White Station Tower's "Top of the Tower" Restaurant



photo courtesy Key Magazine

In the many decades since I've been writing my "Ask Vance" column (begun, as I recall, when I was laid up with my wartime injuries at Kennedy General Hospital), one of the topics often discussed has been the name of the revolving restaurant atop White Station Tower.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that the place originally opened as The Embers — a second location in addition to the older, original Embers at Park and Getwell. And look — as this nice ad from a 1972 issue of Key Magazine shows — after a few years, it changed owners and became the Top of the Tower restaurant.

I like some of the wording in this old ad, especially that bit about the "dining rooms that seem to blend with the stars."

Revolving restaurants were all the rage in the 1960s, it seems, and Memphis had three of them (atop the 100 North Main Building, and the Mid-City Building at Union and Cleveland). They never spun fast enough to cause motion sickness; in fact, if you didn't enjoy a long, leisurely meal at Top of the Tower, it's unlikely you even made a full rotation — or is it revolution?

In later years, the 24th floor of the White Station Tower was home to a fine-dining establishment called The Pyrenees, and perhaps a few other places after that. It doesn't rotate anymore; the building management tells me the space is now occupied by executive offices.

As I recall, Barney Katzerman, whose scribbled name appears on this ad, owned other restaurants around town. Someday, if I feel like it, I may talk about those. For now, though, haven't I done enough for one day?

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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