Deetjen's restaurant

The Deetjen's Big Sur Inn restaurant got its start in 1939. The inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic and iconic Deetjen's Big Sur Inn is officially closing for an indefinite period of time, the leaders of its preservation foundation formally announced on Friday, Aug. 28.

"It is with great sadness and extreme disappointment that we announce the indefinite suspension of the operation of Deetjen's Big Sur Inn," the letter addressed to the inn's "loyal supporters, friends and lovers of Deetjen's" reads. 

"For more than half a century Deetjen's has been a community centered nonprofit dedicated to preserving the time and place of the homesteading era in Big Sur. You have celebrated your milestone anniversaries with us; you have celebrated family birthdays, you have slept here on your wedding night, you have written infinite words in the journals and you have never stopped loving the inn," it continues.

The Deetjen's Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation leaders said years of road closures, fires, floods and Covid-19 all contributed to the suspension. The inn suffered a 25 percent loss of revenue after four units were destroyed in the major winter storms of 2017.

The plan was to quit operations after Aug. 31, but smoke from the Dolan Fire to the south and the Carmel and River fires to the east caused the inn to shut down early, refunding guests who had already reserved and paid for stays there. Several employees working there will be laid off as of the end of September, says General Manager Matt Glazer.

"We hope for a day when Big Sur Inn will rise from these challenges and we all get to meet at the Inn once again," the foundation leaders write. "Cherish your memories of Big Sur; cherish your memories of Deetjen's."

The inn got its start in the 1930s after Helmuth and Helen Haight Deetjen began living in a tent beside Castro Canyon Creek, according to Deetjen's website. By 1939 a main building on the site was transformed into the restaurant. The inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Helmuth "Grandpa" Deetjen recreated architecture from his native Norway, which contributed to what is now known as the Big Sur style of building.

Some of the famous writers who have visited Deetjen's include Robinson Jeffers, Richard Brautigan, Henry Miller, Lillian Bos Ross, Eric Barker, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. Photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams also stayed at Deetjen's while creating their works of photographic art of Big Sur. Other artists have found inspiration there as well.

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