Hoisting diners skyward on an 11,000-lb steel table, a Belgium-based company is giving new meaning to the phrase “dinner with a view.”
Dinner In The Sky, as the company is known, uses a crane to lift the table, seats, chef, waiters, food and 22 diners as high as 180 ft up. The company has also built a separately-supported “flying stage” to hold a piano and musicians so the guests can enjoy live entertainment while they eat aloft.
The truss-like steel dinner table was the invention of Stefan Kerkhofs, director of Events in the Sky, a company that started out in the bungee-jumping business. Kerkhofs says his new concept was the suggestion of a customer.
“One of our attractions involved lifting people up on a platform and giving them a view of the area,” Kerkhofs says. “One customer suggested it would be nice to eat at that level and watch the sunset.”
Kerkohofs subsequently launched the Dinner In The Sky concept in Europe in 2006.
The company’s suspended table measures 26 ft x 19 ft (8m x 6m) and weighs approximately 17,600 lbs fully loaded (11,000 lbs unloaded). Eight cables, connected at points on all four sides, tether the table to a crane.
“Normally in construction, you would use four cables between the table and the spreader,” Kerkhofs says. “But we doubled everything for safety. So from the table to the spreader, we have eight cables, and from the spreader to the hook of the crane, we have eight cables.”
Diners are locked into their chairs by six-point seat belts that operate from the back side of the seat so they can’t disconnect themselves.
Before introducing the concept to the public, the company worked with safety agencies to test it. During inspection, seats were overloaded with weights of more than 330 lbs (150 kg) each. To test the table’s balance, all the weights were also moved to one side.
“When we put all the 150-kg weights on one side of the table, the difference was minimal,” Kerkhofs says. “There was only a couple of centimeters difference from side to side.”
Kerkhofs also says the table and hoisting system was designed with redundancy in mind. “If one cable fails, it’s not a problem because you have a total of eight cables,” he says. “On any side of the table, you have twice as many cables as you need.”
The company says its system is certified for safety by the European-based testing agency, TUV.
By comparison to the design of a bungee-jumping system, Kerkhofs says the Dinner In The Sky concept was relatively simple. “It’s not like a bungee jump,” he says. “It stays stable. You don’t have the big ‘G’ forces.”
The company is in the process of designing a permanent Dinner In The Sky restaurant tower, which would hold four tables and 88 diners. It is said to be in the midst of negotiations with an unnamed Orlando, FL theme park to build the tower there.
“We’re doing the calculations and the drawings right now,” Kerkhofs says. “In five to six weeks, we’ll finish the drawings and determine what the price will be.”