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Iconic Hilltop Steakhouse To Close

Management cited changing demographics and increased costs among the reasons for the closure. (Flickr/Elizabeth Thomsen)

Management cited changing demographics and increased costs among the reasons for the closure. (Flickr/Elizabeth Thomsen)

After 52 years, the iconic Hilltop Steakhouse on Route 1 in Saugus is closing.

The restaurant’s managers have notified the Saugus Board of Selectmen that the restaurant, known for its 70-foot cactus, plastic life-size cows, thick steaks and western-themed decor, will close Sunday, Oct. 20.

In their letter, the managers note that they have seen a “dramatic change” in the volume of their business over the past several years. They also cite changing demographics, increased competition and higher costs as reasons for the closure. A related business, the Hilltop Butcher Shop in Weymouth, will stay open.

At its peak in the late 1980s, Hilltop Steakhouse was the nation’s busiest and highest-grossing restaurant, serving 2.4 million customers and making an estimated $27 million a year.

As The New York Times put it in 1988, “On a typical Saturday, the Hilltop, a sprawling Ponderosa that accommodates 1,300 carnivores, rustles up about 7,800 meals.”

Share your memories of the marbled steaks and dining rooms with names like “Sioux City” while WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer discusses the folklore of Hilltop and the changing restaurant landscape with a long-time food writer.


Corby Kummer, senior editor at The Atlantic and a James Beard Award-winning food writer

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Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

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