Dinner With a View
There are several restaurants in Phoenix that provide a stunning view in addition to a meal. The Compass Grill, Orange Sky at Talking Stick, and A Different Pointe of View all offer panoramic vistas in addition to gourmet entrees. But back in the 1960s, there was just one choice for scenic dining: Cloud Nine.
Located on the southwest slope of Shaw Butte in the Phoenix Mountains, Cloud Nine was a small, family owned restaurant that operated from January 21, 1961 through November 8, 1964. Though it was in business for only a short while, the restaurant and its legacy endure to this day.
The primary source of information on the Internet about Cloud Nine Restaurant appears to be an article written by Douglas Towne for the July 2009 issue of Phoenix Magazine. It has the most complete history of the restaurant with names and dates, and has been cited by many other websites and blogs. I will summarize it here, briefly.
A Brief History of Cloud Nine
Cloud Nine was originally built in 1958 as a private residence by Richard and Barbara Baker, who turned it into a public dining room in early 1961. The restaurant was open from 5pm to midnight, and offered excellent views of the city.
Dining at Cloud Nine was a unique experience. Due to the steep nature of the road and the limited parking, patrons were shuttled to the top in either a Land Rover or a Mercury Voyager station wagon. The restaurant was destroyed in a fire in 1964 and was never rebuilt.
How to Visit the Ruins
The ruins of the restaurant are accessible today, and are part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Hikers can follow Trail 306, which is a 4-mile loop of moderate difficulty that goes to the summit of Shaw Butte and passes by the foundation of the old restaurant. A set of concrete steps, a stone wall, and a semi-circular concrete foundation are all that remain of this once great restaurant.