09 Apr Sky Top Steakhouse, Kingston, New York
Skytop Steakhouse, here to delight, then gone.
We’ve owned a home in the Hudson Valley since 1985, starting out as weekenders from New York City, now full time residents. There has been almost no landmark as iconic to Kingston, New York as the giant Skytop Steakhouse neon sign that beckoned travelers for years as they approached Exit 19 on the New York State Thruway. People looked on sadly in recent years as the word “Skytop” was no longer lluminated and the owners just kept the word “Steakhouse” lit up.
I had wanted to paint this local sign for years, so one evening while driving by at dusk I turned the steering wheel and up up up the hill I went, trudged through the snow around to the front of the sign, being very careful not to fall off the cliff, and snapped a few good shots! I painted it as a diptych to have fun with the two three letter words, and when I showed the painting the first time, the locals went crazy for it shouting “Skyto!”
I was curious to know more about the history so here’s what I’ve discovered from several articles in the Kingston Daily Freeman:
“The original Skytop was built in 1959 and officials have described the property as one of Ulster County’s best-known landmarks with impressive views of the lights of Kingston. In a 1981 newspaper article, the view was described as an ‘unbeatable panorama from a hilltop site overlooking the Hudson River Valley.’ Of the culinary offerings, the article stated: ‘Its beef and seafood broiled over a flaming charcoal pit are hard to beat.’”
The Lo Bianco family ran the place from 2005-2012, investing close to a million dollars to get it up and running, as it had been sitting empty, abandoned since 1993. They had their share of ideas about how to make it work, having run it as a microbrewery for years. But under the management of Tim Alles, they focused more on good food and service. They also refurbished the “Steakhouse” sign and locals loved seeing it blazing through the darkness at night.
Sadly now the Skytop is closed and the owners of the motel on the property don’t illuminate the sign anymore. Another one bites the dust. So sad.
Here’s a video clip from the Daily Freeman from 2012 when they refurbished the sign.
Oil on canvas, 72×36″