New York City’s famous 21 Club restaurant, once a speakeasy where Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Bill Holden, and John Steinbeck each had their own favorite tables, is closing its doors indefinitely after 90 yrs because of the coronavirus chaos.
21 has been shuttered since March to protect its guests and employees and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Its employees have been told they will be out of work as of early this coming March.
The news comes just as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that indoor dining will be prohibited in New York City beginning Monday because of the growing numbers of people contracting the disease.
The Big Q: How is it safer to eat on an airplane than in a restaurant, ride a subway, bus or train?
“The company is exploring potential opportunities that will allow 21 Club to remain a viable operation in the long term while retaining its distinctive character,” a spokesperson told the newspaper. “At this early stage, we are not ready to announce any final concept or timeframe, but the vision is that 21 Club will always remain an important social and cultural hub and icon of New York, one that is well-positioned to fulfill its role in the City’s exciting future when the time comes.”
According to a recent study, more than 60% of New York City’s restaurants are expected to close their doors by year’s end.
The 21 Club has been a dining spot for almost every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt after opening on 1 January 1930.
President Trump reportedly celebrated his Y 2016 election victory there with his 4 adult children and their spouses or partners.
The restaurant’s Facebook page says the eatery officially opened on New Year’s Day in 1931 and quickly became one of the country’s most famous speakeasies from the Prohibition Era. It has 10 private dining rooms, including one in its secret wine cellar.
It has been a favorite of mine for 45 yrs, I knew 21’s owner, Jack Kreindler personally and have many fond memories of dining there and my very favorite entree is Sweetbreads (ris de veau), a house speciality in the 70’s.
I suspect now that its owner Belmond Ltd. is keenly aware of the efficient ventilation, filtration and inexpensive UV light technology available to make 21 safer than an airplane to dine and drink in.
” I too was and still am a constant visitor to the 21 (52nd and Lexington), one of the more darling of the New York City restaurants – a Holiday Magazine Award recipient and businessman’s delight with its 5-star menu and very unique atmosphere with its 35 jockey statues and 6-hour parking. This will be a great lost to New Yorkers for it was a place to dine.
“I often recall my many luncheons and dinners there when I was living and now visiting The Big Apple. This was dating back to my days at The Curtis Publishing Company which was located just several blocks away at 54th and Lexington, just several blocks away from the then Summit Hotel (now the Metropolitan Hotel). Curtis was then the magazine publisher of The Saturday Evening Post, American Home, Holiday, The Ladies Home Journal plus Jack & Jill. It was also then the largest Magazine Distribution Company in the World under the direction of the legendary G.B. McCombs.
“What puzzles me most is that the transportation industry (airlines plus metropolitan bus companies and the railroad) are allowed to have close proximity passengers but with questionable outdated air circulation systems are allowed to continue operating. Yet the restaurant industry is quickly closing down even though a number of them have installed highly sophisticated air control, lighting and ventilation systems in response to the contagious covid – 19 pandemic.
“Politicians forget the size of the U.S. restaurant industry – employing some 15.3 million people in 2019— about 1 in 10 working Americans. Yet, they seem also to forget that people must get out of their homes because of boredom and the need for a change in atmosphere but do they, the politicians, really care in order to create an adverse and attention getting effect on the general population,” notes hospitality expert Bruce WD Barren.
21 was a leader in Y 1930 and may well lead NYC back to dining sanity in 2021.
Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!