Hs Lordships, site of numberless Berkeley lunches and meetings, will close on July 1, according to Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC), the owner. The restaurant opened on Seawall Drive, near the Berkeley Pier, in 1969. The 50-year lease that SRC had with the city was nearly finished.
“We want to end on a high note and honor Hs Lordships before it takes its final sail,” said John Tallichet, President and CEO, SRC. SRC owns operates 21 restaurants nationwide.
SRC notified the City of Berkeley of the closure this morning. According to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko, the city will be evaluating all the options for the property. Chakko also noted that city staff had proposed in the current budget process developing a masterplan and evaluation for the entire marina area.
Hs Lordships – often mistakenly called His Lordships – was one of the few venues in Berkeley that had room for hundreds of diners, so it has long been the go-to destination for gala lunches and other events. The Berkeley Public Schools Foundation annual lunch was held at Hs Lordships last Friday, May 11, and the annual Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Breakfast was held there every year.
Perched on the edge of the Bay, Hs Lordships offered unrivaled views of the water and the San Francisco skyline. But it also had a distinct feel of a long-gone era of banquet dining. In an East Bay restaurant scene where quality is highly valued and trends develop rapidly, Hs Lordships was left behind.
But from comments on Hs Lordship’s Facebook page, some people are saddened by the news.
“Hey crew we gotta go you know who you are let the planning begin,” wrote Darlis Manning.
“Our first date Josie,” wrote Brian Bonnet.
And an apocalyptic Jeanette Cott: “Everything good is closing.”
Its closure does mean that many community events will scramble for a new venue.
“I’m planning on contacting the mayor and the city manager to find out what the plans are,” said Erin Rhoades, Executive Director, Berkeley Public Schools Fund, which has held its annual lunch at Hs Lordships for the past 20 years, according to Rhoades. “My hope is they’re just going to find a new operator and make some upgrades.”
Rhoades said Hs Lordships was the only place where a non-profit could hold an economical community event for 500 people.
Laurie Capitelli, a former City Councilman who was a fixture at the Schools Fund and Berkeley Community Foundation lunches at Hs Lordships for many years, said he had his eye on the lease expiry for a long time.
“I’ve been trying to birddog this for the last 10 years,” Capitelli said. “I’d tell (former Mayor Tom Bates) 2018 is going to be here and we ought to be planning.”
Capitelli noted that multiple agencies and many interested parties are involved in the waterfront, so implementing any plans would be complicated even by Berkeley standards.
“It could be an incredible source of revenue for the city,” he said. “To let it lay fallow would be a tragedy.”
Hs Lordships will close with a celebration brunch on Sunday, July 1.