The Rainbow Room is a fine-dining restaurant and event space previously run by the Cipriani family on the 65th floor of the Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. It is the second highest restaurant in New York City behind One Dine on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center.
Opened in 1934, it was the first restaurant to be located in a high-rise building and remained the highest elevated restaurant in the United States for decades. Suffering from a decline in business following the financial crisis of 2007–08, the restaurant closed in 2009. In 2012, it was declared a New York City landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission. On September 17, 2013, it was announced that the Rainbow Room would reopen in fall 2014 after undergoing a full restoration along with a new executive chef and management team. After a years-long restoration process by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, it reopened to the public on October 5, 2014, with new owner-operator Tishman Speyer. The renovation includes the landmarked dance floor and a new cocktail lounge called SixtyFive.
The Rainbow Room was originally designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison of Associated Architects and interior designer Elena Bachman-Schmidt in 1934. Supposedly inspired by French architect Jacques Carlu Round Room, the Rainbow Room draws its inspiration from the Round Room in the Carlu, his design for a restaurant in Toronto. Designed in a simplified classical style, The Rainbow Room featured a revolving dance floor, a live big band orchestra, and a view of the New York City skyline. Private events were hosted in several banquet rooms on the floor below. Culinarily, the Rainbow Room has focused on Modern american cuisine.
On the same floor of the Comcast building was The Rainbow Grill, a separate, somewhat less expensive restaurant that had an à la carte menu and its own celebrations on major holidays.The Rainbow Room first opened on October 3, 1934, and was originally conceived as a formal supper club, where the elite and influential of New York could gather to socialize over cocktails, dine on fine cuisine, and dance to the strains of legendary Barry Winton's Orchestra (Band) on a revolving floor.Facing competition from other upscale restaurants in New York including the Equitable Center and Battery Park City, the restaurant was closed for nearly two years beginning in 1985 as it underwent a $25 million restoration and expansion to 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2). David Rockefeller, the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., commissioned the restoration, led by Joe Baum, Arthur Emil, and architect Hugh Hardy.
In 1988, Phil Donahue presented a special from the Rainbow Room, honoring Mary Martin, with Steve Leeds leading the Rainbow Room Orchestra, and guest vocalists Michael Feinstein, and Nancy Wilson. Bandleader Leeds sang the final number 'Isn't It Romantic?'.
In 1998, the Rockefeller family passed operations of the facilities of the restaurant over to the Italian Cipriani S.A. family, founders of the renowned Harry's Bar in Venice, as well as several other restaurants in New York City.
The Ciprianis extensively remodeled the grill and fired all union workers. In 2003 Michael DiLeonardo, an associate of Peter Gotti, turned state's evidence against the accused mobster. In his testimony DiLeonardo said the Ciprianis gave $120,000 to the Gambino crime family to make union problems at the Rainbow Room disappear. The charges were never confirmed.
On New Year's Eve, the price of admission included caviar, truffles, champagne, and mixed drinks, and access to the Rainbow Room from dinner through breakfast the next morning. Admission to the 2007 New Year's Eve party was $1600.00 per person.
In 2008, the Cipriani company filed a brief with the City of New York, requesting that the Rainbow Room be designated a historic landmark. The designation would prevent the Rainbow Room from being converted into office space.
In 2009 the Ciprianis announced that they planned to close the grill although part would remain open as a bar and banquet hall. The Ciprianis' chief operating officer blamed 'the current economic crisis in New York and around the world, on top of an ongoing dispute with our landlord.' Tishman Speyer said it intended to evict the Ciprianis unless they paid back rent. The two sides settled the dispute, with the Ciprianis' agreeing to give up possession of the restaurant and banquet hall on August 1, 2009. The last night of dancing at the former hot spot took place on June 5, 2009, and the Grill closed its kitchen on Father's Day, June 21, 2009.
As of mid-2011, it was announced that work had begun on remodeling the restaurant for its reopening. On October 16, 2012, the Rainbow Room was declared a New York City landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission. After a five-year hiatus, it reopened on October 5, 2014.