Prohibition-era 21 Club in New York City to close after 90 years

Cuomo’s new dining restrictions add ‘insult to injury’: Restaurant owner

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

New York City’s iconic 21 Club reportedly told its nearly 150 employees that it’s going out of business and that they'll be let go in March.

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

But that’s coming to an end, according to a tweet from CNBC reporter David Faber Friday afternoon. 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 Wednesday it planned to cease operations "indefinitely," the New York Times reported, but the owners had hoped to eventually reopen.

The five-story restaurant’s eye-catching entrance way on 21 W. 52nd St., is adorned by 35 jockey statues. It has been closed for most of the coronavirus pandemic.

It boasts having served historic figures ranging from past presidents to the Nobel-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway to tennis legend John McEnroe.


After Prohibition agents raided it in 1930, the restaurant’s owners hired an architect to build in camouflaged doors, secret chutes and even “quick-release bar shelves,” according to the restaurant’s website. That was the last time it was caught operating as a speakeasy.

The restaurant's wall art includes pieces from Frederick Remington and McClelland Barclay, and Walt Disney and Peter Arnor, of the New Yorker, have given cartoon dedications. It also has modern collections from Francesca Anderson and Wynne Evans. Its Bar Room has mementos from former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, tennis racquets from McEnroe and Chris Evert, and a baseball bat from Hall of Famer Willie Mays. It's reportedly hosted every sitting president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, aside from George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

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

The restaurant was celebrating its 90th birthday this year — and an August Facebook post said it was looking forward to 90 more.

News of the closure comes on the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he was once again shutting down indoor dining in the city beginning Monday.

Restaurant owners and industry groups, who already are facing sharp declines in business, have blasted the plan.

“Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come,” Michael Vendome, who owns a pair of Italian restaurants in Manhattan and Queens, told Fox Business Friday. “Closure rates will be astronomical. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening to the city I love.”

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