The Tonga Room: Probably Still Endangered After All

Even the preservation people aren't sure they want to set this precedent with a hotel bar.
Even the preservation people aren’t sure they want to set this precedent with a hotel bar. Photo: Pargon/Flickr

We were admittedly quick and not a little bit sensational with our earlier headline about the Tonga Room being saved, and now the Chron reports from yesterday’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission at which the place got a fairly damning report regarding it’s finances. “All might be forgiven if the Tonga Room was making money,” they say, “but, as the hotel owners told planners, the restaurant ‘has varied success and an inconsistent attraction mostly on weekends to transient hotel guests and some narrow local consistencies.’” We’re pretty sure they mean “constituencies,” but hoteliers have never been known for their big words.

And there were further concerns about the precedents being set in this case:

But other commissioners worried that fighting to save a hotel bar was moving far afield for people in the historic preservation business.

“We’re moving into dangerous territory to tell someone when they have to stay in business,” said Commissioner Alan Martinez.

If places like the Tonga Room become a concern of the commission, where does it end? asked Commissioner Karl Hasz.

“The first steak house in the city can never be touched?” he asked. “We’re going too far.”

The real public battle, however, comes after the commission drafts a letter detailing their concerns (both pro and con) to the Planning Commission, who will then hear public debate on the matter on June 10th.

Is the Tonga Room tiki bar in S.F. worth saving?
Earlier: The Full Case for Saving the Tonga Room [Grub Street]

The Tonga Room: Probably Still Endangered After All