By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Mar 09, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Milwaukee's iconic revolving restaurant, Polaris, is closing.

I was just having a conversation about the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee the other day. It centered on the fact that this circle in Milwaukee's skyline had kind of lost is way and its buzz. A friend and I remarked that it had been years since we'd been to Polaris and the while we dine and drink at other Downtown hotels regularly, the Hyatt's just not on our list.

Well, maybe this is all about to change as today I got word that Milwaukee's iconic revolving restaurant, Polaris, is closing (to the public, at least). It will reopen for private events, though. Polaris opened in 1980. It completes one revolution every 70 minutes, offering diners a panoramic view of the city.

For nearly three decades, Milwaukeeans and visitors have ascended to the 20th floor of the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee for some of the city's best views. As Wisconsin's only revolving rooftop restaurant and lounge, Polaris has been home to engagements, first dates, anniversaries, Valentine's Day celebrations and many other special occasions. Personally, I remember Easter Brunch and watching the fireworks (on July 3 and 4 you could see at least five displays at once).

"Polaris is a legendary restaurant dear to many Milwaukeeans hearts," said Gerald Rappaport, general manager of Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. "While we're sad to see it close, we're also very excited to unveil a fresh restaurant concept that will focus on new American cuisine with a local twist," said Rappaport.

The restaurant will close its doors at the conclusion of Easter brunch on April 12. The closure is part of the hotel's massive renovation project, which will introduce a new signature restaurant for the hotel on the lobby level in the former Knuckles Sports Bar in May. The Polaris space, as I mentioned, will only be utilized for private functions.

Bigger news, though, is that by May the Hyatt will be practically brand new.  With its location near the Bradley Center and U.S. Cellular Arena, it's a signature building in Milwaukee, and a fresh, new look is more than welcome.

Noble Investment Group bought the 483-room hotel in 2007. The privately held Noble will spend more than $19 million by the time the renovation is completed.

As a final farewell to Polaris, Hyatt Regency Milwaukee will collect Milwaukeeans most memorable moments at the revolving rooftop eatery. The contest, "Remembering Polaris," will award the diner with the most romantic story or photo with a grand romance package that will include an overnight stay in a newly renovated suite, dinner for two, tickets for two to a show, Champagne and strawberries at turndown, breakfast delivered to the room and a late checkout.

Entries can be e-mailed to George Herrera at or mailed to Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, c/o Remembering Polaris, 333 W. Kilbourn Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203. The deadline for submission is Friday, April 10.

In addition, all who dine at Polaris through April 12 will receive a complimentary glass of Champagne when they mention the Remembering Polaris promotion.

Keep reading as I'll have a "Milwaukee Talks" with Gerald Rappaport, general manager of Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, in the coming weeks. 

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.