|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|
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. 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 33 jockeys on the exterior of the building, and 2 more inside the doors, all painted to portray a uniformly Caucasian skin tone.
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. 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. 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. (George W. Bush did dine at 21 prior to becoming President, and in fact was dining at 21 when he was informed by a waiter that his father had been chosen as Ronald Reagan's running mate.)
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. Ten years later, Cogan and Swid sold the restaurant to Orient-Express Hotels.
In 1995 it became part of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. which in 2014 changed its name to Belmond Ltd.
On January 24, 2009, it ended its long-standing policy of requiring men to wear ties at dinner. However, all other regulations (including wearing a jacket) still stand.
In popular culture
- Spellbound: Ingrid Bergman's psychiatrist interprets murder suspect Gregory Peck's dream about shadowy figures playing the card game 21 as referring to the 21 Club
- Rear Window: Grace Kelly has a waiter from "21" deliver dinner to a convalescing James Stewart at his apartment.
- North by Northwest: Roger Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) mentions "dinner at 21" to his secretary at the beginning of the movie
- Breakfast at Tiffany's: In Capote's novella, the narrator spots Holly Golightly at the restaurant
- Run for Your Life: In the thriller novel, written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, a serial killer known as "The Teacher", murders the restaurant's Maitre'D as part of a killing spree.
- One Fine Day: Michelle Pfeiffer has drinks with clients in the lounge.
- Sex and the City: Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth dine in the Bar Room.
- The Apprentice: Donald Trump sends contestants there for a meal.
- Two for the Money: Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey discuss business on their way inside.
- Wall Street: Michael Douglas educates Charlie Sheen on the finer things in life (steak tartare and expensive suits).
- In Manhattan Murder Mystery, Larry (played by Woody Allen) and Carol (played by Diane Keaton) take their son Nick to 21 Club for his birthday.
- I Love Lucy: In the episode Vacation From Marriage, Lucy and Ethel pretend to have dates at 21 to make their husbands jealous. In the episode Mr. and Mrs. TV Show, Lucy tells Ricky she met TV producer Harvey Cromwell while having lunch at 21 with Carolyn Appleby.
- In 1968's How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, Stella Stevens pickets the 21 Club because Dean Martin has dumped her as his mistress.
- "This Could Be the Start of Something Big", music by Steve Allen has a verse: "You're dining at '21' and watching your diet/Declining a Charlotte Russe, accepting a fig".
- In Sweet Smell of Success, Burt Lancaster meets Tony Curtis two times there.
- In W.E.B. Griffin's series "The Corps", then-Lieutenant Ken McCoy and Ernestine Sage dine there often.
- Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths (on the Ninetieth Floor)": "While the crowds at El Morocco punish the parquet and at 21 the couples clamor for more..."
- Family Affair: Uncle Bill (Brian Keith) plans to take Cissy (Kathy Garver) to the 21 Club for her birthday.
- In The Bronx Is Burning, George Steinbrenner took Reggie Jackson to the 21 Club when he first arrived in New York
- In Cradle Will Rock: The Orson Welles character gets in a taxi and asks to be taken to the 21 Club.
- All About Eve: Celeste Holm goes to 21 to have lunch with Bette Davis.
- In Quiz Show: the assistant complains that the producer would like a contestant on 21 "who looks like he could get a table at 21".
- In Valley of the Dolls: the main characters meet here many times with various celebs and reporters.
- In In a Lonely Place: a girl describing a book to Humphrey Bogart mentions it in the plot.
- In Sabrina (1954): Humphrey Bogart mentions he was planning on having dinner at 21.
- In Written on the Wind (1954): Robert Stack, Lauren Bacall and Rock Hudson share champagne in the bar near the beginning of the film.
- In The Last Angry Man Woodrow Thrasher's (David Wayne) secretary mentions his meeting at 21 while going over his itinerary.
- In chapter 9 of Ian Fleming's novel Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond dines with Tiffany Case at 21 while pumping her for information about her employer, the Spangled Mob.
- In Live and Let Die: James Bond (Roger Moore) boards the train with Ms. Solitaire, and tells U.S. CIA agent Felix that he will meet him at 21 club.
- In Beach Blanket Bingo (1965): Bullets (Paul Lynde) tells Earl Wilson (Earl Wilson) that the club they are entering is not "a fancy New York night club, the kind you are used to, like the 21 Club" (at 43 minutes into film).
- In Oscar, Anthony (played by Vincent Spano) mentions having known Mr. Provolone's daughter at a "23 Club".
- In The Nanny: Charles Shaughnessy suggests going to 21 Club after Daniel Davis, the butler, falls ill.
- Once appeared in the Late Show with David Letterman opening theme.
- In The Man Who Came to Dinner: Bette Davis mentions 21 while talking around a campfire.
- In How to Marry a Millionaire: Lauren Bacall mentions 21 after selling the piano.
- In Week-End at the Waldorf, after getting out of a car, Ginger Rogers is urged to attend a gathering at 21.
- In an episode of Jeeves and Wooster Jeeves (Stephen Fry) briefly describes spending the night at the 21 club.
- In Cass Timberlane: Zachary Scott mentions 21 to Lana Turner over the phone.
- In Lady Be Good (1941):Marilyn (Eleanor Powell) and Buddy (John Carroll) leave to have lunch at 21 to let Dixie (Ann Sothern) and Eddie (Robert Young) talk alone.
- In "Archer, Season 2 Heart of Archness I, Mallory says she will reserve their usual booth at 21
- In "Archer, Season 3 Episode 4, Archer misses his birthday dinner at 21
- In his memoir "Making The Mummies Dance" then-director of the Metropolitan Museum, Thomas Hoving, mentions having dinner at 21 with trustee and banker Robert Lehman.
- In the series finale of Breaking Bad, Gretchen Schwartz mentions that she wants to have dinner at the 21 Club to her husband, Elliott.
- In Whit Stillman's Metropolitan, the character Tom Townsend asks his mother, "Is the 21 Club very expensive?" Townsend and another character are then shown leaving the club (it is unclear whether they dined there).
- Coincidentally, the International Debutante Ball, which also appears in Whit Stillman's film Metropolitan, has hosted its pre-ball parties at 21 Club.
- Kaya Morgan. "The 21 Club – Manhattan's Most Prestigious Landmark". Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- "About the Jockeys". Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- Kevin C. Fitzpatrick. "Social Scene at "21"". Archived from the original on 14 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- "21 Club History". Archived from the original on 7 August 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- Hotels Ltd. "Seen at 21".
- "H. Peter Kriendler, 96, Operator of '21' Club". The New York Times, December 22, 2001
- "Adding up the New '21'". New York magazine, June 1, 1987.
- "NYC's '21' Club sold to Orient-Express". Nation's Restaurant News, September 25, 1995
- Maslin, Janet (September 14, 1994). "Quiz Show: Good and Evil in a More Innocent Age". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2008.