It survived prohibition, the Great Depression, two world wars and countless economic downturns. But New York City’s famous 21 Club couldn’t survive the coronavirus pandemic.
According to reports, the legendary restaurant has told its nearly 150 employees that it will be closing down business and that they will be laid off in March.
The 21 Club opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition and served previous presidents including President Donald Trump, who celebrated his 2016 victory with a dinner. Its celebrity guests Ernest Hemingway (who allegedly dealt with a restaurant guest on the stairs), tennis greats John McEnroe and Chris Evert, and stars like Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Some had bronze plaques over “their” tables.
Many films and TV shows have been shot at 21 Club, including The Sweet Smell of Success, Wall Street, and Sex and the City. The restaurant also hosted the Mad Men Premiere Party.
As with any long-term establishment, the 21 club’s popularity rose and fell. But its 35 jockeys at the entrance to the restaurant on 52nd Street remained an integral part of Midtown, even though the building was closed for most of the pandemic.
The club’s owners haven’t officially commented on the alleged closure, but reports suggest that there are nebulous plans to reopen at some point. The restaurant celebrated its 90th birthday this year.