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At a Glance

Quote from "Revolutionary Restaurants," by Charles W. Ebeling
Invention & Technology Magazine
Spring 2007 Vol. 22, Issue 4

 

How the idea of the revolving restaurant was perfected technologically by John Graham:

It was an intriguing idea, but not a simple one. How could it be managed? At first glance the way to do it seemed to be to install the restaurant in a separate round casing on top of the main building and rotate the entire structure. But that introduced serious engineering problems. The load to be carried would be excessive, as would the forces created by wind. The alternative was to rotate only the dining area, keeping the peripheral walls, the ceiling, and the central service areas stationary. This approach would have its own challenges, including figuring out the speed of rotation people could handle while dining and stepping on and off rotating areas.

Graham’s engineers proceeded to design a 16-foot-wide cog-driven turntable, ring-shaped like a doughnut. Unlike smaller turntables and merry-go-rounds, it couldn’t be powered from a central shaft, for the center of the ring wouldn’t be rotating. Rather the doughnut would be mounted on flanged wheels riding on a circular track under its flooring. Food would be prepared in a kitchen on the floor below and elevated to the immobile central service area by a dumbwaiter. La Ronde opened in 1961, and in 1964 Graham obtained the first U.S. patent for a revolving restaurant.

 


 

Revolving Restaurants of the USA

Alabama

Arizona

California

  • BonaVista Lounge
    Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites

    404 South Figueroa Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
    213-624-1000
  • Revolving Restaurant, Renaissance Hotel, Hollywood. (Closed.)
  • Equinox, Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, San Francisco, California. (No longer revolving.)
  • Revolving Restaurant, Sheraton Hotel, Macy's Plaza, Los Angeles.
    (Closed.)
  • Top of the Harbor Restaurant, Crowne Plaza, Ventura. (Closed.)

Connecticut

  • Vuli Restaurant, Stamford. (Closed since 2007.)

Florida

  • Holiday Inn, Destin (closed)
  • Garden Grill
    Epcot
    Walt Disney World Resort
    Lake Buena Vista, Orlando
    1675 N. Buena Vista Drive
    Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
    407-824-4321
  • Revolving Restaurant, JEA Tower Jacksonville. (Closed.)
  • The View at CK's, Tampa, Florida
    4200 George J Bean Outbound Parkway
    Tampa, Florida 33607
    813-878-6500
  • Spinners, Grand Plaza Hotel & Resort (overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg)
    5250 Gulf Boulevard
    St. Petersburg Beach, FL 33706
    727-360-1811
  • Pier Top Restaurant
    Hyatt Regency Pier 66
    (For Sunday brunch and special occasions only.)
    2301 Southeast 17th Street Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 954-728-3530

Georgia

  • Polaris, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Georgia. (Closed since 2004.)
  • Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View
    Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel

    210 Peachtree Street
    Atlanta, GA 30303
    404-589-7506

Hawaii

  • Top of Waikiki,
    Waikiki Business Plaza
    2270 Kalakaua Avenue
    Honolulu, HI 96815
    808-923-3877
  • La Ronde Restaurant, Ala Moana Building,
    Honolulu.  (Closed. First American revolving restaurant, predating the SkyCity "Eye of the Needle")

Illinois

  • Ventana's
    (Closed to the public; only open for receptions, parties, etc.) at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare

    9300 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
    Rosemont, IL 60018-5202
    847-696-1234
  • The Pinnacle Revolving Restaurant, W Hotel, 
    Chicago. (Closed.)

Indiana

  • Eagle's Nest
    Hyatt Regency
    One South Capitol Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46204
    317-632-1234

Kentucky

  • Rivue Restaurant & Lounge
    Galt House Hotel & Suites
    140 North 4th Street
    Louisville, KY 40202-4227
    502-568-4239
    (Dual revolving floorplates.)
  • ThreeSixty
    Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront
    668 West Fifth Street Covington, KY 41011
    859-491-5300
  • Spire
    Hyatt Regency Louisville
    (only used for special events/receptions since 2007—not open to the public)
    320 West Jefferson Street Louisville, KY 40202
    502-217-6077

Louisiana

  • Club 360
    33rd Floor
    World Trade Center
    New Orleans (Closed after Hurricane Katrina, it has a website but probably will not reopen and the building itself may be demolished)

    2 Canal St # 2900
    New Orleans, LA 70130-1507
  • Top of the Dome
    Hyatt Regency New Orleans
    Poydras, New Orleans. (Closed after Hurricane Katrina.)

Maryland

  • The Circle One, Baltimore (Opened in 1964 atop the Holiday Inn Downtown on Lombard and Howard streets. The restaurant made a complete revolution each hour. It closed in 1974.)

Massachusetts

  • Spinnakers, Hyatt Regency Cambridge. (Closed.)

Michigan

  • Coach Insignia, 
    Renaissance Center, Detroit. (Ceased revolving in 2002.)
  • Revolving Rooftop Ballroom
    Hyatt Regency Dearborn
    600 Town Center Drive
    Dearborn, MI 48126-2793
    313-593-1234
  • Rondeview, Holiday Inn, Southfield. (Closed 1986.)

Minnesota

  • Revolving Restaurant, Wells Fargo Tower, Bloomington. 
    (Closed.)
  • Top of the Harbor Restaurant
    Radisson Hotel Duluth Harborview

    505 West Superior Street
    Duluth, MN 55802
    218-727-8981
  • Carousel Restaurant, St. Paul. (Closed as of July 2007.)

Missouri

Nevada

  • Top of the World
    Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower

    2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South
    Las Vegas, NV 89104
    800-998-6937

New York

  • The View
    New York Marriott Marquis
    Times Square

    1535 Broadway
    New York, NY 10036
    212-704-8900
  • Changing Scene, First Federal Plaza, Rochester, New York (Opened 1977, closed in 1988 and was converted into office space.)

Ohio

  • Ventana's
    Millennium Hotel Cincinnati
    (No longer open to the public; calls itself a “revolving reception venue”)
    150 West Fifth Street Cincinnati, OH 45202-2393
    513-352-2125

Oklahoma

  • Nikz at the Top, United Founders Tower, Oklahoma City. (Closed.)

South Carolina

  • Top of Carolina
    (Now used only for catered events.)
    Capstone House
    University of South Carolina
    Columbia, SC 29208
    803 777-7919

Pennsylvania

  • Revolving Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Harrisburg, Pennylvania. (Closed.)

Tennessee

  • Skybox Revolving Restaurant
    Sunsphere
    810 West Clinch Avenue
    Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
    865-951-1307
    (The sphere portion includes two separate observation decks and three levels of restaurant space, however, the restaurant does not appear to be open at this time.)
  • Polaris, Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Nashville, Tennessee. (Closed)
  • Top of the 100, 100 North Main Building, Memphis, Tennessee. (Closed.)
  • Revolving Restaurant, White Station Tower, Memphis, Tennessee. (Closed.)

Texas

  • Five Sixty
    Reunion Tower
    (A major, year-long remodeling of the Antares Restaurant resulted in its reopening as 560 in 2009 under the auspices of Wolfgang Puck.)
    300 Reunion Boulevard
    Dallas, TX 75202
    214-741-5560
  • Chart House
    Tower of the Americas

    701 Bowie Street
    San Antonio, TX 78205
    210-223-3101
  • CK's Revolving Restaurant
    Houston Airport Marriott
    at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

    8700 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
    Houston, Texas 77032
    800-228-9290
  • Spindletop
    Hyatt Regency Houston

    (Closed in 2008 as a result of Hurricane Ike, but reopened in October of 2010.)
    1200 Louisiana Street
    Houston, TX 77002-5209
    713-375 4775

Virginia

Washington

  • SkyCity
    Space Needle

    400 Broad Street
    Seattle, WA 98109
    800-937-9582
  • Revolving Restaurant, Holiday Inn, SeaTac, Washington. (Closed.)

Wisconsin

  • Polaris Restaurant
    Hyatt Regency Milwaukee

    (Closed to the public on April 12, 2009, now only rented out for special occasions.)
    333 West Kilbourn Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI 53203

There's always a 360-degree view...

Exotic Eateries

Revolving Restaurants in the Americas (Various Locations)

By Phil Dotree — December 14, 2010, updated March 19, 2011

Depending on your point of view, revolving restaurants are either an unnecessary luxury or a brilliant example of fine architecture. One thing is indisputable: a revolving restaurant can offer a great panoramic experience for diners, and more often than not, the restaurants tend to be major stops for vacation-goers and sightseers.

built in 1959, the 219.6-meter (720.47-foot) florianturm TV tower in Dortmund germany, may have had the world's first revolving restaurant. This was followed by similar restaurants in frankfurt, cairo, and honolulu. (Photo: dortmund.de)

For those who have never been in a revolving restaurant, they’re exactly what they sound like; a restaurant set atop a revolving platform, usually far above a city or landscape. The rotation of the restaurant allows customers to get an amazing look at the ground below during a meal. Many revolving restaurants are regularly rented out for parties, wedding receptions, and similar events.

There are hundreds of revolving restaurants across the world, including dozens in 25 U.S. states. However, the idea that a restaurant could safely revolve on specially-made, massive platters, originated in Germany. According to many experts, a rotating restaurant at the top of a large narrow tower provided the inspiration for the rest of the world—the 219.6 meter (720.5-foot) Florianturm (Florian Tower, “Florian” for short) the landmark TV tower of Dortmund, built in 1959 with a revolving restaurant at the 137.54-meter (451.2-foot) level. However, it’s disputed whether this was the actual first revolving restaurant in the world.

Regardless, the concept of the revolving restaurant was fairly novel at the time, and the idea quickly spread—people enjoyed the idea of eating far above a city and marveled at the space-age architecture that allowed rotation. Revolving restaurants quickly sprung up around the world, most boasting rotation speeds of about 1–3 rotations per hour. After Dortmund, revolving restaurants appeared in Frankfurt, Germany, and Cairo, Egypt.

The revolving restaurant was introduced to the United States in 1961, reportedly independent of its German predecessors. The restaurant, La Ronde, revolved on a 16-foot turntable system in the Ala Moana office building in Hawaii. It was an engineering masterpiece; its architect, John Graham, designed the building so that the dining platform would rotate independent of the rest of the building.

The La Ronde became a sort of archetype for American revolving restaurants, although many sightseers (including some visitors) misunderstood the mechanism of the revolving restaurant. To this day, there’s a prevailing myth that revolving restaurants usually consist of a building with a separate, rotating structure on top. Graham’s design was much more practical, because a disk-shaped revolving dining platform with a hole at the center for the building's core would pose fewer safety challenges and carry a lower cost. (Graham patented his design in 1964.) Thus, the platform revolves around the core; the building as a whole does not rotate about its axis.

1960s Postcard photo of night view of the huge ala moana shopping center and the la ronde revolving restaurant atop the Ala moana office building (indicated by red arrow at upper left of photo) , the work of seattle architect john graham.

Graham didn’t stop there. He also designed the revolving restaurant on the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, using many of the same concepts and engineering techniques that he’d perfected at La Ronde.

(Editor's Note: While the Century 21 Exposition, Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair, was still in the planning stage, the fair’s chairman, Edward E. Carlson, visited a restaurant atop the 712-foot-high Stuttgart Tower, a chimneylike reinforced concrete structure having elevators inside that brought diners to a multilevel barrel-shaped restaurant. The Stuttgart restaurant did not revolve, but he brought back postcards of the tower, and everyone involved in the Seattle World's Fair decided that a similar tower could symbolize not just the fair, but the city of Seattle itself, long after the expo concluded. When John Graham was shown a very rough sketch of the tower, John Graham immediately said, “Let’s make the restaurant revolve.”)

The Space needle of seattle, Washington, was originally built for the 1962 world's fair. At the top is its revolving restaurant, skycity.
(Photo © Dhilde | Dreamstime.com)

The restaurant, SkyCity, uses a 14-foot carousel to rotate. SkyCity is one of the most famous revolving restaurants in the world and was originally known as the Eye of the Space Needle. The restaurant is so incredibly well designed that a single 1.5 horsepower motor is used to accomplish its rotations, which are completed every 50 minutes or so. SkyCity provides an elegant look at Seattle, including ferry boats and the breathtaking lights of the city at night. It’s one of John Graham’s greatest accomplishments and an even more notable example of the revolving restaurant than the La Ronde—what’s more, unlike La Ronde, which closed some years ago, SkyCity is still open and serves thousands of customers every year.

Since Graham’s time, the architecture of revolving restaurants has changed slightly, with many relying on modern improvements to the cog-driven design of the La Ronde. The basics have stayed the same and revolving restaurants have become famous attractions in various states. Usually, revolving restaurants are combined with hotels or large office buildings, and as they became popular in the 1960s through the 1970s, many different companies tried to put their own unique twists and touches on the revolving restaurant.

Texas is home to several major revolving restaurants, including the Tower of the Americas and Reunion Tower.

Built in 1978, Reunion Tower is a 561-foot (171-meter) observation tower in Dallas, Texas. Located at 300 Reunion Boulevard in the Reunion district of downtown Dallas. the tower is part of the Hyatt Regency Hotel complex, and is the 15th tallest building in Dallas. Following renovations in 2008, Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck opened a fine-dining restaurant called “Five Sixty” on the tower's rotating top level on February 11, 2009. The name refers to the restaurant's elevation. Five sixty replaced the tower's previous restaurant, called antares.
(Photo © Anthony Aneese Totah Jr | Dreamstime.com)

Located in Dallas, Reunion Tower is well-known to residents of the city for its spherical shape and brilliant nightly light displays, in which patterns of lights flash beneath the globe’s dark exterior. The top level of Reunion Tower is a revolving restaurant named Five Sixty, a reference to the tower’s elevation. Reunion Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Dallas and the view from Five Sixty is a remarkable experience.

Reunion Tower at dusk. The middle floor of the tower beneath the revolving restaurant is used for special events managed by Wolfgang Puck Catering, which has its headquarters at nearby Union Station. The sphere encompassing the three floors is similar to a geodesic dome, fashioned from aluminum struts. Each of the struts' 260 intersections is covered by aluminum circles with lights in the center. At night, the sphere lights up with hundreds of bulbs that flash in various computer-generated patterns. (Photo © Jeremy Edwards)

The restaurant in the Tower of the Americas is known as Chart House and is owned by Landry Restaurants. The Tower of the Americas is largely focused on promoting education on Texas history, but the restaurant is more focused on the beautiful San Antonio skyline. At over 750 feet tall, the Tower of the Americas is a particularly high revolving restaurant and a tourist attraction to San Antonio visitors. What’s more, the accompanying Skies Over Texas exhibit is a worthwhile educational ride for any Texas resident or tourist.

One of the more interesting revolving restaurants in the United States is at the legendary Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. The Galt House has a history as a popular hotel that goes back over a century, so when renovations were announced, the owners were determined to keep the popularity of the building without diminishing its reputation as a must-see Kentucky landmark. The result was a fully renovated hotel containing the Rivue Restaurant & Lounge, one of the only revolving restaurants with two revolving platforms. This design allows both of the dining areas of the restaurant to function as independent revolving restaurants and allows the Rivue to seat an enormous number of patrons.

At the height of the revolving restaurant phenomenon in the 1960s, theme parks got in on the craze, and many of these theme parks still host successful revolving restaurants. Disney fans can experience the magic of a revolving restaurant at the Epcot Center, for instance, at the Garden Grill Restaurant. This restaurant fits into the Future World theme of the Epcot Center quite nicely. It’s also probably the only revolving restaurant in the world that features giant men in chipmunk costumes (Chip and Dale are frequent “visitors” to the Garden Grill).

The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia is over seven hundred feet tall and features its own revolving restaurant with a fairly fast rotation speed of two rotations per hour. It’s another example of the common combination of hotels and revolving restaurants, as a skyscraper like the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel is really a necessity for a revolving restaurant to become popular; hotels tend to be some of the largest buildings in cities like Atlanta, so a revolving restaurant is often a very obvious addition. The Westin’s restaurant is one of Atlanta’s favorite attractions, and it’s also a fairly longstanding revolving restaurant in a building that has been open since 1976.

Modern rotating restaurants are available in almost every major city, as they’re a great way for hotels to bring in business and establish another form of revenue through a successful and highly visible restaurant (no pun intended). LA Prime at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California is another popular revolving restaurant that may actually be more famous for its food than its architecture. LA Prime is a New York style steakhouse. Like many revolving restaurants, LA Prime hires tremendous chefs to keep their patrons coming back. However, expect a hefty price tag; like rotating restaurants, fine steaks don’t come cheap.

Revolving restaurants are not limited to the United States, however, and there are restaurants all around the world that provide unique and exciting views of various cities and natural phenomena. One of the best examples in the Americas is the Skylon Tower, located in Niagra Falls, Ontario. The Canadian restaurant, appropriately titled the Revolving Dining Room, overlooks the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. It seats about three hundred people and is nearly as balanced and power-conservative as the Space Needle’s restaurant; the Revolving Dining Room uses a 3 horsepower motor and rotates once per hour.

The Bellini Restaurante in the World Trade Center Mexico is another example of the revolving restaurant’s popularity outside of the United States. It offers a view of Mexico City and often features music as well as other types of entertainment for its patrons.

Sadly, revolving restaurants are becoming increasingly antiquated for a number of reasons. When the revolving mechanism of a revolving restaurant breaks, it can be extremely expensive to repair due to the specialized parts necessary to build a restaurant. There’s also less public interest in revolving restaurants than there was in the 1960s when the technology first became popular. Restaurants like the Coach Insignia in the Renaissance Center of Detroit or the Club 360 atop the World Trade Center of New Orleans have closed or have stopped rotating.

Nevertheless, there are a great number of revolving restaurants in the Americas, and they’re a fantastic experience for any person interested in fine dining or getting a great view. Revolving restaurants are an architectural and engineering oddity, but there’s something spectacular about getting a great 360 degree view of various cities and natural landmarks. Every person in a revolving restaurant eventually has the same view, so there’s no such thing as a good or bad table, and more often than not, the food in revolving restaurants represents the best that fine dining chefs have to offer. Whether you’re on a vacation or just exploring the sights of your hometown, a revolving restaurant can be a unique and completely unforgettable experience. end-of-article dingbat

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Phil Dotree photo Phil Dotree has written over 2,000 articles on various subjects for many websites and news sites (Fark, Digg.com, etc.). He has been featured on the Howard Stern show and CNN.com.

 

 

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Revolving Restaurants of Canada

Alberta

  • La Ronde
    Crowne Plaza Hotel
    Edmonton-Chateau Lacombe
    10111 Bellamy Hill
    Edmonton, AB T5J 1N7, Canada
    780-428-6611
  • Sky 360
    Calgary Tower

    01-9 Avenue SW
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    T2P 1J9
    403-532-7966

British Columbia

Manitoba

  • Royal Crown Revolving Restaurant, Fort Garry Place, Winnipeg. (Closed December, 2008.)

Ontario

  • 360 Restaurant
    301 Front Street West

    (Highest revolving restaurant in the world at 351 meters, or 1,151 feet. Also, 2nd highest restaurant in the world after At.mosphere—442 meters, or 1,450 feet—on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.)
    301 Front Street
    West Toronto, Ontario
    M5V 2T6 Canada
    416-868-6937
  • Revolving Dining Room
    Skylon Tower
    5200 Robinson Street Niagara Falls, ON Canada L2G 2A3
    905-356-2651
    Toll Free in North America: 1-877-4SKYLON (1-877-475-9566)
  • Summit
    Ottawa Marriott Hotel

    100 Kent Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5R7 Canada
    613-238-1122
  • Toulà, Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto. (Not currently revolving.)

Quebec

  • L'Astral
    Loews Hôtel Le Concorde
    1225 cours du Général-De Montcalm
    Québec City, Québec
    G1R 4W6, Canada
    418-647-2222
    Reservations: 800-463-5256
  • Le Tour de Ville
    Delta Centre-Ville
    777 University Street
    Montreal, QC H3C 3Z7
    Canada
    514-879-4777

Revolving Restaurants of Mexico