Restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf are crying foul after the San Francisco Chronicle suggested that they pocketed some $600,000 in parking fees that were supposed to go to the city. This morning's story led with news that the city is investigating restaurants including Alioto's, Tarantino's and Fishermen's Grotto, who a controller's audit (PDF) says failed to report $591,486 in "unsupported revenue and expense overcharge" from a port-owned parking lot that they manage. But in a follow-up story in the blog City Insider this afternoon, the restaurants flatly denied that they skimmed the cash.
"We never controlled the money," Nick's Lighthouse">Nick's Lighthouse owner Jeffrey Pollack, a member of the Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant Association, told the Chron in the follow-up piece. "You're dealing with 11 honest people... How are you going to get all these guys to do this? It doesn't happen in the real world." In the initial story, Pollack called the audit "baseless, libelous and slanderous," but wasn't quoted denying the skimming charge. What exactly he told reporters John Coté and Robert Selna, we still don't know (we left a message with him this afternoon so we'll update you when we hear more). It's an easy bet, however, that those two names aren't the most popular at Fisherman's Wharf right now. They might want to get their clam chowder elsewhere for a while.
Wharf restaurants short port on fees, audit says [SF Chronicle]
Wharf restaurants: We didn't take parking money [City Insider/SF Gate]