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Prudential Tower’s Top of the Hub, Skywalk to close in April

The Top of the Hub restaurant at the Prudential Center, as pictured Wednesday.Erin Clark / Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Yet another old-line Boston restaurant is closing its doors, this one on the roof of the city.

The Top of the Hub, on the 52nd floor of Prudential Tower, will serve its last meals in April, the company that runs the restaurant said Wednesday. Along with it, the company will also close the Skywalk Observatory two floors below.

The upscale “jackets recommended” restaurant has been serving New England standards to tourists and special-occasion guests since the Pru opened 54 years ago. But the building’s owner, Boston Properties, didn’t renew its lease, according to John Quagliata, chairman of Select Restaurants Inc.

“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, Boston Properties chose not to extend our lease,” Quagliata said in a statement.


Instead, the landlord will take over both spaces, upgrade the aging observation deck for the “Instagrammable” age, and add amenities — which may include food, a Boston Properties spokeswoman said.

“Boston Properties is planning an exciting new design for an observatory at Prudential Center that will provide a world-class visitor experience,” said executive vice president Bryan Koop, who declined to say when the company planned to reopen the spaces.

Visitors got a bird's eye view of Hancock Tower, Fenway Park, and Boston Common, along with countless other Boston landmarks, at the Skywalk Observatory on Wednesday. Erin Clark / Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

However, enjoying the views at the top of the Pru doesn’t come cheap: The observatory costs $21 for adults, and $15 for children. And although the Top of the Hub has no entrance fee, dinner prices can run as sky-high as the restaurant’s views, from $38 for roasted salmon to the $55 range for some steak options. The cheapest glass of wine costs $10, and a Budweiser runs $6.50, according to an online menu.

From Anthony’s Pier 4 to Dur­gin Park to The No Name just last month, stalwarts of Boston’s traditional dining scene have been closing at a steady clip over the past few years. It’s a trend driven as much by aging owners and changing tastes as by rising rents and a tough restaurant industry, though Quagliata said business remained strong at the Top of the Hub.


The restaurant was always known more for its jaw-dropping vistas than its food; it was the kind of place you’d take out-of-town visitors who wanted to ride an ear-popping elevator 52 stories for the views, not where you’d experience a culinary revelation. (Despite this, the Globe offered a generally positive 2016 review, praising staples such as lobster rolls and strip steak.)

Visitors at the Top of the Hub on Wednesday. Erin Clark / Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

On Wednesday afternoon — even as managers briefed staffers on the restaurant’s closing ahead of the dinner shift — a few customers in the bar and lounge sat admiring the views, and taking selfies with the sky as a background.

Given its location, Top of the Hub is a unique place, the sort of restaurant that would inspire a regular pilgrimage. David Weden said he’s been going there annually for 30 years, for lunch with old friends, and, more recently, a holiday dinner with his family.

“It was never about the cost, the service, or the food, which has actually become much better in recent years,” Weden wrote in an e-mail.

And its closure — even if just temporary — highlights how few places there are in Boston for regular people to look down on the city from above. Ever since the observation deck of the then-John Hancock Tower closed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Top of the Hub and Skywalk, at the apex of the 750-foot tower, have been the highest spot in the city that’s open to the public, by a large margin.


Officials with the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which will likely need to approve Boston Properties’ plans, said they will insist that whatever goes into the space remains open to the public.

“The Prudential is an iconic tower in Boston and it is critical that public access to the observatory is maintained,” said BPDA director Brian Golden. “We look forward to continued conversations with Boston Properties.”

There are a few downtown towers with private clubs or function space on their top floors, such as the UMass Club in One Beacon and the State Room at 60 State St., but they’re not open to the general public. The top floors of new towers that have been built or planned in the city’s current building surge are mainly devoted to penthouse condos such as the one at One Dalton — just across from the Prudential — that sold for last week for $34 million.

Compared with that, even the Top of the Hub’s $45 scallops, or the $21 adult rate for entry to the Skywalk, might feel like a reasonable price for such a view.

On Wednesday afternoon, a smattering of visitors were wandering the Skywalk’s long hallways, peering down at the handsome street grids of the Back Bay and South End, and gazing out at Boston Harbor and the Blue Hills.


One of the people up there was Louise Sacco of Needham. She brought her twin 8-year-old grandsons into the city on a day they had gotten out of school early, and was pointing out MIT across the Charles, and Fenway Park just below the building.

“That’s why we came up here,” she said. “They wanted to see into Fenway.”

Kara Baskin and Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Tim Logan can be reached at Follow him @bytimlogan.