The Rainbow Room in its heyday as a dining destination
The Rainbow Room in its heyday as a dining destination

New York's The Rainbow Room to reopen next fall

Dining landmark will feature updated design, new terrace lounge

The Rainbow Room, a New York City dining landmark that closed in 2009, is slated to reopen in the fall of 2014.

The restaurant will feature an updated design, including a new bar and lounge, and a previously unused outdoor terrace, the company that operates the space said.

Las Vegas-based Blau + Associates, which played a key role in turning that city into a global dining destination, will oversee the process, according to Tishman Speyer, the company that operates Rockefeller Center, where the Rainbow Room is located.

“The Rainbow Room space has occupied the collective imagination and memories of generations of Americans and New Yorkers,” Rockefeller Center managing director Keith Douglas said in a press release. “We are pleased to reopen it, and we are committed to operating a Rainbow Room that will offer top levels of dining service and catering for today’s visitors while preserving the elegance for which it is so well known.”

Originally opened in 1934 on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the Rainbow Room was for decades a popular tourist destination and special-occasion restaurant. It closed in 1985 for a two-year refurbishment by veteran restaurateurs Joe Baum and David Emil, who later also reworked Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center.

Operations of The Rainbow Room were taken over by Cipriani International in 1998. That company closed the restaurant and event space in 2009 amid economic woes, labor disputes and issues with landlord Tishman Speyer.

Blau + Associates will be conducting the search for the restaurant’s chef and general manager, who will operate the space as a catered event venue, as well a restaurant that will be open to the public for Sunday brunch and on one or two nights a week — as well as on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — for à la carte dinner and entertainment, including dancing on the Rainbow Room’s famous rotating dance floor.

The Rainbow Room helped put New York City on the culinary map.

“That’s being restored as we speak,” said Elizabeth Blau, who called the project one of the most exciting opportunities of her career.

Blau, who said she was introduced to Tishman Speyer co-founder Jerry Tishman by Las Vegas hotel mogul Steve Wynn, said she had been working on the project with the New York company for a couple of years, “because obviously this is a lengthy process. … All the behind-the-scenes work has been going on quietly and strategically.

“We can now do the fun stuff, which is conduct this international search for an unbelievable executive chef to oversee this,” she added, as well as select the china, glassware and silverware, develop the brand identity etc.

“All of the features that were part of the greatness of the Rainbow Room before will come back, just in different iterations.”

Additionally, the outdoor terrace and a connecting interior space will serve as a bar and lounge offering cocktails and light fare to the public five or more days a week.

Gabellini Sheppard Architects, the firm that developed Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center’s observation deck, will design the Rainbow Room’s public space.

The venue’s interior, including its rotating dance floor, was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in October 2012.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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