For over 45 years, the experience of dining over the city with a one-of-a-kind 360-degree view has attracted visitors from all over the world to Dallas’s iconic 50-story Reunion Tower. Its legend continues with Crown Block, which will debut on April 17.
Built in 1978, the 560-foot Reunion Tower, affectionately known as “The Ball,” was the brainchild of billionaire Ray L. Hunt of Hunt Realty Investments and John Scovell, now founder and chairman of the Woodbine Development Corporation. Inspired by an early French settlement in the area, “La Reunion,” the tower and accompanying Hyatt Regency Dallas hotel were part of a city redevelopment project, including Union Station. In 1998, the surrounding complex was added, creating the iconic structure Dallasites know today.
“My grandfather’s vision for Reunion Tower was to create a space that could weave community into the fabric of downtown,” Hunt’s grandson, Tyler Kleinert, tells Eater Dallas. Kleinert is overseeing the opening of Crown Block for Hunt Realty Investments. “To have the opportunity to launch this new concept exactly 45 years later is pretty exciting. We hope this transformation brings something iconic to new generations of our community.”
Reunion Tower has only hosted two restaurants in its history. It began in 1978 with Antares, which featured floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city in a dining room that rotated every hour. The restaurant was conceived to rotate, Ray Hunt and John Scovell told the Dallas Morning News in 2013 and was originally going to sit on top of the Hyatt hotel. But they thought the rotating rooftops on hotels in Atlanta, New Orleans, and San Francisco looked strange and decided to build a tower in front of the building to hold it instead.
Originally a traditional, white tablecloth steakhouse offering surf and turf, chops, and prime rib, evolving later to include Southwestern influences. In 2006, under chef Andy Tuntivatingorn, New American dishes were added, combining Mediterranean, Asian, and other influences. Then-D magazine food critic Teresa Gubbins described the spring roll as being “big as a burrito” and cited the view as being “Destination with a capital “D,” with prices to match.” Antares closed in 2007 as part of a $55 million renovation of the Tower and Union Station.
After the revamp, the restaurant re-opened in 2009 as Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty, featuring his signature Asian fusion upscale cuisine — although Puck was rarely the chef in the kitchen. Named for how many feet it rose into the air, the restaurant earned raves from Dallas Morning News food critic Leslie Brenner, who wrote she was “blown away” by the food. The remodel included adding a glass pavilion to house a new street-level entrance before ascending a central elevator into a glamourous, 200-seat zen-style dining room. Brenner wrote three years after it opened, “It still adds up to one of the most compelling nights out to be had in a Big D restaurant.” Five Sixty closed during the pandemic, in May 2020, to the disappointment of locals and visitors who saw it as one of the premiere special event restaurants in the city. Notably, it attracts an average of over 700 marriage proposals a year.
As Crown Block, this latest iteration debuts with a new look and menu highlighting local purveyors of steaks and seafood, paired with a generous wine list and cocktails.The 17th floor offers a private event space, the Crown Room, where guests may host brunches, bar mitzvahs, bridal showers — any number of celebratory events.
Dining in the glimmering ball with its panoramic views still offers guests a singular experience. Husband and wife team chef Kim Cantenwalla and Elizabeth Blau of Blau and Associates are familiar with splashy, opening fine dining restaurants, having opened establishments in Las Vegas and Vancouver; likewise, the pair have some experience consulting in Dallas, where they helped launch the Virgin Hotel’s food program, and have worked with Del Frisco and Legends Hospitality. And they are putting their mark on the space from the moment guests step into the elevators, which are all-glass and offer a look at the city skyline. “The absolute star of the show is the bar, with bottles of liquor gleaming, with the incredible skyline of Dallas in the background,” Blau tells Eater Dallas. “It’s going to be a glorious way to start your evening.”