0408 Hilltop Cows
Courtesy of WS Development.
Three former Hilltop cows are now living in Lynnfield.
Thomas GrilloReal Estate Editor- Boston Business JournalEmail | Twitter
A prominent real estate developer has acquired three fiberglass cows that dotted the grounds of the now-defunct Hilltop Steakhouse on Route 1 in Saugus for more than 50 years and given them a new home in Lynnfield.
WS Development of Newton purchased the plastic mother and her two calves and are displaying them at MarketStreet Lynnfield, the Newton-based company’s 300,000-square-foot open-air mall on the North Shore.
“These cows have played a huge role in the identity and culture of the North Shore for so long,” said Michael McNaughton, senior vice president of asset management at WS Development. “And when I heard the cows were for sale, I thought it was a great opportunity to allow them to endure at MarketStreet on greener pastures. We jumped on the opportunity to acquire them.”
The cows were a mainstay at the landmark Hilltop, which closed last fall after years of declining sales. Founded in 1961 by butcher Frank Giuffrida, Hilltop became a go-to for affordable meals long before the debut of swanky steakhouses such as the Capital Grille, Smith & Wollensky and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse that came with $40 steaks and $10 baked potatoes. In 1989, the two-story, 20,000 square-foot restaurant reached its peak, grossing $60 million and serving more than 2 million customers.
Giuffrida later sold his stake in Hilltop in 1988 to businessman John Swansburg. But for years Giuffrida’s name stood in lights on a fiberglass cactus welcoming patrons. But the owners, citing a “dramatic change in the volume of our business” shuttered the restaurant last fall.
For the last few months, the cows have been undergoing a makeover at a fiberglass shop. McNaughton would only say the company spent “several thousand dollars” to buy and refurbish the cows. In preparation for today’s unveiling at MarketStreet Lynnfield, the family of three underwent extensive cosmetic surgery and will be on display year-round on a patch of grass in front of Pinkberry.