Richmond District

A View of Louis’ Restaurant Through the Ages

By Gui Oliveira

“I was 10 years old back in 1968 and for 50 cents an hour I worked for my dad,” said Tom Hontalas, the current owner of Louis’ Restaurant. Hontalas grew up in the Outer Sunset District and for 41 years “held his own” working at his father’s restaurant, and like his father, Jim Hontalas, worked for his father and original owner, Louie Hontalas.

The history of Louis’ Restaurant brings a rich visual story of not just the location but also the people, friends, family, employees and even Adolph Sutro’s nephew who negotiated a deal with Louie and his wife Helen in opening up a cafe on the Point Lobos Avenue cliffside in 1936. Louis’ Restaurant was always famous for being a three-generation family-run diner with absolutely stunning views of Lands End Pacific coast.

“This restaurant gave me everything that I have and my brother too and many many other families” said Hontalas.

Historical photos courtesy of Louis’ Restaurant.

Louis Hontalas 1915

Elias Hontalas’ manifest document. His name appears halfway down towards the left.

Tom’s grandmother Helen Hontalas

John Hontalas, Louis and Helen’s first son.

Louis Hontalas (left), Jim Hontalas (middle) and an unidentified customer (right).

Rachel Lelchuk in 1962. She spent “more than 55 years” waitressing at Louis’.

View of Sutro Baths as seen from the interior of the restaurant.

Louis Hontalas.

The fire of June 26, 1966.

Louis and Helen Hontalas.

A cook and family friend wearing a metal bowl on his head, 1974.



Exterior of Louis’ Restaurant. July 2020. Photo by Gui Oliveira.


Tom and his sister Kathleen, July 2020. Photo by Gui Oliveira.


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