of their employees amid the pandemic, according to a statement they released Wednesday about their case. 

READ MORE: Chez Panisse Suing Insurance Company

"The Cliff House has survived earthquakes, fires, and flooding and we will survive this as well," Mary Hountalas said in a statement. "That is why we took out insurance for business interruptions and the insurance companies should honor their obligations under the policy."

Brian Danitz, one of the attorneys representing the Cliff House and its owners, said the insurance companies were "raising a host of baseless excuses to deny the claims."

Danitz said, "Restaurants and other businesses suffering in this pandemic are fed up with being taken advantage of by insurance companies that charge exorbitant premiums and have no intention to cover claims."

Officials with Allianz were not immediately available Thursday to comment on the lawsuit.

The Cliff House lawsuit comes a few weeks after famed East Bay restaurant Chez Panisse filed a similar lawsuit against its insurers, claiming its they wrongfully denied coverage for losses resulting from government-mandated public health shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chez Panisse founder and owner Alice Waters told KPIX earlier this month that she was shocked when her carrier told her any financial loss caused by a virus is excluded from the coverage.

"I don't sue people easily. I don't believe in it," said Waters, who opened her restaurant in 1971.

Waters added that she's had business interruption insurance since the 1980s and noted it is which is different from the average business insurance policy.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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