Windows on the World was a fixture in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It occupied nearly 50,000 square feet on the 106th and 107th floors--a quarter-mile high--and it was once the top-grossing restaurant in the country. With painstaking detail, journalist Tom Roston (I Lost It at the Video Store) relied on more than 125 sources to craft a superbly drawn portrait of an esteemed restaurant that was once a sophisticated pillar of New York City, catering to elites and tourists alike.
Windows launched in 1976. Roston shares a behind-the-scenes history of how the restaurant was conceived; the many culinary, creative and business challenges surmounted; and juicy stories about the power players, politicians and patrons who pioneered--and maintained--its legendary existence. Most notable was restaurateur Joe Baum, a forward-thinking, innovative perfectionist who demanded the same from his peers and subordinates.
Roston's richly detailed narrative chronicles how Windows rose in prominence, shining like a beacon of hope during the tumultuous 1970s. Stories about management and employees--many of them immigrants, some undocumented--reveal how diversity played a significant role in the success of a restaurant that was forced to adapt and evolve, including when Windows went dark for three years following the 1993 bomb attack on the World Trade Center. Sections chronicling events leading up to, through and beyond 9/11--how everyone working and dining at the restaurant that day perished--are particularly riveting and utterly heartbreaking. Through it all, Roston shows how this lavish destination restaurant in Manhattan--"Versailles in the sky"--is a landmark to be remembered. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines