The iconic restaurant has reportedly told its nearly 150 employees that it’s going out of business and that they’ll be let go in March.
Opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition, the 21 Club has served past presidents, including President Donald Trump, who celebrated his 2016 victory with a dinner there. Its celebrity guests Ernest Hemingway (who supposedly had his way with a restaurant guest on the steps), tennis greats John McEnroe and Chris Evert, and stars like Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Several had bronze plaques above “their” tables.
Many movies and TV shows have filmed at the 21 Club, including The Sweet Smell of Success, Wall Street, and Sex and the City. The restaurant also hosted the Mad Men premiere party.
Like any long-term establishment, the 21 Club’s popularity waxed and waned. But its 35 jockeys at the entrance to the restaurant at 52nd Street remained a fixture of midtown, even as the building was closed for most of the pandemic.
The restaurant was celebrating its 90th birthday this year.