John Jacob Astor was the first billionaire in the US, amassing a fortune in fur trading, real estate, and exports to China. He also created the first trust. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person in the US, and, using 2010 dollars as an equivalent, he ranks as the 4th richest person in American history. Local legend in Duluth has him dying on the Titanic, which would have been a cool story, had he not died decades earlier.
Curt Carlson, founder of the Radisson Hotels, was also a billionaire, founding the Gold Bond Trading Stamp company after a stint at P&G. He bought the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel in 1960, and started a second phase of his career which eventually included hotels, restaurants, and hospitality companies around the world. 10 years after his first hotel acquisition, he built the Radisson Duluth, which encompasses the cylindrical hotel design, so popular at the time, replicated at so many urban Holiday Inns, and taking its place in history forever with John Portman’s 4,000 foot tall (well it seems like it) Westin Peachtree (original name) in Atlanta.
These three elements come together in the relaunch of the Radisson Duluth’s rooftop revolving restaurant, JJ Astor’s, whose opening coincides with the complete refurbishment of the hotel, a modern updating using retro decorating and furniture, from top to bottom.
Time was, the Radisson revolving restaurant (where was the first one, anyway?) was the place for several things: the big date; mother’s and father’s days; engagements, anniversaries and birthdays. Now they hope to take a place in regular dining and lounge choices for Duluthians, and even shut off the “turntable” in the afternoons for Happy Hour. (kind, folks!).
Minnesota Burger Reporter and the Minnesota Burger Posse stopped by JJ Astor’s for lunch the other day, and reported a generally very positive experience. They like the house-made pickles which had a hint of garlic. Plates came with fresh cut fries, which were excellent, but not mentioned on the menu as a feature. Two of the posse enjoyed the cheeseburgers, one had the pan-fried Walleye sandwich, a common fixture on Duluth menus. The Walleye is a local fish, full name “Walleyed Pike,” but it actually isn’t a member of the pike family. Go figure!
Astor’s hot young chef brings a new twist to local favorites, employing the ‘simple is better’ technique so popular today.
The Radisson stands at 6th Avenue West and Superior St., near the site of the base of the formerly famous Duluth funicular. (Oh, look it up!).
It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the menu is online.