Later this month, Route 1 in Saugus may be down one 68-foot-tall cactus (and a few fake, life-sized cows). Founded in 1961, Hilltop Steak House is rumored to be shutting its doors on October 20th, as reported by a number of news outlets and social media channels. No one has been able to squeeze an official response from the restaurant yet, and at least one Hilltop employee has taken to Twitter to say that she found out about the closure from Facebook. (The closure is now confirmed; see update below.)
In its heyday, Hilltop was the place to go for steak. Large parties would wait an hour or more to hear their assigned number and city called — 52, 48, 21 for Sioux City! 36, 45, 18 for Carson City! Its best year was 1989, grossing $60 million, reports the Boston Business Journal via the Christian Science Monitor. But the restaurant has seen a decline since then, and its Braintree outpost closed about six years ago. Twitter is abuzz with reactions to the impending closure:
a sad day for the north shore and fine people of saugus. they better not get rid of the mini golf dinosaur. http://t.co/fUJOC4XLXT— dan (@capndannn) October 10, 2013
Hilltop Steakhouse is closing? My grandmother is going to be distraught #RIPHilltop— A-Mac (@BankAMac) October 10, 2013
I blame the vegetarians. RT @GlobeBobRyan: The Hilltop is closing? Next thing you'll tell me is that Arnie The Woo is no longer on the air.— Chris Gorski (@gorskic) October 10, 2013
My dad carved my initials in the window at Hilltop Steakhouse in like 1994. I think they are probably still there.— Ben Goodman (@BenGoodman) October 10, 2013
My parents had one of their first dates at #HilltopSteakHouse sooooooo am I even really here right now? http://t.co/Z0vv8vunBQ— Ratty (@HeyRatty) October 10, 2013
man a 50,000 square foot steakhouse on the side of a death highway just can't survive any more. http://t.co/hbsW3KeyKm via @BostonBizNews— Mike Fuller (@fullermj) October 10, 2013
If Donald Wong doesn't move swiftly to preserve the giant cactus outside of the Hilltop I will consider a run for his Saugus seat. #mapoli— Pete Christopher (@Pete_Christophe) October 10, 2013
UPDATE: The closure has been confirmed by the Saugus Advertiser (h/t to Boston Restaurant Talk for noticing this.) The restaurant sent a letter to the Board of Selectman yesterday that read, in part:
"Over the past several years we have seen a dramatic change in the volume of our business. Tremendous efforts have been made over this period by our management and staff with the cooperation of the town to make improvements and overcome this decline.Meanwhile, Hilltop's butcher shop in Weymouth will remain open.
However, the continued change in the demographics of our customer base, increased competition and the increased cost to run this fabulous landmark has been too great to overcome. We therefore have no choice but to close our restaurant."
· Wanna buy a 70s cactus? Hilltop Steak House reportedly closing [BBJ]
· Hilltop Steak House [Official Site]