Federal Shutdown And Possible BART Strike Throws Couple’s Wedding Plans Into Disarray

Caught between two government disputes is a San Francisco love story.

Andrea Gardenhire planned a wedding this Saturday to fiancé Dwayne Tatum at the famous Cliff House on the western end of the city, but the federal government shutdown has caused her to change the location of the event.

The Cliff House is a concessionaire for the National Park Service and was forced to shut down last week along with all “non-essential” federal services because Congress failed to pass a budget by Oct. 1.

The restaurant defied federal orders and reopened Monday and today, but is being forced by the government to close again starting Wednesday, manager Jaime Wong said.

Because of the uncertainty over whether the restaurant would reopen by this weekend, Gardenhire and Tatum decided to change the venue to McCormick and Kuleto’s in Ghirardelli Square.

But because she was also in the middle of moving to a new home, Gardenhire only found out earlier this week when she got her cable and Internet installed that BART workers could go on strike as soon as Friday.

The agency’s management and labor unions are in a 60-day cooling-off period that expires on Thursday night and have yet to reach a new contract agreement. A strike could cause traffic jams across the Bay Area as BART passengers are forced to travel on the region’s roads instead.

“I kind of just threw my hands up,” Gardenhire said. “Does no one in this universe want me to get married this weekend?”

Nevertheless, the wedding is moving forward at the new venue with guests being encouraged to use ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber, Gardenhire said.

The Cliff House was also helpful in keeping the couple informed of the latest updates related to the shutdown, while McCormick and Kuleto’s has quickly developed a new plan for the wedding, she said.

“We’re really appreciative that everyone’s kind of chipped in,” Gardenhire said. “The government’s not going to shut down our love.”

As for the Cliff House, they’re still working to help out other guests who had planned weddings and other special events for this weekend, said Wong, the restaurant’s manager.

“There’s some we’re holding out for, while some have found their own venues,” he said.

Wong said the restaurant’s employees are disappointed that they have to shut down again but “they’re taking it in stride and recognize the circumstances we’re in.”

He said the restaurant has gotten support from the community for reopening in spite of the shutdown, and encouraged people to come out before they shut their doors again at 9:30 p.m. today and remain closed until the federal shutdown ends.

“Come out, it’s a beautiful day out here,” Wong said, noting that the Cliff House offers half-priced wine with an entrée on Tuesdays.

“We’re staying strong out here,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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