A 1938 book publish by the Curteich company featuring prints and information about”America’s Friendliest City.”
Come with us on archaeological expedition and DISCOver the story of an archaeology themed disco located within the Holiday Inn Riverfront in the Cincinnati suburb of Covington, Kentucky.
The Holiday Inn Riverfront had opened in the 1960s with a modest Holiday Inn restaurant attached to the side. Over the next 15 years people ate, people chatted, and people moved on through without giving the restaurant much of a thought. The basement featured a conference room and a small bar, but no real entertainment.
By the late 1970s, tastes had changed and a new dance craze had taken over the country and Cincinnati was no different.
By the end of 1979 the area was home to a number of disco clubs and disco-themed restaurants including:
- Amanda at 311 Delta. Ave.
- Bentley’s at 36 W. 5th
- Lucy’s in the Sky at Eighth at Linn on the Top Floor of the Holiday Inn Downtown
- Tomorrow’s at Fifth and Race
- Rookwood Pottery at 1077 Celestial St. in Mt. Adams
- Max and Erma’s at 123 Boggs Lane
- Lighthouse Ltd. at Vine and Calhoun
- Spanky’s in the Holiday Inn North at 2235 Sharon Rd.
- The Conservatory at 640 W. Third in Covington
- Past-Times Saloon at 2640 Glendora
- Badlands at 419 Plum St.
- Trumps at Princeton Pike and Kemper Rd.
The glut of clubs did not stop entrepreneur Jeff Ruby from opening a new club in the basement of the Holiday Inn Rivermont. A short bio about Jeff Ruby from his website:
Ruby took a job in 1970 with Winegardner and Hammons’ Holiday Inn in downtown Cincinnati. There, he turned a 12th floor bar into the “Den of the Little Foxes” (a lá the Playboy club) at Lucy’s in the Sky disco and made it the place to be for those who wanted to see and be seen. His success at Lucy’s quickly propelled him to the post of Regional Director of all seven Holiday Inns in Cincinnati.
Ruby had a complicated history with nightclubs. Ruby had helped Lucy’s in the Sky in the Holiday Inn Downtown to success. However, it wasn’t all great. Ruby was in attendance at the Beverly Hills Supper Club on the evening on May 28, 1977 when an inferno swept through the sprawling club. 165 people died but somehow Ruby had managed to escape. That event did not deter him from wanting to open a new nightclub.
In a December 1978 interview Ruby said that he believed “there’s still a (dance) market for real people,” and he wanted to have a “clientele less chic and more down-to-earth than some of the discos around town.” Ruby would
Through his Holiday Inn connections he met Robert Fields, who had opened clubs in several Holiday Inns including Peary’s Explorers Lounge in Anchorage, Alaska and Runway 22 at Chicago-O’Hare, the new club would contain a theme very close to Fields’ heart.
Archaeology had been a hobby for Fields since childhood. During his teen years he told his father that he wanted to be an archaeologist but his father had told him that he couldn’t do it because he would never make any money. Fields was determined to prove that he could be successful and still share his passion.
Fields’ design featured an archaeological themed nightclub/disco replete with 700-100 Peruvian textile fragments in the walls near the bar, replica Aztec pottery and a central room that resembled an Aztec temple. The new club would hold 350 people and featuring local bands and hottest disco tracks available.
The new place would be called Dr. Pott’s. The logo featured a character with a bow tie, pit helmet and coat eerily similar to Howard Carter, the famed archaeologist who discoverd King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s.
Dr. Pott’s opened on December 15, 1979. Featuring celebrity host Jim LaBarbara and the both live and recorded disco sounds of Mason-Dixon Dance Band, the opening night celebration was a major success.
Throughout 1980, Dr.Pott’s became THE place to party, find “romance” and dance the night away. However, not everybody was allowed to join in the fun. On January 29, 1980 country music stars The Gatlin Brothers were denied entry because they were wearing faded denim jeans.
By the middle of 1981 the disco craze had faded and the music itself became a joke. Ruby and Dr. Pott’s continued to book live entertainment but disco was a thing of the past. By 1986 the club, struggling to maintain a crowd, tried once again to capitalize on a fad and became a comedy club. The Dr. Pott’s/comedy marriage would only last a short time and a new comedy club called Cassidy’s would open in the same location.
Dr. Pott’s success was short-lived and all the memories of the archaeology-themed restaurant would be forgotten. However, Jeff Ruby would not fade away. After forging a business partnership with Cincinnati Reds legends Johnny Bench and Pete Rose, Ruby would go on to numerous bigger and better things. His website gives a brief timeline of the successes to come:
After opening The Precinct in 1981 he followed with The Waterfront in 1986, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in 1999, Carlo & Johnny in 2001, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Louisville in 2006, and Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Nashville in 2016. Consistency and quality are hallmarks of a Ruby restaurant – a fact supported by the 3 decades of success at The Precinct, Cincinnati’s longest continually-running fine dining restaurant.
Today, managing the growing Ruby brand is a family affair as each of Ruby’s children is deeply involved in the company. Daughter Britney Ruby Miller serves as Corporate Director of Operations, and sons Brandon and Dillon fill roles as General Manager of The Precinct and Assistant General Manager of the Nashville location respectively. Together, the family owns 5 eateries in 3 states with another 2 steakhouses in development.
*In addition to the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire, Ruby would survive a 1987 accident that left him in critical condition with a fractured skull and a blood clot on the surface of his brain. He slipped in and out of a coma for nearly two weeks. Chances of survival were around 10% and yet Ruby managed to check himself out the hospital 33 days later.
The following article, written and photographed by Lee Heiman, appeared in the Courier-Journal on October 16, 1960:
Keeping Up with the Joneses, a difficult matter anywhere or anytime, is particularly nerve-wracking at a certain restaurant on U.S. 62 at the west edge of Bardstown.
This isn’t because of high prices but because of the large number of Joneses.
There is an inkling of it in the name – Jones’ Kentucky Home Restaurant – but nothing to reveal that here is indeed a hotbed of Jonesism.
On a clear day you can see 16 Joneses at this location. If you are having a meal here, it is conceivable that 13 of them may have a part in it.
Heading the list are Mr. and Mrs. William E. Jones, who own and manage the establishment. The others are 11 of their 14 sons and daughters:
Mary Annette, 19, is bookkeeper and operates the gift shop at the front of the restaurant.
Barbara, 18, works the breakfast shift, 7 to 3, as a waitress.
Twins Marolyn and Carolyn, 17, handle part of the dishwashing chore in the kitchen
Bill, Jr., 16, works at the grill and helps with the stock and the cleaning.
Wanda Marie, 14, is a waitress and sometimes cashier.
Betty Sue, 13, hands out menus, puts water in place for costumers as they arrive, and cleans tables afterward
Mary Michelle, 12, better known as Mickey, does about the same kind of work as Betty Sue.
Joseph Francis (Frankie), 11, helps with dishwashing.
Gerry, 10, makes toast, helps the breakfast cook and carries orders to the serving window.
Jimmy, 8, picks up paper on the grounds.
Three other young Jones – Jack 5, Tony, 4, and Mike, 3 – aren’t on the payroll yet. At this point they’re only in the mouths-to-feed category. The older youngsters take food to them in the Jones house next to the eatery.
Even with all their help within the family, the Jones still have to employ eight others in the kitchen and 12 additional waitresses. The youngsters work mostly on weekend while school’s in session but nearly every day in summer.
They began their business five years ago with a 75-seat restaurant and today, after additions, have a modern, 250-seat establishment.
Two of the employees who have been with them since the beginning, and are credited by the Joneses with providing much of the know-how which assured success, are still working at the restaurant today – Mrs. Nita Howell as a waitress and Willie Lee Hickman as chef. Four other original employees are there, too.
Members of the family punch the time clock along with the rest of the employees. Most of the older kids draw individual checks. The younger ones – except Jimmy – get a lump check which is deposited in the bank for future use, and for spending money they receive an allowance of $1 a week. Jimmy gets 50 cents.
One the wall are baby pictures of all 14 of the young Joneses with the notation, “14 Good Reasons For Eating Here.”
The restaurant is closed one day each year – on Christmas. “That’s the children’s day,” said Mrs. Jones, “and we wouldn’t spoil it for the world.”
The Jones’ Kentucky Home Restaurant story began in 1945 when three brothers, Robert, Tucker and Harry Hagan joined forces with Edward “Bill” Jones to operate Bardstown, Kentucky’s first commercial dairy, H and J Dairy. The dairy supplied milk to all the schools in the area and did pretty well. A few years later another commercial dairy, supplied with Dean’s Milk opened. Armed with a big overhead and more capital, the new dairy began to win local school contracts, but Hagan and Jones knew there was not enough money coming in to keep four families happy.
Bill would go home and talk it over with his wife Wyanda and realized that the dairy could not support the then already enormous family of 13. Bill and Wyanda’s lived on five acres of land on West Stephen Foster Avenue in Bardstown. Directly across the street from their house a new motel, the Old Kentucky Home motel was under construction. That gave the Jones an idea.
Travelers to Bardstown and Stephen Foster exhibits would surely stay in the motel and they would need a place to eat. The Jones’ could use the land they already owned and build a modest eatery for the motel patrons. Bill went back to the Hagans and asked to be bought out of the dairy. The brothers obliged.
Bill would have the money he needed but need to convince the local zoning board to change the property the Jones’ owned to a commercial zone so they could build the restaurant. The zoning change was approved at almost the same time as a 12th child, Jack, arrived.
Jones’ Kentucky Home Restaurant opened for business in 1955. Intentionally starting small and slow they hoped they could ease in to owning a restaurant. For weeks they were opened without a sign on the outside, but that didn’t matter.When the 75-seat restaurant opened on that first day, the place was absolutely packed. There was even a line. Business was good.
The restaurant was open from 6:00 am to 9:00 am on everyday but Christmas. As the 1960 article above states, the Jones would utilize a good many of their kids in the restaurant. It truly was a family affair.
The restaurant was so successful that expansion and renovation was needed almost immediately. There would be five such expansions to increase the seating capacity to over 225 persons. The Jones’ would also expand their family three more times and finally stop with FIFTEEN children.
Bill and Wyanda would remain in charge of the restaurant until their retirement in 1974. Two of the sons, Bill and Frank would take over the restaurant for a short while. Then Jack, another son, and his wife Lisa ran it for a bit and then Marie, another Jones, took over the helm. Business was slowing to a crawl until the restaurant finally closed in 1985.
Generic looking apartments now occupy the space where a husband and wife and their umpteen kids once provided 12, then 14, then ultimately 15 good reasons to eat the food at Jones’ Kentucky Home.
Opened June 14, 1974, the Bowling Green 3 Penny Inn was an example of the Howard Johnson Company’s attempt to create a budget lodging segment. Their slogan was “centsible lodging.”
The economy rate motel was built by the Allen Construction Co. of Bowling Green. It was the second pilot project in the country (the first a converted motel in New Paltz, New York). There were 80 units on side and it was built of ultra-fire resistant masonry and concrete.
Only four 3 Penny Inns were opened and all were operated by the Company. The first was in New Paltz, New York and was a conversion of an existing motel. Of the three that were purpose built only the Bowling Green property remained extant into the 2010s.
There were only four 3 Penny Inns opened.
- New Paltz, New York (converted from an older motel)
- Savannah, Georgia
- Wildwood, Florida
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
The following information is from the wonderful Highway Host website:
Unfortunately for its forward looking creators, the Arab Oil embargo and subsequent “energy crisis” coincided with the concept’s introduction and Company support for the project was withdrawn.
Information on how long these locations lasted is difficult to find. I am certain none of them saw much of the 1980s as the trademark was cancelled in April, 1981.
Only the Bowling Green location was featured on a postcard. I have seen a matchbook advertising all four locations but little else remains.
The 3 Penny Inn was a decent idea but came along at the wrong time.
You may Stouffer’s as one of the biggest names in frozen foods but what you may not know is that the Stouffer’s name was once ties to inns, eateries, and a series of restaurants that tower of some major cities and providesd food and drink with a view.
Stouffer’s was founded in 1922, when Abraham and Mahala Stouffer opened a dairy stand in downtown Cleveland’s Arcade Building. The Stouffers would add fresh-brewed coffee and Mrs. Stouffer’s homemade Dutch apple pies to the menu. Business really started to boom when the Stouffer’s son Vernon returned with a finance degree from Penn in 1923. The family established its first real restaurant called Stouffer Lunch in 1924. Located on East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue the restaurant was opened with an investment of just $15,000.
The restaurant’s menu featured a few sandwiches priced from 20 to 25 cents. Stouffer’s would expand to Detroit and then to Pittsburgh. Shortly after that another son named Gordon joined the burgeoning business. It was Gordon who recommended that the waitresses, known as “Stouffer Girls,” should all wear a standard outfit dictated by Stouffer’s.
The restaurant was not slowed down by the Depression. In 1935, the chain opened its sixth location, and in 1937, it launched its first restaurant in New York City. World War II would slow the company’s expansion but in 1946, Stouffer’s opened its first suburban restaurant in Cleveland’s Shaker Square neighborhood.
The food became so popular that people would ask for it to go or frozen so they could enjoy the food at home. The company soon realized the potential of what they could do with frozen food, and began to sell the items in a separate business called the 227 Club.
Stouffer’s volume of frozen food business grew so quickly that, in 1954, the company built a processing plant in downtown Cleveland. That year, the company was officially named Stouffer Foods Corporation.
The restaurant group launched its “Top of…” restaurants in the 1956 with Stouffer’s Top of the Rock located in the newly built Prudential Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Not long after that the Top of the Six’s opened in New York.
In 1960, Stouffer made its first venture into the hotel business with the purchase of Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Anacapri Inn. I will definitely be doing a write-up of the Anacapri at some point soon.
The purchase gave the company three divisions: Stouffer Hotel Co., Stouffer Foods Corp., and Stouffer Restaurant Co.
By 1965, there were seven Top of The…restaurants in the Stouffer’s franchise. In May of that year, Stouffer’s announced a five-year, $17 million expansion plan to increase its number of ground restaurants and to add more “Top of The…” restaurants to their growing empire.
Nestlé acquired Stouffer’s three divisions in 1973. The merger did not hamper growth. Several new hotels with Top of The…built in to the towers were opened in the late 1970s.
Stouffer’s Hotel group was sold to the Renaissance/Ramada chains in 1993 for approximately $1.5 billion. The reorganization left Stouffer Corp. with frozen foods as its sole business where it still thrives under the Nestle banner.
By the time it was all said and done there were 16 Top of The…restaurants built over a 23 year span. Some enjoyed lasted success, others faded fairly quickly. I have done my best to find what I could about every one of these places. I placed in them in chronological order by opening date. Some of the places’ dates are sketchy at best but I think I have them in order.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Top of the Rock – Chicago, Illinois
Closed: January, 1976
Location: 41st Floor, Prudential Building, 130 E. Randolph St.
The Top of the Rock was located at the top of the Prudential Building on Michigan Avenue. Upon its opening in 1956, the restaurant at that top of Chicago’s first skyscraper in 21 years, offered unparalleled views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. On a clear day you could see four states and seemingly all of Chicago.
Top of the Rock was THE place to go on a date, get a cocktail and take in a great view. Top of the Rock sat 180 guests in an early-American/Continental decor.
That only lasted for about a decade. In 1966, the Prudential Building was no longer the tallest building in Chicago. By the early 1970s the observation deck, that once was host to over 750,000 people a year, was down to fewer than one-third of that total.
The restaurants, now struggling to gain visitors seemed dated and The Loop area was no longer a place for tourists. The Loop had turned in to a downtown that was for business people only and was virtually abandoned when the evening rolled around.
In January 1976 the Top of the Rock closed.
A February 8, 1976 article “‘Top of Rock’ winks out – omen for Loop?” by Paul Gapp in The Chicago Tribune laments the demise of the restaurant and the Loop:
The restaurant did not merely lose a height battle. It lost out on changing times and forces that have killed off a dozen other landmark Loop restaurants [not to mention theaters, nightclubs, book stores, specialty shops, and other amenities razed in the name of progress.”]
Every time another old-line attraction closes its doors, we seem to move closer to the day when there will be nothing – absolutely nothing – to do in the Loop after 6 pm.
After years of careful planning, the Loop did recover. The Prudential Building still stands right across the street from a newer tourist destination, Millennium Park.
No other restaurant has occupied the 41st floor space where Top of The Rock once offered a unique view of a changing city.
Top of the Six’s – New York, New York
Closed: September 1996
Location: Penthouse Floor, 666 Fifth Avenue
Top of the Six’s was located on the penthouse floor of 666 Fifth Avenue, between 52nd/53rd Streets. 666 Fifth Avenue, also know as the Tishman Building was built in 1957. It building was known for its aluminium exterior paneling and for the glowing 666 on the side.
Also known as the Tishman building, the 41-story building was located near Rockefeller Center. It was a prime location for the wealthy and famous
The Top of the Six’s was known for it’s ambiance and for being the place to see and be seen. The drinks were stiff but the food was nothing special.
The September 18, 1996 New York Times article No More Tables for Two at the Top of the Sixes by David Stout states:
‘Nobody ever went there for the food.”
In July 1973, about 15 years after it opened, the restaurant announced that it was about to serve its 10 millionth meal. Ominously, a review that month found the cuisine anything but haute.
”My ‘beef stroganoff’ was a Swiss steak on noodles reminiscent of a hundred airline meals,” the restaurant reviewer declared, in one of his kinder passages.
Nine years later, a reviewer called Top of the Sixes ”the sort of place you visit in order to say you’ve been there, once.”
The end came in September 1996. Stouffer’s sold the restaurant to Select Restaurants of Cleveland in 1992 and they ultimately decided to not to renew their lease.
Top of the Six’s became another relic of a bygone New York era.
To the left and below, you can see a 1964 menu from the Top of the Six’s.
The Dinner Provencal are a steep $5.45 which is the equivalent of $42.31 in 2016 dollars.
Top of the Marine – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Closed: December 28, 2001 (then known as Top of the Plaza)
Location: 22nd floor of Marine Plaza (later known as Bank One Plaza Building), 111 E. Wisconsin
The building, also designed by Harrison and Abramovitz Architects, now known as Chase Tower was originally christened Marine Plaza when it was built for the Marine National Exchange Bank at 111 E. Wisconsin. The building opened in 1961 and I am guessing the restaurant opened at the same time or shortly there after.
Located on the 22nd floor, The Top of the Marine was designed with a luxury paddle-wheel theme. The entire decor was based on being on a turn of the 20th century cruise ship traveling over the Great Lakes. The restaurant offered a spectacular view of downtown Milwaukee from what was then the second tallest building in Milwaukee.
Over the years the Marine National Exchange Bank went through numerous mergers and name changes. Stouffer’s left around 1983 or 1984 but the restaurant re-named the Top of the Plaza remained until the very end of December 2001.
Top of the Mart – Atlanta, Georgia
Opened: Late 1961
Location: 22nd Floor, Atlanta Merchandise Mart, 240 Peachtree St., NW
240 Peachtree St., N.W. Atlanta 3, Ga.
This enchanting, love Mediterranean Garden Court is a delightful introduction to the exciting “Top of the Mart” restaurant-lounge on the 22nd floor of Atlanta’s new Merchandise Mart. Luncheon, dinner and late dining…famous Stouffer food and your favorite beverages are served. Party and banquet facilities are available.
The Atlanta Merchandise Mart, the first building constructed in Peachtree Center, was at the time of its construction the largest building in Atlanta.
Top of the Mart opened on the 22nd floor of the Merchandise Mart shortly after the opening of the building. Featuring a Mediterranean Garden and a brick-lined courtyard and a small, bubbling fountains, Top of the Mart was Atlanta’s hotspot for people of all races. The restaurant opened as a fully-integrated place in downtown Atlanta during the height of the fight against segregation. Stouffer’s also operated an integrated restaurant and lounge on the Peachtree Street level.
Top of the Mart was also a great place to get a drink due to Atlanta was a wet city in dry Georgia. A child, as long as there were accompanied by an adult could drink.
Information about the closing of the Top of the Mart has been hard to track down. Let me know if you have any information.
Top of the Flame – Detroit, Michigan
Opened: April 4, 1963
Closed: April 30, 1978
Location: 26th Floor, Michigan Consolidated Gas Building, 1 Woodward Ave.
The Michigan Consolidated Gas Building with a light on top that resembled a flame, was built in 1962 and was designed for the gas industry. There were gas jets with blue flames around the reflecting pool and the lobby ceiling a blue bulb that resembled a glass flame in the corners.
The Top of the Flame opened shortly after the building, on the 26th floor seated 350 in five different dining rooms.The restaurant’s decor was inspired by a showplace home in Bangkok, Thailand and included a Pagoda Bar.
Business boomed from the outset. The Top of the Flame was the only restaurant in town that had an accessible view of the Detroit waterfront and river. That lasted for a little more than decade until the Renaissance Plaza Hotel opened in 1976. The Plaza offered a newer environment and a higher, better view of the city.
Detroit, 1976, was in turmoil. In August, something of a mini-riot occurred in Cobo Hall, right near the Gas Building. Police arrested 47 people following an attack during a concert by the Average White Band and Kool and the Gang. The violence during event was gruesome and people understandably avoided that area of downtown.
The Top of the Flame, already appearing outdated, was doomed by these events. It was announced in December of 1977 that The Top of the Flame would not be renewing its lease when it came due at the end of April, 1978.
Top of the Rockies – Denver, Colorado
Location: 30th Floor, Security Life Building
Step from the glass-encased Sky Lift into a quaint French Alpine village… enjoy a breathtaking view of the magnificent Rockies from any dining and cocktail area… the finest American food as well as French and Swiss specialties.
Top of the Rockies was located 30 floors up at 16th & Glenarm in the Security Life Building in downtown Denver. The Security Life Building opened in 1964. It featured a glass-enclosed skylift elevator that offered a view all the way up. Advertising at the time used the phrase “See Denver one story at a time.”
The Top of the Rockies was decorated in a French Alpine village motif with flowers and fountains in a brick courtyard. The menu was designed with that motif in mind, specializing in French and Swiss style food.
There was a lounge for dancing and the music of FOXFIRE, the house band for several years in the 1970s.
I don’t know when the Top of the Rockies closed. I think it might have been around 1993 or 1994 but I am not sure. The building went through numerous name changed before finally being converted into apartments in 2005.
Top of the Town – Cleveland, Ohio
Closed: January, 1995
Location: 38th Floor, Erieview Plaza, 100 Erie View Tower
Developers John Galbreath and Peter Ruffin broke ground on a new skyscraper designed by the architecture firm of Harrison and Abramovitz called Erieview Tower in early 1963. As part of grand urban renewal plan for downtown Cleveland, Erieview Tower in the new Erieview Plaza (designed by I.M. Pei) was meant to be the hub of newly revitalized downtown Cleveland.
According to Wikipedia:
The tower, with its underground 450 car parking garage, was completed in 1964 and although the full renewal plan was not fully implemented, significant progress was made over the course of the following twenty-five years. Much of the area was cleared for redevelopment and a number of other buildings were constructed. A large amount of land was relegated to surface parking and, for a time into the late 1970s, the area became a somewhat cold and foreboding place to be with the East 9th Street corridor a limit to downtown’s growth.
Top of the Town was known for its fun, festive atmosphere and for their sauerkraut balls which is exactly what you’d think it is: deep-fried sauerkraut in ball-form.
In the 1970s, the restaurant was known for its live entertainment by local entertainers such as pianist Tommy Clair, musician Gary Lyman and Jack Reynolds from radio station WHK 1420 who would conduct live broadcasts from the Top of the Town Monday thru Friday from 7 to midnight; and radio station WJW would also broadcast radio shows live from Top of the Town.
The restaurant closed down in 1995 but the memories live on. There is a Top of The Town Facebook group where former employees and patrons share their great stories and pictures.
*all photos from the Facebook group*
Top of the Hub – Boston, Massachusetts
Opened: Spring 1965
Status: STILL OPEN
Location: 52nd Floor of the Prudential Tower, 800 Boylston Street
Construction began on the Prudential Tower in 1960. When it was completed in 1964, it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York.
Located on the 52nd floor, The Top of Hub, opened on April 19, 1965 and offered a dazzling view of the entire Boston metropolitan area. On clear days you could see beyond Boston Harbor into the Massachusetts Bay.
The Top of the Hub is still open. I am having a very difficult time finding when Stouffer’s stopped running the restaurant. The current website does not mention its past history. I will continue to dig and update this post of I can figure it out. As always, feel free to leave me a message or e-mail me if you have any information or if/when I have any facts wrong about this or any of these places.
Top of the Center – Columbus, Ohio
Location: 31st Floor, City National Building, 100 East Broad St.
This entry should come with the disclaimer that this one has been a doozy. If I am wrong please let me know as I would like to know but information is very scarce about this particular location and every bit I do find seems to contradict the other. I think the basis for the confusion is that there were three Stouffer’s location in Columbus including One Nation, which was atop the Nationwide Building at around the same time.
The Top of the Center was located on the 31st floor of City National Building (now known as the PNC Bank Building
I found an anonymous comment from an old forum about lost Columbus restaurants:
The classy English inn motif, the excellent menu, and who could forget the “cherries flambe” prepared (lit on fire)at your table!? And the view from the Top of the Center (top floor of what was then the City National bldg, now Bank One) was breath-taking, especially at night during the holidays when you all the lights were up, including the lights on the Lazarus bldg, and the snow covered everything below. At the time, the City National bldg was the second tallest in the city!
Stouffer’s opened One Nation (atop the Nationwide Plaza One Bldg.) in 73. Not sure how much longer the Top survived after that. I have the fondest childhood memories of those years. Sure wish the Top was still around!
Top of the Riverfront – St. Louis, Missouri
Opened: April 5, 1969
Closed: January, 2014
Location: 30th Floor, Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn, 200 South Fourth St.
The barrel-shaped, modern style hotel constructed of concrete and glass was designed in 1964 by New York architect William B. Tabler and completed in 1969.
The construction of the 400-room Riverfront Inn coincided with the building of the Gateway Arch, the second Busch Stadium and the CBS as a part of a serious urban renewal plan for St. Louis is the late 1960s.
The Top of the Riverfront was the only revolving restaurant in the Stouffer’s family and it operated atop the hotel (known by many names over the years) from its highly celebrated opening to its quiet closing in 2014.
It would take the restaurant almost 80 minutes to complete a full 360 degree revolution. According to National Register of Historic Places Registration documents only five other similar structures had been built previously nationwide. The building complex was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Before its National Register listing, the idea of demolition had been brought forth.
There have been rumblings of renovating the hotel and opening the revolving restaurant but there is no time frame for completion
Top of the Triangle – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Opened: August 17, 1971
Closed: September 29, 2001
Location: 62nd Floor, U.S. Steel Building, 600 Grant Street
The U.S. Steel building
The restaurant had a preview opening on August 13, 1971. Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates cut the ribbon and escorted the first guest Mrs. Donald M. Campsey of Claysville, Pennsylvania into the restaurant. It officially opened for business four days later.
Top of the Triangle featured a pair of dining rooms that sat a total of 230 people. The cocktail lounge had accommodations for 75 and nightly entertainment. There was also a room called the Downtown Club that shared the 62nd floor with the U.S. Steel executive dining rooms.
Top of the Triangle was fairly successful. For nearly 30 years it provided a view of the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh. Times had changed and the restaurant had not aged. The new owners of the U.S. Steel building called for the restaurant to be demolished in 2001.
Monday, September 17, 2001 By Woodene Merriman, Post-Gazette Dining Critic
For 30 years, the Top of the Triangle has been a premier spot to celebrate a birthday, entertain a potential customer or pop the question to your true love. The Janosko and Tenenini families, in fact, have celebrated other family birthdays there.
For the young (or young at heart) it was exciting to be whizzed up to the 62nd floor on the super-fast elevator. Then, if you were lucky, you got a seat by the windows where you could look out over most all of Pittsburgh. (This is one place, it is said, where you look down on Mount Washington.)
If you were extremely lucky, you got table No. 54, which has the best view of all — three rivers, the stadiums and North Shore, Downtown, Point State Park, Mount Washington.
It’s a big, open restaurant, light and bright, seating 320 people, and the tables are in tiers, so they all have good views. From the beginning, it was known as a sophisticated restaurant, expensive as well as expansive, and the place to go for special occasions. When a young man suddenly got down on his knees to propose between courses, other diners applauded. Diamond engagement rings turned up in glasses of champagne and in fancy desserts. At least once a small plane flew by the windows, trailing a sign, “Will you marry me?”
Also, in 1985 it was estimated that dinner for two would cost $75. Robert Bianco, then the dining critic for The Pittsburgh Press and now a television critic with USA Today, complained that the restaurant was getting ” top-level prices for ground-level food.”
The restaurant has had other ups and downs over the years, and not just from the elevator (where rambunctious young boys were known to jump while the elevator moved for an extra thrill.) In 1987 a fire on a lower floor in the building sent diners scurrying up to the rooftop heliport until the danger was over.
Stouffer’s operated the restaurant when it opened in July 1971, then Nestles and finally Select Restaurants of Cleveland, which also owns Roxy Cafe in South Hills Village and the Cheese Cellar in the Freight House Shops, Station Square. Select was not able to renew the lease. It has been rumored that offices will go into this space or another restaurant. Nothing has been confirmed.
For many years, Top of the Triangle’s popular dessert was Sky High Pie, described on the menu as “lofty layers of ice cream surmounted with a liqueur-flavored meringue, $2.25.” Tableside cooking and old-time favorites like shrimp cocktails, shrimp de jonghe and French onion soup were menu regulars.
Top of the Tower – Louisville, Kentucky
Opened: February 5, 1975
Closed: January, 1984
Location: 38th Floor, First National Bank Tower, 101 South Fifth Street
Top of the Tower, the 12th Stouffer’s Top of The… restaurant for the franchise, opened on the 38th floor of the First National Bank in downtown Louisville on February 5, 1975
At the time it opened, the First National Bank Tower was the tallest building in Kentucky, Indiana or Tennessee.
The restaurant sat 154 guests in the main dining room, another 24 in a private function room and 66 in its cocktail lounge.
Top of the Tower, like the others built in the mid-late 1970s, had a short shelf life. Changing tastes, Stouffer’s restructuring and turmoil at the First National Bank lead to the closing of the restaurant in early 1984.
Top of Centre Square – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opened: February 13, 1975
Closed: June 11, 1993
Location: 41st Floor, First Pennsylvania Tower at 15th and Market Sts.
Top of Centre Square opened in to a ton of fanfare and buzz around Philadelphia. The restaurant, at the top of the fairly new First Pennsylvania Bank Building at 1500 Market Street never seemed like it would open. Construction delays and general set-up would delay the restaurant for a while.
Starting in the mid-1960s, developer Jack Wolgin began development of a high-rise complex in the West Market area of Philadelphia. There were multiple buildings on the plot of land that Wolgin wanted. He sought help from the city. He got it. In 1969, the city condemned all of the buildings and the entire area was leveled. That would not, however be the last problem that would need to be solved.
The complex, originally meant to be two steel towers ran way over budget and had to be redesigned just months before the project was set to begin. Concrete was used instead of steel to get the budget down some. The project was completed in 1973 at a cost of $80 million with First Pennsylvania Bank and its anchor tenant.
Construction remained even after the building was open. The top floor that would house the newest Stouffer’s venture was not finished for a few months.
After the building has been opened for a year, Top of the Centre opened on the 41st floor on February 11, 1975 after all of the construction had been fully finished
The favorite spot in Top of Centre Square was the William Penn Room where diners could see City Hall and east towards the Delaware River.
The near constant critique of the Top of The…restaurants was that the views were outstanding but the food was not. Top of Centre Square was exactly the same way.
I don’t usually quote Wikipedia but this says what I want to say better than I could:
Top of Centre Square is best known for Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture, Clothespin, in the plaza in front of the building. A fan of contemporary art, developer Jack Wolgin commissioned three works under Philadelphia’s percent for art program: Clothespin, Jean Dubuffet’s Milord la Chamarre, and a series of banners by Alexander Calder. The works helped Philadelphia gain a reputation for promoting public art.
In 1993, the Stouffer’s name was dropped from the Top of the Mart and just a few months later it closed for good.
Top of the Plaza – Houston, Texas
Opened: August 1975
Closed: STILL OPEN
Location: 20th Floor of the Stouffer’s Greenway Plaza Hotel, Six Greenway Plaza
The Greenway Plaza Hotel opened in August, 1975. Located at the newly built Greenway Plaza, the hotel and restaurant are still open to this day as Renaissance Hotel.
The Top of the Plaza in this hotel was barely mentioned and obviously not one of the top features designed to lure travelers.
The hotel is connected to an underground shopping and fast-food dining mall.
The hotel remained a Stouffer’s until at least the early 1990s. Little tidbits of semi-interesting NBA and pop culture trivia appear when you research the Greenway Plaza.
The first item appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 12, 1986:
Officials of the Stouffer Greenway Plaza Hotel are trying to collect about $50,000 from Houston Rockets guard Lewis Lloyd for a five-month stay, a hotel spokesman said.
Lloyd, 27, leased three rooms at the hotel from September through January. The rooms were reportedly occupied by Lloyd, his brother and a friend.
Rex Graham, an accountant who has worked on Lloyd’s financial records, said the tab included charges by other people without Lloyd’s knowledge. “He was taken advantage of,” Graham said.
Lloyd, a three-year starter averaging 16.9 points a game in the regular season, signed a three-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Rockets on Sept. 27, 1985 that is worth $675,000.
Lewis Lloyd would be banned by the NBA later that year for cocaine abuse.
The second item is minor but kind of a fun bit of useless trivia. In 1990, Madonna hosted a big party after kicking off her “Blonde Ambition” tour at the Summit Arena (now Lakewood Church) next door. The party was filmed for Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary.
The hotel and restaurant are still standing and are now known as the Doubletree Greenway Plaza.
Top of the Plaza – Dayton, Ohio
Opened: Early 1976
Closed: STILL OPEN
Location: Fifth and Jefferson
The newest addition to the rising Dayton skyline. Located between the Dayton Convention Center (Exhibition Hall) and the Transportation Center, connected to both by skywalks on the second level public floor. Over three hundred spacious guest rooms, luxurious Hospitality Suites, heated swimming pool, gift shop, newsstand and modern meeting facilities. Experience magnificent rooftop dining at Top of the Plaza, or enjoy hearty drinks and oversized sandwiches in the Grogshop.
The Dayton Plaza Hotel was built in 1976 at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson in downtown Dayton, Ohio.
There is not much information to be found about the place. It remained a Stouffer’s property throughout the 1980s. It still stands today but it is now known as the Crowne Plaza Dayton.
The restaurant, now longer a Stouffer’s but still called Top of the Plaza, is still serving food a view of Dayton from their rooftop floor.
Top of the Crown – Cincinnati, Ohio
Opened: May 9, 1978
Closed: January 1, 1984
Location: 32nd Floor of the Stouffer’s Cincinnati Tower, 141 W. 6th Street
The last Top of the….restaurant to open and the shortest-lived, The Top of the Crown opened to much fanfare on May 9, 1978.
Offering a “Victorian atmosphere featuring rich colors of rust and gold,” the dining area on the 31st floor sat 348 people and offered a great view of the
One of only three Top of the…restaurants in a Stouffer’s owned hotel property, The Top of the Crown was doomed from the beginning. Stouffer’s was going through numerous changes and restructurings in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In June of 1983 it was announced that as of the beginning of the next year, eleven Stouffer hotels, including the Cincinnati Towers were to be renamed Clarion Hotels. As far as I can tell, The Top of the Crown ceased to exist after that. It certainly didn’t last through 1985, as the trademark for the name expired.
Top of the Seasons – Des Moines, Iowa
Opened: January 29, 1979
Location: Stouffer’s Five Seasons Hotel, 350 First Avenue
This may have been the last Top of the…restaurant to be built but I am not sure. Every time I think I have them all, I seem to find another. I have found these last three places after searching for the others. There very well could be one or two more.
The Stouffer’s Five Season hotel opened on January 29, 1979. There were 284 rooms in the tower located in the heart of Des Moines.
Featuring a ballroom that could hold up to 1600 people, The Glass Parrot cocktail lounge with top flight entertainment, The Top of the Seasons was, very briefly, the hotspot in Des Moines.
However, like the previous few restaurants, Stouffer’s restaurants and hotels at this time were in major turmoil and tastes had changed so dramatically that The Five Seasons Hotel would remain a Stouffer’s franchise for about a decade and the restaurant would only last until around 1983 or 1984. I haven’t found the date just yet.
The hotel becoming the Crowne Plaza Hotel by the time of the June 2008 flood. The flood permanently damaged the signature escalators that were a popular feature of the hotel/convention/arena complex.