From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Head Chef: John Greeley
Street address: 21 West 52nd Street
City: New York City
State: New York
Country: United States
The 21 Club is a restaurant and former prohibition-era speakeasy, located at 21 West 52nd Street in 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 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.
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 the Fronton. The following year it moved uptown to 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 stores the private wine collections of such celebrities as Presidents Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon, 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. 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, and the restaurant has been frequented by so many celebrities that many of them have favorite tables.
In 1975 Marilyn Kaytor wrote ''21'' The Life and Times of New York's Favorite Club. The 175 page illustrated book was published by the Viking Press to wide acclaim; it remains the definitive book about the 21 Club.
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.
It is owned by Orient Express Hotels 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.''
In popular culture
In ''Breakfast at Tiffany's'': In Capote's novella, the narrator spots Holly Golightly at the restaurant.
In ''One Fine Day'': Michelle Pfeiffer has drinks with clients in the lounge.
In ''Sex and the City'': Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth dine in the Bar Room.
On ''The Apprentice'': Donald Trump sends contestants there for a meal.
In ''Two for the Money'': Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey discuss business on their way inside.
In ''Rear Window'': Grace Kelly has a waiter from ''21'' deliver dinner to a convalescing James Stewart at his apartment.
On ''Wall Street'': Michael Douglas educates Charlie Sheen on the finer things in life (steak tartare and expensive suits).
In ''Manhattan Murder Mystery'', Carol (played by Diane Keaton) makes a startling discovery while sitting by the bay window of the 21 Club.
On ''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...''.
On ''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.
In ''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 ''The Last Angry Man'' Woodrow Thrasher's (David Wayne) secretary mentions his meeting at 21 while going over his itinerary.
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 ''The Nanny'': Charles Shaughnessy suggests going to 21 Club after Daniel Davis, the butler, falls ill.
In The Man Who Came to Dinner: Bette Davis mentions 21 while talking around a campfire.