"Seventy-three, two-fifty-five, eighty, Sioux City In The Sky..."
April 29, 2015 9:09 PM   Subscribe

We'll always have "Live Poultry Fresh Killed."
posted by escabeche at 9:16 PM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

posted by Fnarf at 9:26 PM on April 29, 2015

posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:27 PM on April 29, 2015


They should relocate the cactus so the Orange TRex at Rt 99 can ride it into the sunset.
posted by drowsy at 9:37 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

posted by Mblue at 9:39 PM on April 29, 2015

We will always have
The Ponderosa (tall pines)
Free refills and butter pats
Bibs and walls adorned with glue
Coiled ropes and blunt long horns.

And partner is more then a riding term.
posted by clavdivs at 9:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh, that redesigned menu. Get a rope.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:58 PM on April 29, 2015

is Kwoloon (sp) still there?
posted by PinkMoose at 10:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

In other news, The 68 foot cactus from the old HillTop Steakhouse had gone missing until an observant New Hampshire state trooper stopped two suspects currently under arrest. Mr. Ellert is wanted in the theft of the Paul Buyuns' Ox "babe" somewhere in south central Minnesota.
posted by clavdivs at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

> is Kwoloon (sp) still there?

Kowloon's is still there.
Kowloon's parking lot is where Louis CK received his revelation about standup from George Carlin.
posted by not_on_display at 10:15 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by SillyShepherd at 2:34 AM on April 30, 2015

Wow, that is definitely an icon gone.

Removes hat, moos solemnly, lower eyes.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:17 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

It was definitely some industrial-strength assembly line going on there. I was told that (at least many years ago) they wouldn't open a dining room until they had enough people to fully fill it. Which, since at the time the hostess desk was very close to a bar, made them a hell of a lot of money.

When I was growing up, we'd occasionally buy big chunks of meat at the butcher shop in the back. I'd never actually seen people cut my steaks to a specified size/thickness before with a bandsaw.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:24 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

From that Wikipedia page, Tavern on the Green is the second largest restaurant in the country???
posted by smackfu at 4:22 AM on April 30, 2015

In 1986 my boyfriend's Grammie won a lottery at her credit union for a free dinner for 20 at the Hilltop. Jeezo, what a big that was for us! Only time I ever went.
posted by beccaj at 4:54 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

We'll always have "Live Poultry Fresh Killed."

Even this is an endangered species. A couple of months ago, Mayflower Poultry announced that they were going to only take orders for fresh-killed poultry like once a week. Although I suspect the sign isn't going away any time soon.
posted by briank at 4:59 AM on April 30, 2015

It's so sad to see. The Hilltop was an institution when the Guiffridas still owned it and ran their own cattle ranch, but the quality went downhill as the traditional steakhouse went out of fashion in the 90s and early 2000s. Nowadays, I could see a company purchasing the place and re-opening it as a bit of nostalgia (if it hadn't been torn down), but you just couldn't beat it for a big steak with a few trimmings back in the day.

I remember when you used to have to bring your own sour cream in if you wanted that on your potatoes because Frank Guiffrida (the original owner) hated sour cream and wouldn't allow it to be served in his restaurant.

Also, the numbers that were called for each dining room were totally random. So if you had number 331, it bore no relation to numbers 332 or 330. Your ears would perk up when you'd hear something close to your number, and then you'd sink back down on one of the outdoor porch benches (enclosed by thin glass in the winter, but still freezing) to await another half-hour or whatever for your number to be called. That hint of excitement was possibly one of the most brilliant strategies a restaurant has ever employed. You always thought you were this close to being called next.
posted by xingcat at 6:23 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

I only ate there once, when I was a kid. I kind of wished I'd re-visited as an adult. But Ken's is still alive and kicking in Framingham if I ever want to eat a steak like it's 1963.

Remember when someone cut the heads off the cows and WBCN's Mark Parenteau arranged for them to be returned? Some auto body shop re-attached them for free. Good times.

That whole section of Rt. 1 is Saugus was something to see. Our own version of the Las Vegas strip, only not really.
posted by bondcliff at 6:36 AM on April 30, 2015 [9 favorites]

One day I actually met the woman who for years was the one calling out those random numbers. It was like meeting a sports figure or TV star.
posted by Gungho at 6:55 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Don't forget the nearby variously-named-but-always-Asian restaurant on top of a bigger hill; 60,000 sq ft and seating 1,300. Still standing but vacant these many years.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:56 AM on April 30, 2015

That whole section of Rt. 1 is Saugus was something to see.

Was is the most important word in this sentence. What used to be a wonderland of ENORMOUS, wonderful and kitschy businesses is now just another row of national chains.

(As I kid, I was totally fascinated with The Golden Banana - could not imagine what it might be, and nobody would explain it to me. Pretty sure that's gone too, replaced by the Sonic.)
posted by anastasiav at 7:18 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

Susan Orlean wrote about the Hilltop in one of the essays in Saturday Night.
posted by brujita at 7:42 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

That stretch of Route 1 was where I grew up. Please bear with me while I reminisce, or feel free to scroll quickly past.

- I learned to read via the many and varied ESTABLISHMENT SIGNS, neon and otherwise, that flew by the window as my mom was shuttling me from Peabody to Revere every week to see my grandparents.

- I learned to drive on that road -- and as those of you who have driven that road can attest to, it's a challenge. Three lanes in each direction, everyone going 60, barely any room to accelerate or decelerate when entering or exiting one of the many parking lots or turnoffs.

- It was written up in the 1970's (maybe in Playboy magazine) as one of the top ten adult entertainment destinations in the US, due to its strip clubs and massage parlors. My friend's dad ran one of them! Most of them went away in the 1980's. DB's Golden Banana still stands tall and firm!

- I grew up about 500 yards behind the aforementioned Golden Banana. As a kid, we used to walk through the woods and end up near the back of DB's, just because, what will you see? There was always some rumor in the neighborhood of what someone saw at the back of the Golden Banana. (I never saw anything.)

- I worked for two years at the self-serve Texaco next to the Diner, about 200 yards away from the Golden Banana. (TUESDAYS ARE LADIES NIGHT!!)

- I learned to play billiards on Rte. 1. Where, you ask? BILLIARDS.

- I went to the batting cages at the Orange T-Rex Mini-golf, but the mini-golf itself was horrible.

- I told my mom that she was going to be a grandma over buffet at Weylu's.

- Rockit Records was the first record store I discovered that sold used cassettes.

- The Leaning Tower of Pizza, where we'd get a slice many a bored teenager night.

- And when I was a kid and my parents or grandparents would take me to Hilltop, it was always the most fun dining experience by far. They even served me a bowl of whipped cream for dessert every time I went. The anticipation for your number to be called was so unbearably wiggle-in-your-seat exciting.

- Inside local joke between me and my 1980's BBS friends: godfrieds. Godfrieds. GODFRIEDS!!

- Bought my first guitar at Cincottas, right behind Karl's Sausage Haus.

- Teen nerd BBS meetups at Kowloon... where they rarely carded you for alcohol.

- Eating subs with my dad at Santoro's, which was one of my favorite neon signs there.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of other stuff, too. I moved away from the Nawth Shawh long ago, and each time I visit the area, something else seems to have closed up. But this one especially punched me in the gut, just because it was so engrained in my childhood experience. Every time we'd drive up that section where the hill gets steep, and then I'd see the cactus and the cows, I would ask my parents canwego canwego pleeeease! My dad would say, every time, "Hey, did you know that I know Frank Guiffrida?"
posted by not_on_display at 8:31 AM on April 30, 2015 [18 favorites]

Mrs. P and I only discovered the Hilltop in 2011, and loved it, but then we've always been suckers for the steakhouse experience. This may be why we moved 5 minutes away from Ken's.

posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2015

I think there was a place called Busters on that road that had a mechanical bull. We had a company Christmas party there and I still have a scar over my eye from when I drunkenly missed a high five and slammed my head into a chair on the follow-through.

Oh yeah, I was pretty cool back then. Still am.
posted by bondcliff at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of other stuff, too

We went on one of our first dates there! Maybe our first real DATE date.
posted by jessamyn at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

We went on one of our first dates there! Maybe our first real DATE date.

I had to be sure that you were, like, coooool, ya know? (You passed with flying colors.)
posted by not_on_display at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by Gotanda at 6:25 PM on May 3, 2015

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