An iconic piece of the downtown Atlanta skyline roars back to life on December 7, when rotating restaurant Polaris reopens for dinner 22 stories atop the Hyatt Regency hotel. The restaurant closed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
Polaris, which resembles a flying saucer, first opened in 1967. The mechanized restaurant was designed by Atlanta architect John C. Portman Jr. and makes a full rotation every 45 minutes. At the time of its opening, the futuristic design was a symbol of progress in a fast-growing Southern city, spurred on by the expansion of the Atlanta airport and a boom in businesses and population. It became the first fully integrated hotel and restaurant in the city when it opened.
“This hotel and this restaurant have such an iconic stature in this city. We opened back in 1967 and there were lines outside the hotel in order to get up to the restaurant,” says Hyatt area vice president and general manager Derrick Morrow. “We really have taken our time to open back up because we really wanted to make sure we do it the right way.”
Morrow says the hotel’s ties to the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta allows the restaurant to continue that legacy with the “Change Starts Here” initiative to focus on working with Black-owned businesses and brands.
Another initiative continuing at Polaris is the restaurant’s commitment to using local produce and ingredients in its dishes. The menu features meats, cheeses, and produce from 70 area farms and food purveyors. Wines lean toward small producers incorporating sustainable practices, with the bar highlighting liquor from minority-owned companies.
Despite its closure over the last two years, the rooftop beehives were maintained for the Hyatt Regency’s other restaurants and bars. Eight beehives contain close to one million bees at the height of summer, producing hundreds of pounds of honey for the Hyatt Regency each year. Jars of honey from the hotel’s bees are sold in the lobby.
This isn’t the first time Polaris has experienced a lengthy hiatus from the Atlanta dining scene. The restaurant closed in 2004 to undergo a years-long renovation, which included the installation of a rooftop garden and the beehives and a total redesign of the dining room, bar, and lounge. Polaris reopened a decade later in 2014.
Open Wednesday - Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m .to 11 p.m. Reservations for Polaris required.