Hilltop Steakhouse

Hilltop Steakhouse (Photo credit: Marissa Babin)

Please Note:  This week’s special post will appear in all my blogs.


Back when I was younger in the 1970’s, our family would make the 2 ½ hour trip to Route 1 in Saugus Massachusetts to have lunch at the Hilltop Steakhouse Restaurant.  You never could miss this place.  It had fiberglass cows out front in a fenced in yard and a giant cactus sign out front announcing the restaurant’s name.


As the years wore on, we made fewer trips to the place as the lines usually were at least a 2 hour wait to be served.  One time the wait would have been nearly 3 hours so we decided not to stay and wait.  However, every time we did stay to have a meal we were never disappointed.


We had not gone to the restaurant in the last 10 years because nobody had the time to make the trip and waiting would be an all-day event.  When initially we heard that the place was closing down at the end of October, we decided to make a date to make that one last trek to the iconic restaurant for that one final (hopefully enjoyable, but sad) meal.


So this last Tuesday, we decided to make that drive from southern Maine to Saugus Massachusetts.  As we got closer to our destination, the anticipation of that last meal grew.


Then it happened.


We rounded up the hill on Route 1 and saw the giant cactus only to see the smaller sign before the large one saying “Open Until Oct. 20”.




The local newspaper stated that the place was to be open until the 29th.  Imagine our disappointment when we found the building abandoned with “Closed – NO TRESPASSING”  on all the windows.


Sadly, the cows were gone but the fence was still there.  For the first time for use, the parking lot was completely void of any vehicles at all.  So we left the empty parking lot and drove down the road a short distance to turn around and start that long journey back home.


Now, of course, I could have checked the restaurant’s website to tell that the place had closed.  Unfortunately, with the exception of an update to the butcher shop specials, this site has not been updated since 2008.  No mention of the closure could be found on the site anywhere.  I did not bother doing a search for the company as I expected the place to be opened until the end of the month as promised.


So in the end, no meal for me or our family.  But what happened to this company that always was very busy became a victim, according to the company, of a bad economy and a “dramatic drop” in customers based on competition from other places on the Route 1 highway.


However, this confuses me as many of the businesses on the nearby area were either crappy places, places long abandoned, or empty plots of land with new construction on them.  It makes me wonder if this place was sold out to some developer who wants to use it for something else.


This same sort of thing happened a few years ago when Miller’s restaurant in Bangor Maine was closed because the temporary home of Hollywood Slots wanted the location because it was across the street from the future location that they was building.  This also was a great restaurant of a buffet-style as opposed to a steakhouse variety.  A sports bar has since opened in the location after the casino moved out.


Of course, we didn’t know about that closing until we arrived there and found it closed.  It was during the in-between time when the restaurant had closed and the casino had moved in.  It was yet another disappoint that we had over the years for the “they aren’t there anymore” syndrome.


Yes, it was sad that I didn’t enjoy one last beef meal at the steakhouse, but never was unexpected given our luck over the years.  At least we have the internet to remind us of the pictures of what was one of the best meals ever had.


My score:  Incomplete


Summary:  If you didn’t make it before the closing like I did, then a great meal was missed.  If only anyplace, anywhere at all, could compete to what this place had to offer than I would say I would try it.  Goodbye cows.  So long cactus sign.  We hardly knew you.