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Spinning top


A restaurant atop a landmark tower is slated to rotate once again.

Mark Beutler April 2nd, 2013

Sitting quietly atop Oklahoma City’s iconic United Founders Life Tower is a dark, cavernous space of deafening silence.

Not so long ago, however, the spot at 5900 Mosteller Drive was filled with the sound of clinking wine glasses, conversation and soft music.

But the once-grand revolving restaurant originally known as the Chandelle Club appears poised to return to life. Kevin George, whose other endeavors include the Interurban restaurant chain, plans to renovate the space for a grand re-opening.

“This project is something I have worked my entire 20-plus-year restaurant career for,” George said. “I am doing this solo. It is a complete departure from Interurban.”

Founders Tower, built as an office complex in 1963, recently became a permanent fixture on the National Register of Historic Places. A few years ago, the building was converted into residences, while the 20th-floor restaurant’s last incarnation, Nikz at the Top, closed its doors.

“It’s very important to bring this space back to life,” George said. “The building’s architecture is so beautifully unusual. The restaurant and the view 275 feet above Oklahoma City is so breathtaking. The restaurant space itself, with the round glass walls, still feels more modern than anything built today, even though it was built in the 1960s.”

Certain obstacles must be overcome as he and his team prepare to breathe life back into the place as a restaurant specializing in steaks and seafood.

“Well, there are no freight elevators in the building, so the big pieces will either be built on-site or brought up by crane,” he said. “There is a lot of paperwork going on right now.”

The rotating restaurant is one of a few still functional in America.

“It is still operational, but because of its age, we won’t be spinning often,” George said.

A few years ago, the Deep Fork Group wanted to re-open the space under the Chandelle moniker. Those plans never materialized, and George has not yet decided on a name.

“Right now, a lot of things are still being worked out,” he said. “We just had our liquor licenses approved by the city and are in the process of hiring a chef. We will be open for lunch and dinner and are thinking of ways to have a take-out service for homeowners in the residential part of the tower.”

He hopes for an opening by midsummer.

 
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