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Home > CRUISING THE PAST > Ports of Call: New York – The recession has reached the ritzy Rainbow Room – Home to Manhattan glamour and sophistication – The famous Rockefeller Center nightspot many people visited before sailing aboard famous liners from Manhattan will close temporarily.

Ports of Call: New York – The recession has reached the ritzy Rainbow Room – Home to Manhattan glamour and sophistication – The famous Rockefeller Center nightspot many people visited before sailing aboard famous liners from Manhattan will close temporarily.

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The famous Rainbow Room in the 1940s.  Live radio broadcasts were heard on NBC from the nightspot.

The recession has reached the ritzy Rainbow Room, the special-occasion spot that overlooks midtown Manhattan from high above the tourist-attracting Rockefeller Center skating rink.

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The Rainbow Room – 1990s

Since the 1930s, passengers sailing from New York on the great liners would visit the famous nightspot.

WNBC-TV reports that the owners plan to shutter the Italian-themed Rainbow Grill restaurant temporarily while keeping the establishment’s bar, banquet space and dinner-dancing going on the 65th floor of the RCA building.  The Rainbow Room has symbolized glamour since it opened in 1934, during the Great Depression.

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The Rainbow Room in the 1940s.

In 1934, in the depth of the greatest depression in history, John D. Rockefeller Sr. completed his testimony to faith in New York City and the economy of America, Rockefeller Center. From that time Rockefeller Center would be the benchmark that all urban development is measured against. The crowning jewel of this magnificent project was the Rainbow Room on the sixty-fifth floor of Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, the tallest and most prominent building in the complex. The room was designed to symbolize all the glamour and elegance of New York nightlife. From its opening day the Rainbow Room has epitomized Manhattan luxury to both native New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.

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Dancing in the Rainbow Room – late 1940s.

ABOUT THE RAINBOW ROOM

Since its debut on October 3, 1934, the Rainbow Room has epitomized New York style, glamour and sophistication. The Rainbow Room was conceived as a formal supper club, an intimate establishment where the elite and influential of New York could gather to socialize over cocktails, dine on fine cuisine, dance to the strains of legendary big bands on a revolving floor bathed in color lights from the organ.

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In 1974 John D. Rockefeller’s son David oversaw a painstaking twenty-five million dollar restoration and expansion of the Rainbow Room’s facilities, ushering in a new era of prominence for what many architects and designers consider to be the “most perfect room in New York”.

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In 1918 a military fed young man named Giuseppe Cipriani answered an ad for a chef de rang position at the Hotel des Alpes in Madonna di Campiglio. The young Cipriani knew nothing about waiting tables, but with diligence and hard work quickly discovered the secrets of service that are now referred to as “the old school.” Within the next few years, Cipriani went from hotel to hotel learning everything there was to know about luxurious service, commitment to the customer, the importance of detail, the essentials of bartending, and the quality of food and spirits.

On May 13, 1931 Giuseppe Cipriani and Harry Pickering embarked on a business venture that would soon become a legend, Harry’s Bar in Venice Italy. The 350 square-foot restaurant and bar applied all of Cipriani’s know-how into an elegant yet comfortable establishment that catered to world famous aristocrats, film stars, artists, and poets. Combining exquisite service with delicious Italian cuisine Harry’s Bar quickly became the standard in luxury, enticing loyal customers for over 68 years. Two of the many notable influences of Harry’s Bar on the art of gastronomy are the Bellini and the Beef Carpaccio. Giuseppe created the peach and Prosecco cocktail and filet mignon dish to satisfy his multitude of customers; he humbly considered his ingenuity part of his trade. Harry’s Bar is now considered one of the top ten restaurants in the world. Giuseppe eventually fulfilled his dream of owning a fine hotel when he opened the Hotel Cipriani in Venice in 1958, leaving Harry’s Bar to his son Arrigo.

As the acclaim for Harry’s Bar grew, duplication seemed inevitable, Arrigo and son Guiseppe migrated west with the Cipriani restaurant to New York and eventually to Hong Kong and London. Arrigo maintained the ambience of Harry’s Bar in each of the new locations, and like Harry’s Bar all of the restaurants attract customers who demand and expect the best. Each restaurant, though unique, still relies upon the basic premise of quality, simplicity and a smile.

Now there are several Cipriani restaurants scattered over New York including, Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue, Cipriani Dolci in Grand Central, Downtown Cipriani in Soho, Cipriani 42nd Street, and the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Plaza all similar to the original Harry’s Bar in Venice, yet all different enough to have their own identity.

When eating at any of these fine restaurants the adept patron will notice several amenities that make the dining experience full and rich. The tables, the dishware, the food, the cocktails and the servers all subtly subdue the diner with elegance and taste, yet at the same time are not overwhelming or flamboyant. Naturally the food and drinks are delicious, and staying true to the simple nature of the Cipriani attitude, traditional Italian.

The Cipriani attitude epitomizes fine dining, and anyone who has experienced this will agree with Arrigo that, ” there is always a little bit of love in our service.”

In 1998 Rockefeller Center approached the Cipriani family of Venice, to take over the operation of the Rainbow Room facilities. The Cipriani family has achieved legendary status for their restaurants in Italy, New York, Hong Kong, and London by their commitment to the highest standards of food and service. Their guiding principles, established in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani the founder of Harry’s Bar, are to serve the finest food in a simple straight forward manner with precision and care.

Now this same expertise and dedication is being applied to the Rainbow Room to make it once more New York’s premier showcase.