21 Prohibition-era membership in New York Metropolis closes after 90 years

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants Founder Cameron Mitchell on the need for financial support for workers in the restaurant industry.

The legendary 21 Club in New York City reportedly notified its nearly 150 employees that it was closing down and they would be laid off in March.

The former speakeasy first opened during the prohibition era and has been a mainstay of the Big Apple’s social scene ever since.

However, according to a tweet by CNBC reporter David Faber on Friday afternoon, this is coming to an end. A spokeswoman for the restaurant’s parent company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The famous restaurant told New York labor officials on Wednesday that it was planning to shut down “indefinitely,” the New York Times reported, but the owners had hoped to reopen at some point.

The eye-catching entrance to the five-story restaurant at 21 W. 52nd St. is adorned with 35 jockey statues. It has been closed for most of the coronavirus pandemics.

It prides itself on serving historical figures ranging from past presidents to Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway to tennis legend John McEnroe.


After the prohibition agents searched it in 1930, the restaurant owners hired an architect to put in camouflaged doors, secret slides, and even “quick-release bar shelves,” according to the restaurant’s website. This was the last time it was caught being a speakeasy.

The restaurant’s wall art includes pieces by Frederick Remington and McClelland Barclay, and Walt Disney and Peter Arnor of the New Yorker have given comic book dedications. It also has modern collections from Francesca Anderson and Wynne Evans. The bar houses memorabilia from former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, tennis rackets from McEnroe and Chris Evert, and a baseball bat from Hall of Famer Willie Mays. It is said to have hosted every sitting president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, aside from George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

President Trump was reportedly a fan of the restaurant for years.

The restaurant celebrated its 90th birthday this year – and a Facebook post in August said it was looking forward to another 90.

News of the closure comes on the same day that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would be closing indoor dining in the city from Monday.

Restaurant owners and industry groups already facing severe business declines have blown the plan.

“Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come,” Michael Vendome, who owns two Italian restaurants in Manhattan and Queens, told Fox Business Friday. “The closure rates will be astronomical. It breaks my heart to see what happens to the city I love. “

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