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The Ultimate One-Upmanship in Rooftop Dining


Summer is rooftop bar season, so this blogger set out to review the economics of same in the run-up to the 4th of July. (I know, hardship duty, especially when the general managers kept offering cocktails during the interviews, which naturally had to be conducted in person, not over the phone.)

We found an arms race, at least in Minneapolis, where the season is painfully short all the time and this year was clipped mightily by snow as late as May.

The Uptown Cafeteria spent nearly $1 million in 2010 to build the biggest rooftop in its neighborhood, said an exec at Parasole, its owner.

Then the operator of Crave, which is building restaurants around the country, put a nearly 6,000-square-foot rooftop on its new restaurant downtown. (But not quite 6,000, countered the owner of Seven Skybar up the street—his is the biggest rooftop bar downtown, he says, plus they’ve got a custom-designed fire feature that warms patrons on chilly nights.)

Finally Union Rooftop topped them all, this spring placing a rectractable roof that cost “seven figures” as part of a “multi-million-dollar buildout,” its owner reveals, atop its new restaurant downtown.

Could the race escalate? Well, there’s Dinner in the Sky, a new franchise dreamed up by two Belgian buddies, where 22 diners sitting on a platform and harnessed to their seats are hoisted up by a crane for dinner, dangling 180 feet in the air.

We’ll cover that story in our August print edition. Meanwhile, the rooftop operators we talked to think that’s going too far. “I get vertigo just looking at the images,” said one.


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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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