Tony Meriano of Revere, Massachusetts, remembers the heyday of Weylu's, the 1,500-seat palace of Chinese dining and cocktails that opened in Saugus in 1989 after three years of construction that cost $13 million.
"Opening night, you had to actually wait out front over here to get your car valet [parked], to even get into the restaurant, and it was about an hour - people waited an hour and a half to get in there," Meriano said. "It was a beautiful, beautiful building inside. Artwork, waterfalls."
But a financially overextended Weylu's shuttered its doors in 1998, and attempts to reuse the site for Asian restaurants failed and a short-lived nightclub drew gang violence and repeated police visits before it, too, shut down. Vandals looted, destroyed, and spray-painted what was left.
Wednesday, Meriano was among several North Shore residents coming by to watch as crews went to work ripping down the three-story, pagoda-topped restaurant complex. Developer Anthony DiNanno of Republic Properties in Malden is still working out details with town leaders, but said, "We're looking forward to creating some new development here. Maybe some hotels, mixed-use. We're still in the planning stages."
One vision involves blasting out hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of rock and dirt to create a redevelopment "pad" down at the same level as the northbound lanes of Route 1, instead of up on a steep hill. Counting adjacent acreage in the city of Revere, DiNanno said his team now has nearly 45 acres of undeveloped or redevelopable land along Route 1.
With videographer Darrell Smith