Imagine looking out at a beautiful Boston skyline while enjoying a delectable meal in a room with classy, comfortable ambience. This is the dining experience at the Top of the Hub Restaurant and Lounge.
Despite its scenic venue and high quality experience, Top of the Hub is top on a list of popular Boston restaurants that will close on April 18, 2020. The corporation that owns and operates the restaurant, Select Restaurants, Inc., announced the intended closure on January 15. Other popular restaurants like No Name will also go out of business when Top of the Hub closes.
Top of the Hub sits on the fifty-second floor of the Prudential Tower in Back Bay, which lends itself to a beautiful view of the Boston skyline. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, late dinner, and Sunday brunch. The 190-seat lounge offers live music, while meals are served in the restaurant's white tablecloth, 145-seat main dining room. The Skywalk Observatory, also closing soon, sits just below the restaurant on the fiftieth floor. The attraction offers educational experiences for visitors interested in a fully narrated headset audio tour, and can also host up to 1,000 guests for corporate events.
The owners of the Prudential Tower, Boston Properties Inc., decided not to renew the Top of the Hub's lease, but the reasons behind this decision remain somewhat obscure. Rumors speculate that price plays a role, in addition to a potential decline in food quality—however, business rates seem to prove otherwise.
John Quagliata, Chairman of Select Restaurants, Inc., said in a press release that the closing is not due to a decrease in attendance or escalating property rents.
“Despite continued sales growth, a commitment to once again invest millions of dollars in the restaurant, and our heartfelt desire to operate the restaurant as we have for decades,” Quagliata said, “Boston Properties, Inc., chose not to extend our lease.”
The restaurant’s closing will have a greater effect than simply crushing future Valentine’s dream dates and corporate events everywhere: when the restaurant closes in April, more than 200 employees will lose their jobs. Perhaps with this in mind, Quagliata added, “We are respectful of our staff, our family, and we wanted them to learn the news directly from ownership and management.”
“The owners had provided us with several months of advance knowledge about the closing,” Rosanne Pickard Mercer, President of Mercer Public Relations, explains. She goes on to add,“The owners additionally provided job fairs following the announcement to make sure that their employees can look forward to future job opportunities.”
Over the years, the restaurant has earned numerous accolades and nominations, including Best Special Dining Occasion for the Boston A-List CityVoter Award of 2011, 2012, and 2016, and has even been featured on Food Network. Due to its prestige, the restaurant's strict dress code does not allow sleeveless shirts, hats for men, or baseball caps for women. By state law, you are not allowed to bring alcohol to the restaurant—interestingly enough, you can bring your own flowers but not your own cake. After 8pm, there is also a minimum spending of $24 for food and beverage per person.
With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the pressure is on to either set a final date at the restaurant or treat yourself with a solo visit before it closes. However, such a date would have to take place in March or early April— the restaurant is sold-out during the entire month of February.
What will the space become once Top of the Hub is gone? So far, the answer is somewhat cryptic, and a source speculates the space will become “an exciting new place for an observatory.”
While the restaurant’s imminent closing is sad news, the staff is prepared to exit on a strong note.
“Our long-tenured staff is making preparations to continue to welcome friends and clients over the coming months,” Alan Donatelli, President and Chief Operating Officer for Select Restaurants, Inc., said in a press release. “Our guests will continue to experience the exceptional food and hospitality they have... for more than 50 years.”
While they are understandably heartbroken at the news of closing, those at the restaurant are excited to savor their last moments with clients and friends before celebrating the end of 54 years as an iconic piece of Boston. Top of the Hub will remain top in our hearts and gone, but not forgotten.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 1/30 to reflect additional quotations from Rosanne Pickard Mercer.