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A restaurant with set tables of light wood, walls of window, and zig-zag lighting.

The Hidden Design Inspirations in Crown Block, Reunion Tower’s New Restaurant

Plus, the reason the restaurant won’t spin

A view inside Crown Block.
| Kathy Tran
Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

Crown Block: it’s the restaurant opening today at in Reunion Tower, with a design that pays tribute to Texas’ oil history.

A crown block, for those who don’t work on oil rigs, is a stationary section on top of an oil well that holds the system of pulleys that drill lines are threaded through. It, along with the traveling block, lifts heavy loads, up to hundreds of thousands of pounds. When owners Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla were working on a name, they thought about Ray L. Hunt, one of the backers of building Reunion Tower, whose family founded Hunt Oil.

They played with that idea, discussing the idea of a crowns sitting atop the heads of royalty, and if it felt substantial enough to crown a steakhouse. “It was just something fun, and not taking it too literally,” Blau tells Eater Dallas.

That thread of Texas oil runs is carried through the restaurant’s artwork, which was all commissioned by Art + Artisans. A custom piece done for the restaurant by Austin artist Kristi Battani features folds engineering logs from local oil rigs that are coated with colored resin.

A set table with blue chairs is against a wooden wall. Above it are six pieces of artwork made from folded paper.
Kristi Battani’s custom artwork in Crown Block features engineering logs coated in resin.
Kathy Tran

There is also drill bit sculpture by San Antonio artist and founder of Night Owl Fabrication, Alejandro Luna that uses found materials that the artist cast in resin.

A wooden wall holds multiple resin-casted drill bits.
Alejandro Luna’s resin-casted drill bit sculptures.
Bryana Iglesias

There is the eye-catching coal-based art by Santa Fe artist William T. Carson. These custom-made pieces are evocative of the toughness of Texas, according to Bryana Iglesias of Art + Artisans.

A wooden wall holds a trio of paintings made with coal.
William T. Carson’s coal art.
Bryana Iglesias

The interiors were designed by CoberKoeda, a Dallas-based interior design firm that works in a mix of residential and commercial spaces. One of the overwhelming themes are the colors found in blue topaz, the Texas state gem, as another reference to the state’s geology. It’s in the plates and matching wallpaper, the fabric of the furniture, the drill bit artwork — and it mirrors the blue skies that surround the circular restaurant.

“The key to the design is not to take anything away from the views, which is a huge asset to this Dallas icon,” CoberKoeda says in an email to Eater Dallas. “The vista becomes the biggest ‘wall’ element of the restaurant.”

A blue plate with gold flourishes and a white center sits on a marble table top, garnished with silverware.
The plates at Crown Block, in the blue of the Texas state gem.
Kathy Tran

Among the most impactful design elements in the restaurant is the newly added trifecta of pastry station, sushi station, and bar that greet diners as they enter the space, complimented by a glassed-in, temperature-controlled wine wall. The marble-topped counters, and the entirely marble bar, are meant to be show-stoppers, Blau says. They are also the reason the restaurant won’t spin — putting the marble bar in wasn’t possible without it sitting over the rotation mechanism.

A marble bar with under lighting is lined with barstools on the bottom and bottles of liquor on top.
The bar at Crown Block is made entirely of marble.
Kathy Tran

Blau wanted guests to have a space to congregate when they arrived, where they enjoy the view of the Downtown skyline. Having the feature was integral to the desire to create a dinner party atmosphere, the team felt. “It was a simple decision that you are going to have a far better dining experience,” Blau says. “And you are still going to get the drama of the beautiful views wherever you sit.”

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