I am one of four siblings, and with six at the table during dinner when I was growing up, things could get rowdy at times. Upon seeing a display of shocking manners, my father would shake his head and say, “You’ll never get to the General Glover that way.”
For years, the General Glover remained a mythic place in our minds—a posh eatery we were sure to be kicked out of. However, like many who lived on the North Shore, we did end up going to the General Glover for various celebratory meals over the years.
Named after the famed Revolutionary War general who was born in Salem and lived in Marblehead, the General Glover was an upscale steak house on Route 1A in Swampscott. It was opened in 1957 by restaurant legend Anthony Anathas. (Anathas opened Anthony’s in Lynn in 1937 and Hawthorne by the Sea in Swampscott in 1946. He would go on to open Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston in 1963.)
Theme restaurants flourished across American roadsides in the 1950s, and the General Glover reflected New England’s favorite theme: the colonial inn. The vast Essex Room featured a huge fireplace, seascapes, and exposed beams hung with all manner of lanterns and copper pots. As kids, we loved that the waitresses were dressed in colonial style, with long dresses and aprons topped by a frilled white cap.
During meals, there was a battalion of those waitresses making their way around the dining room offering various foodstuffs from baskets or trays. The popovers were legendary—fresh, hot, and crisp. The menu consisted of standard steak house fare, and I recall everything being quite good, especially the prime rib, but those popovers are forever remembered as a paragon of baked goods.
The General Glover closed in the late ’90s, and the building has been standing derelict ever since. The Anathas family still owns the property and sporadically uses some of the buildings on it, but the restaurant stands as a deserted reminder of the past. Walking by it recently, we saw the old captain’s chairs stacked by a window, ghosts of the once memorable Essex Room.
Fortunately, the building hasn’t become a hazard like its counterpart in Lynn. City officials have been trying to get the Anathas family to address the crumbling vacant building that once housed the original Anthony’s and has become a danger to pedestrians. It’s mystifying that they have let these properties fall into disrepair.
While I have no idea what the future holds for the General Glover House property, I am happy I that had a chance to be a part of its past.