“Everybody there was the best at what they did. It was a special, special place. And then the next day, it was gone,” Glenn Vogt says about his fellow Windows on the World workers when asked to recount his experience on September 11, 2001 to Westchester Magazine back in 2015.
The owner of Tarrytown’s RiverMarket Bar and Kitchen was the general manager of Windows on the World, the famed restaurant atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center, occupying the 106th and 107th floors.
On Wednesday, September 25, the spirit of that famed restaurant and the 500 employees who brought it to life were celebrated at RiverMarket, alongside a new book from journalist Tom Roston that delves into the legacy of Windows on the World and provides the life stories of the names and figures who created and ran The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World, as the book is titled.
At the event, Roston observed that the history of the restaurant parallels the history of New York City and its restaurant scene, then pointed out how Windows on the World was shaped by the politics and zeitgeists of its time. The restaurant quickly became a hotspot for celebrities of every kind, including Bill Clinton, Cher, and John Lennon.
More personally, he expressed how the restaurant’s employees were more like family than coworkers, a fact that was supported by the comradery shared among the event attendees who were former workers at the restaurant. Stories and testimonials were shared by many, including Vogt and Kevin Zraly, wine director for the Windows on the World restaurant and founder of the Windows on the World Wine School.
An underlying message that, although the events of 9/11 were tragic, there was beauty and positivity that grew from the tragedy’s aftermath pervaded the evening. Vogt himself helped form a charity, Windows of Hope, for Windows employees and other food-service workers to seek immediate and long-term financial help after the tragedy’s events. That fund ultimately raised $30 million, with $20 million dispersed for everyday expenses such as rent, food, and clothing, and another $10 million earmarked for the education of victims’ children from pre-school to grad school.
While the restaurant no longer stands, its legacy lives on in Roston’s book and in the minds of those who worked there, ate there, and celebrated life at the top of the world.
“The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World and the Rebirth of New York” by Tom Roston (Abrams Press, $28).