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May 27, 2009 06:30 PM

A question for old-timers regarding Hugo's

Several ex-pat New Englanders were together recently and remembering all kinds of things from the Impossible Dream year forward. It was the predictable litany of things such as favorite HoJo's, Friendly's etc. and the night was proof posiive that the world has just gone-to-hell since those days. We got off onto the subject of Hugo's in Cohasset...the question is: when did Hugo's vanish? And , as a follow-up, what is there now? At one time, Hugo's was as iconic as Hilltop Steakhouse...this is no judgement on food quality, just a statement of fact.

While restaurant opprtunities in New England have come a long way since the 1950's & 60's et seq., there was a charm to those old stand-bys that the newer places just do not have (itseems to me). Anyhelp on this research issue is greatly appreciated.

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  1. I think I have found the answer:

    Some times things change for the better, some times for the worse. Restaurants are like people; some are great, others not so much. Some stay around a long time, some very short (many times this has nothing to do with greatness or lack thereof). The key is to find the great ones while they are still around and avoid the undesirables like the plague. Hence the real purpose of Chowhound.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bewley

      Many thanks....there is something comforting in the fact that someone has taken over the same schtick Hugo's was never First Rate in my view but at least it had a presence about it. I can still remember my last trip there in 1974...plastic lobster bibs that horrified my father, driving up to Boston in our "sea-foam green" Chevrolet Impala....dinner, that night, was at Locke-Ober. A year's worth of memories packed into one long day.

      Again, many thanks. I think I'll run over to Cohasset sometime and just "reflect."

      1. re: trufflehound

        Back in the 1960's there were 3 Hugo's eating establishments in Cohasset in very close proximity to each other. Hugo's Kimballs, a long grey building at the cove end of the harbor, was, for my family, the flagship of Hugos and was located in what are now harborside condos. Then there was Hugo's Lighthouse (which was in the same building as the link above). A little more casual than Kimballs but dressey on weekends. Finally, there was a small informal Hugo's Shack with both eat in and take out. My grandfather would take my parents and all my aunts and uncles to Kimballs every Saturday during the summer. All 10 people would sit at the same table every week. (The children would join the adults once a summer..what a special treat!) There was always a complementary relish tray with a tin of tomalley in the middle that would be scooped up onto crackers. Plus, sizzling platter of bay scallops. Then, chowder, steamers and then each person would get the "daily double", twin lobsters either boiled or baked stuffed. What they didn't finish they brought home for us kids to eat the next day.
        Hugo's Kimballs went condo in the 70's and Hugo Lighthouse carried on I think into the 80's and then turned into other less satisfying seafood establishments. But Hugo's during its day reigned supreme and is a great memory for me and my family. Boston had Jimmy's and Pier 4 but for us, Hugo's was the Boston area's great seafood palace of yore!

        1. re: Big Fat Moe

          I was thinking of the Lighthouse with the de rigeur decoration of fishing nets etc. Hadn't been out there since the 1970's but I think I could find it easily today. In Boston I preferred Jimmy's just cuz I liked the feel of the place...the old man in his desk/fortress with all the invoices and such stuck on those needle-file things.. Ate at Pier 4 a couple of years ago becuse it was the only place available on my way out of town from a long-overdue visit. It was just about what I wanted it to be...had the same feel of the 1960's and 1970's.

          thanks for the clarification

      2. Hadn't thought about Hugo's in years. I absolutely loved that place. In the summer we could take the boat right up to the dock and it was a huge treat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pegmeister

          Many years ago, a young man took his date to Hugo's prior to his leaving for Viet Nam. This young man told the hostess the story of how and why they were there for the evening. She, the hostess, seated them by a window over looking the bay at a table for two.The staff took very good care of this couple; as they sat and talked for over two hours after the restaurant part closed, and they continued to view out into night sky and the bay from their table. He doesn't remember what the dinner was, nor did he care, he was with one of the prettiest girls to come from his high school out of the class of 1969. The couple finally left the restaurant after they were told it was late. And they laugh when they saw it was only them left in the restaurant. The young man left several days later for Viet Nam. This date took place February 15, 1969. While in Viet Nam this young man ran into many others from this area who knew of Hugo's, and spent many hours repeating his story to them. The young man came home to this young woman in June of 1970. Hugo's Lighthouse will always be a special place in his memory of one of the best places to eat, and to this day he talks about it as if it was still there. He also wrote about it in his book, "A Wishful Love" to share with the world. It was not the quality of the food, but the quality of the staff, along with his date that evening that made Hugo's a lasting memory. Long live Hugo's so maybe others may share a special memory as he did.

        2. Hugo's very, very first American employer during the 4 weeks I visited the Tonis family in Hull mid 1970 as a young engineering student from Delft, the Netherlands, to explore the great US of A! Together with my friend Frans we started day 1 at the rate of 1.50 an hour... as dishwasher! We must have impressed the cook, Frank, with our kitchen organization and machine throughput scheduling skills as we received a whopping raise of 20% the next day! Commuting every day by bike from Hull to Cohasset and back worked wonders for my condition. Never did I have in my life so much lobster to eat - at breakfast, lunch and dinner and finishing up in the late evening with a tail or leftover claws that many guests apparently did not know how to crack. Two pics are enclosed - they are very precious to me.