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‘Seasoned” chef introduces new menu at CK’s

For decades, the revolving CK’s Restaurant has offered superb views and exceptional cuisine atop the Tampa Airport Marriott. Executive chef Henry Nagel has continued this tradition with a new menu that emphasizes fresh meats and seafood enlivened with herbs and spices to excite the palate.


Tampa, FL - Comfortable and lavish, CK’s Restaurant is one of the most memorable destinations to dine by its location alone. Perched atop the Tampa Airport Marriott – 10 stories high – CK’s revolves at an undetectable half-mile an hour to provide guests spectacular vistas of the bay, downtown Tampa, and the departure and landing strips, which are illuminated in blue at night. Yet breathtaking sunsets are not the only treasures served here. Executive chef Henry Nagel sees to that.


Many revolving restaurants around the world rely on the view so much they forget about the quality of their food. But CK’s ( is turning that idea on its head with a new dinner menu created by Nagel that emphasizes fresh fish and beef and organic chicken, pork and lamb dishes accentuated with herbs, spices and seasonings rather than creamy sauces.


Lobster and Shitake Dumplings, Jumbo Lump Crabcake, Seared Ahi Tuna and Fricassee of Escargot in Phyllo are among the featured appetizers. The meats are highlighted by selections like Organic Pan Roasted Chicken, Organic Virginia Lamb Rack, Chipotle Maple Pork T-Bone, Slow Roasted Prime Rib, and the Naturally Grown Corn Finished Dry Aged Buffalo Ribeye Steak. Traditional favorites such as the Chargrilled Filet Mignon and the Chargrilled New York Strip remain on the menu

Pacific Coast Wild Salmon with Horseradish Crust, Grilled Swordfish with Basil Butter, Cajun Spiced Sea Bass, Macadamia Sesame Mahi Mahi, Spicy Rubbed Jumbo Day Boat Scallops and Sugar Cane Skewered Crispy Grouper are some of the seafood choices. Vegetarians may prefer the Eggplant Pillows and Mixed Greens, and Low Carb Linguini Vegetable Saute.


“This is not a restaurant with a view, it’s a destination,” Nagel explained. “Especially wit h this new menu, CK’s is a place where guests come for exceptional cuisine, a relaxing and romantic ambience and an incredible view. Dinner at CK’s is an experience.”


Established in 1974 and adorned with a decor that was inspired by a heroic World War I aviator, CK’s outstanding cuisine and magnificent range of wines and spirits superbly complement the view and interior design. A recent fall night illustrated the ambience that led to CK’s recognition as one of the best romantic restaurants in Tampa Bay as guests sipped on orange cosmopolitans and melon martinis and dined on pan roasted range chicken and chipotle maple glazed t-bone pork chops. The background was accentuated by soft jazz performed by local musician Derrick Williams as the sun slowly set over the Gulf of Mexico, the vista of endless water replaced by the lights of boats in the distance.


Long before Nagel was executive chef at CK’s, he was a 15-year-old high school student in Passaic, N.J. washing dishes at a deli and dreaming of a career in journalism, which he studied along with English literature at Rutgers University. He experienced a career detour along the way. After working his way through high school and college at Shupik’s Deli, he took a job at The Manor, a landmark restaurant in West Orange, N.J. that generated $10 million a year in sales in 1977. There, he started as a prep cook and left as a banquet chef – and it was then he decided to pursue a career in the kitchen rather than one in the newsroom.


Nagel, who has earned multiple awards in a culinary career that has included impressive stints at Walt Disney World restaurants and the Marriott New York Marquis Times Square, believes in enhancing his food’s natural flavor instead of disguising it. Thus his reasoning behind replacing thick, creamy sauces with flavored oils, vinegars, juices and purees. At CK’s steaks and seafood are enlivened with dry rubs of herbs and spices. Nagel also decided to make potatoes a side dish option and serve all entrees with vegetables, reflecting America’s passion for healthier fare and fewer carbohydrates.


“Some older guests who are accustomed to the traditional meat and potatoes dishes don’t like the chance, but most people have responded favorably,” said Nagel, who has earned multiple American Culinary Federation gold, silver and bronze medal awards. “The presentation is much better, and the meals are healthier that way. Of course, you are free to substitute potatoes in place of the vegetables if you prefer.”


Nagel takes pride in being an integral part of a landmark that represents a part of American pop culture that is becoming a rarity in the 21st century.


Captivating guests with savory cuisine and breathtaking views from China to the United States, the revolving restaurant is an American idea that conquered the world. What began as an architectural folly for the 1962 World's Fair has spread to almost every corner of the globe, atop broadcast towers like the Space Needle and crowning modern glass-and-steel hotels. These spinning dining rooms became symbols of optimism, progress, and success in post-World War II America.


Yet the number of revolving restaurants continues to dwindle. Some have simply stopped rotating; others have been refurbished into conference centers. The Stratosphere in Las Vegas is one of the few revolving restaurants that have been built in the United States in recent years. In regions such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the revolving restaurant is still considered as a sign of progress - an emblem of prosperity, not kitsch. During the 1990s, a new wave of revolving restaurants sprouted around the world - from Lebanon to Jakarta to Cairo.


Though revolving restaurants are becoming a relic of the past – much like the malt shop and the corner hardware store - CK’s has remained one of Tampa Bay’s most enduring fine dining institutions – an impressive feat in a city whose restaurant scene changes swiftly. CK’s opened in a decade that marked the pinnacle of revolving restaurants in the United States, yet the idea of dinner accompanied by a high-altitude view dates back at least to the Eiffel Tower, which has featured a restaurant at its second platform since debuting in 1889.


The moment guests walk out of the elevator that opens to CK’s casual chic bar decorated with nostalgic aeronautical artifacts, they are treated to a true dining experience – from the impeccable service and exceptional cuisine to the captivating view and the romantic mood. Every seat in the restaurant provides a panoramic picture 150 feet above the busy tarmac. As the restaurant revolves, it passes the lighted open kitchen where chefs carefully prepare the selections.


Since opening in 1974, CK’s has paid homage to the legend of World War I aces like Duerson C. Knight with its aviation decor. At the same time, the restaurant has created a renowned reputation of its own as the perfect place for a memorable dinner and captivating vistas. With Nagel’s culinary touches, CK’s has infused a new identity while retaining the original charm and nostalgia of a revolving restaurant where the cuisine is as rewarding as the view.



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