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The Highlander: Remembering Hillsboro dining in the 1960s

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, now that we’ve had a steak and some Drambuie at Stanforth’s Steak House, where should we go next?

Today, we have Alley 21 and Highland Lanes in Hillsboro, but in the 1960s, there was the Highlander. Let’s take a short drive over to 972 West Main Street.

The Highlander Restaurant dates back to the early 1950s, and construction on the Highlander Bowling Lanes began in the summer of 1959. The restaurant was owned by Harold M. Day, and later by Mae Rosselott Means.

In June of 1954, the Highlander Restaurant officially opened its drive-in service, offering a free coffee or ice-cold lemonade to patrons. Back then, a Highburger served with French fries and slaw was 60 cents. A Highburger itself was 45 cents. A steak sandwich with fries was 75 cents, and a chicken sandwich with slaw and olives was also 75 cents.

A review of the Highlander Restaurant said, “You will find an extensive variety of foods deliciously prepared for your dining pleasure at the Highlander Restaurant. The menu offers steaks, chicken, chops and seafood, served to please you. Breakfast, lunch or dinner will be enjoyed when you are here. High recognition has been given to this excellent restaurant for its fine food and good service. You are invited to visit their cocktail lounges, too. Banquet rooms are available for private parties or business meetings. You will appreciate the splendid atmosphere and pleasing décor presented by the Highlander Restaurant.”

In early 1961, the restaurant was completely remodeled, but not necessarily because the owners wanted to do so. On Feb. 1, 1961, it was reported that, “Fire of an undetermined origin caused several thousand dollars damage at the Highlander Restaurant on West Main Street in Hillsboro. Hillsboro firemen were summoned to the scene at 4:37 a.m. and fought the stubborn blaze for nearly three hours. Damage was confined to the restaurant, the adjoining Highlander Bowling Lanes escaping with minor smoke damage. Heat, smoke and water damage will be extensive, firemen indicated. The blaze had apparently been burning for some time when it was discovered.”

At the grand reopening on March 24, 1961, there were “free gifts for the ladies” at the “completely remodeled and beautifully furnished Highlander Restaurant.”

As mentioned earlier, plans for the construction of a “modern, 12-lane bowling alley” were announced in August of 1959. It was reported at the time that “the building would have a modernistic front and in addition to the lanes, would contain a large conference room, a day nursery, locker rooms, dressing rooms and accompanying facilities … The interior itself will be finished in a blue and white color scheme and will contain the latest in bowling equipment, much of it of entirely new design. Automatic pin spotters by the AMF firm will be featured in the lanes.”

Do you remember the Highlander Bowling Lanes? As many of you recall, it only lasted about a decade as fire destroyed the bowling alley on Sunday, Aug. 31, 1969. Firefighters did manage to save the Highlander Restaurant, which only suffered some smoke and water damage, due to the firefighters doing “a terrific job at risk of life and limb” in stopping the blaze in the passageway between the alleys and the restaurant.

One year later, tragedy struck again as Highlander Restaurant owner Mrs. Mae Rosselott Means was struck and killed by a car in Pickaway County. She was 64. Earlier in the evening, she had attended a meeting at the Highlander Restaurant and was returning to her home in Upper Arlington. She had reportedly stopped to buy fruit at a roadside stand north of Mount Sterling near the village of Derby before being fatally struck. She was also the owner and operator of Hillsboro Farmers Exchange for many years.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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