First Coast Finds at The Embers Restaurant | News

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First Coast Finds at The Embers Restaurant

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fifty years ago Jacksonville was home to the largest revolving restaurant in the world. A "space age" First Coast Find that had you spinning. It was called The Embers.

In 1964, Jacksonville officially became a member of the revolving restaurant club. Sitting atop what was the Universal Marion Building was The Embers restaurant, now home to JEA offices. The 250 seat restaurant opened on the 19th floor.

"This was a science fiction place for me. A revolving restaurant," said Jeff Cooper who used to enjoy happy hour here. "After work, why my buddies and I would come here and drink and rotate around." The area is now used as a JEA conference room. Even though it doesn't revolve anymore the view is still quite impressive.

Back 50 years ago this was the place to be seen. Marion Lane, a receptionist across the street, remembers date night at The Embers.

"You like go up and see the lights," said Lane. Bruce Doueck celebrated his 1965 high school graduation with his parents at the restaurant.

"Now one of the funny things that would happen is that the women would put their purses on the ledge and when they go up to leave their purses wouldn't be there because they had been rotating and their purses had been still," said Doueck.

The Embers had an extensive menu. Live lobsters were flown in from Maine every Friday. One floor down was The Embers kitchen which included a walk-in cooler and a dumbwaiter.

"So what they'd do is that they prepare the food and all the trays of food would go into the dumbwaiter and then of course go up to the 19th floor," said Chris Cane, JEA's Facilities Operations.

In another room, through an access pane, you could still see the now frozen gears that made the modern marvel spin. Sometimes a knife would occasionally drop down causing a few problems.

"It was unusual to have at that time so it was a big deal. But then after awhile, the mechanics kept breaking down so it didn't last too terribly long," said Lane.

The Embers closed for good in the early 1970's but those who remember the space age restaurant have fond memories of a Jacksonville Landmark Legend.


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