“It’s always sad to see a family owned business go out, and it’s one of the landmarks,” he said.
Wong joked that people used to say airplane pilots would use the giant green cactus as a landmark when headed to Logan Airport.
“It will be interesting to see what goes in there,” he added.
Town Manager Scott Crabtree said the family has made no mention of a redevelopment plan but he has reached out to them and offered to assist with any transition. It was unclear Thursday how many people would be put out of work.
“As a kid my aunt used to take me there every Monday for lunch,” Crabtree said. “I always ordered a hamburger and fries and they would put lots of cherries in my coke. “It’s a big loss for the town and personally.”
The letter from management states the closure is the result of a dramatic change in the volume of business, despite “tremendous” efforts to overcome it.
“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,” the letter reads. “We therefore have no choice but to close our restaurant.”
Selectman Stephen Horlick called it a sad part of Route 1’s changing landscape.
Former Saugonian Ray Lawrence said he, too, was sad to hear the news.
“I live in New Hampshire now and I tell people I’m from Saugus right near the Hilltop and they always say, ‘Oh, I know where that is,’” he said. “People all over the country know the Hilltop.”
Selectman Chairman Michael Serino called news sad but unsurprising.
“I’m not surprised they’re closing. I’m only surprised at how fast they did it and with no warning,” he said. “They sent us an email at 5:41 last night.”