21 Club

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21 Club
21Club.JPG
Restaurant information
Established 1922
Current owner(s) Belmond Ltd. (Since 1995)
Marshall S. Cogan and Stephen Swid (1985–1995)
Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns and families (1922–1985)
Head chef Sylvain Delpique
Dress code Jacket required, jeans not permitted
Street address 21 West 52nd Street
City New York City
State New York
Postal code/ZIP 10019
Country United States
Reservations Recommended
Website www.21club.com

The 21 Club, often simply 21, is an American traditional cuisine restaurant and former prohibition-era speakeasy, located at 21 West 52nd Street in New York City.[1]

Environment[edit]

The Bar Room includes a restaurant, a lounge and, as the name implies, a bar. The walls and ceiling of the Bar Room are covered with antique toys and sports memorabilia donated by famous patrons.[2] Perhaps the most famous feature of 21 is the line of painted cast iron lawn jockey statues which adorns the balcony above the entrance. In the 1930s, some of the affluent customers of the bar began to show their appreciation by presenting 21 with jockeys painted to represent the racing colors of the stables they owned. There are a total of 33 jockeys on the exterior of the building, and 2 more inside the doors.[2][3]

History[edit]

The first version of the club opened in Greenwich Village in 1922, run by cousins Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns. It was originally a small speakeasy known as the Red Head. In 1925 the location was moved to a basement on Washington Place and its name was changed to Frontón. The following year it moved uptown to 42 West 49th Street, changed its name to the Puncheon Club, and became much more exclusive.[4] In 1929, to make way for the construction of Rockefeller Center, the club moved to its current location and changed its name to "Jack and Charlie's 21".

Although raided by police numerous times during Prohibition, the two were never caught. As soon as a raid began, a system of levers was used to tip the shelves of the bar, sweeping the liquor bottles through a chute and into the city's sewers.[5] The bar also included a secret wine cellar, which was accessed through a hidden door in a brick wall which opened into the basement of the building next door (number 19). Though still used as a wine cellar today, part of the vault has been remodeled to allow a party of up to 20 guests to dine in private. 21 also stored the private wine collections of such celebrities as Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford; Joan Crawford; Elizabeth Taylor; Hugh Carey; Ernest Hemingway; Ivan Boesky; The Nordstrom Sisters; Frank Sinatra; Al Jolson; Gloria Vanderbilt; Sophia Loren; Mae West; Zsa Zsa Gabor; Aristotle Onassis; Gene Kelly; Gloria Swanson; Judy Garland; Sammy Davis, Jr.; and Marilyn Monroe.

At Christmas time the regulars received silk scarves decorated with a motif of various unique club insignia. Each scarf is numbered and has the Jockey logo and also features the famous railings associated with the building. Some of the most unusual and desirable were designed by Ray Strauss, founder of Symphony Scarves, in the 50s and 60s. A number of these can be seen in a 1989 book by Andrew Baseman, The Scarf. Siggie Nordstrom had a collection of several dozen of these she'd received through the years. 21 Club scarves have a large following among scarf collectors.

Every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt except for George W. Bush has dined at 21 (although Bush's wife and daughters have), and the restaurant has been frequented by so many celebrities that many of them have favorite tables.[6]

In 1985, the Kriendler and Berns families sold their interests in the restaurant to General Felt Industries, a holding company headed by Marshall S. Cogan and Stephen Swid.[7][8] Ten years later, Cogan and Swid sold the restaurant to Orient-Express Hotels.[9]

On January 24, 2009, it finally ended its long-standing policy of requiring men to wear ties at dinner. However, all other regulations (including wearing a jacket) still stand.

Reviews[edit]

In 2014, Zagat gave it a food rating of 23 out of 30.[10]

Expansion plans[edit]

In 1995 it became part of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. which in 2014 changed its name to Belmond Ltd. In November 2007, the company announced acquisition and plans to raze the Donnell Library branch directly north of the 21 Club on 53rd Street (Manhattan) and build a $220 million 11-story, 150-room hotel that would be connected to the 21 Club and would be the flagship for a new "21" brand of hotels. These plans were put on hold and shelved in March 2009; Orient-Express saying it "wanted to revisit the $59 million agreement because of the global financial crisis and a shortage of credit for construction and real estate development." [11] The library was sold to Starwood Capital Group in 2011 which razed the library and began construction of a 46-story complex to be the flagship of the new Baccarat Hotels and Resorts chain.[12] In March 2014 Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. introduced a new brand name, Belmond.

In popular culture[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Marilyn Kaytor - "21": The Life and Times of New York's Favorite Club (Viking Press, 1975).

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Kaya Morgan. "The 21 Club – Manhattan's Most Prestigious Landmark". Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006. 
  3. ^ "About the Jockeys". Retrieved August 23, 2006. 
  4. ^ Kevin C. Fitzpatrick. "Social Scene at "21"". Archived from the original on 14 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006. 
  5. ^ "21 Club History". Archived from the original on 7 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006. 
  6. ^ Hotels Ltd. "Seen at 21". 
  7. ^ "H. Peter Kriendler, 96, Operator of '21' Club". The New York Times, December 22, 2001
  8. ^ "Adding up the New '21'". New York magazine, June 1, 1987.
  9. ^ "NYC's '21' Club sold to Orient-Express". Nation's Restaurant News, September 25, 1995
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ Bigger Woes for Library, as a Buyer Backs Out – New York Times – March 3, 2009
  12. ^ "Starwood's Crystal Vision". Wall Street Journal. April 24, 2012. 
  13. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 14, 1994). "Quiz Show: Good and Evil in a More Innocent Age". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′37.8″N 73°58′38.6″W / 40.760500°N 73.977389°W / 40.760500; -73.977389