Sitting vacant atop a hill on Route 1 in Saugus for the past six years, the former Weylu's, an outsized, once opulent restaurant, is being demolished today.
At more than 50,000 square feet, Weylu's accommodated 1,500 people when Rick and Wilma Chang opened it in 1989 — but it didn't attract that many visitors each night, Boston Magazine wrote in a remembrance of sorts today. Costing $13 million (equal to about $25 million in today's money) and taking three years to build, the lavish restaurant fell into foreclosure in the late 1990s.
The property was sold in 2002 and became East Manor and then Near East Manor, both of which failed. New ownership opened Jin and a nightclub, Orchid, in 2006, but thanks to a series of tax violations, unauthorized construction, liquor violations, and violent incidents, it shuttered in 2009 and has been dark since. Late last year, North Shore photographer and Saugus native Brian Cummings ventured inside the dilapidated restaurant and shared some haunting photos.
Boston Business Journal reported the property was sold for $4.25 million in September 2013 — less than half its asking price — to Republic Properties, a development company that viewed the site as "strategic."
"We don’t know what the final mix will be. But we envision a mixed-use development that would include a hotel, retail, perhaps some office, multifamily and entertainment," the company's co-owner told BBJ in August 2014.
The redevelopment of the Saugus landmark follows the demolition of the once-famed Hilltop Steak House and also the announcement of a similar fate awaiting Route 1 Mini Golf, which has an iconic orange dinosaur keeping watch directly across the street from Weylu's hill.