By Dan Adams Globe Correspondent,September 16, 2015, 10:14 a.m.
Weylu’s, the massive former Chinese restaurant in Saugus once renowned for its lavish dining rooms, is now the latest Route 1 landmark to fall to the wrecking ball.
Demolition of the 1,500-seat restaurant, which thrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s, began Wednesday, when construction crews started tearing open the roof.
The owner, Republic Properties Inc., plans to replace the crumbling icon with a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, residences, and retail shops. Weylu’s fate mirrors the recent demolition of the nearby Hilltop Steakhouse, a similarly beloved restaurant on the faded Route 1 commercial strip whose 68-foot-tall cactus sign now towers over an empty concrete lot.
Weylu’s was once an opulent destination for local diners. Its final location, built for $13 million from 1986 to 1989, was outfitted with flourishes like an indoor waterfall and hand-painted Chinese vases.
But the restaurant closed in 1999 after business slowed and the Bank of China foreclosed on the property. Several other restaurants opened in the space but all failed. The building was abandoned for good in 2009, and quickly fell into disrepair, set upon by vandals.