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Midtown Legend 21 Club Shutters After 90-Year Run

The iconic restaurant is looking to come back in some form, but no plans have been finalized yet

The 21 Club in Midtown Manhattan, a former prohibition-era speakeasy, features a colorful collection of small painted cast iron lawn jockey statues which adorn the balcony above the entrance.
21 Club in Midtown
Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

90-year-old Midtown restaurant 21 Club, an iconic fixture in NYC, is permanently shutting down.

The restaurant, located at 52nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, has been temporarily closed since the city first banned dine-in services at restaurants and bars in March. Now, as the city weathers a second wave of the virus that has prompted more restaurant restrictions, 21 Club’s ownership has decided not to push forward with reopening the establishment, AMNY reports.

“In light of the ongoing global crisis and anticipated extended recovery period for the hospitality industry, the difficult decision was made that it will not be feasible to reopen the 21 Club in its current form for the foreseeable future,” a 21 Club spokesperson said in a statement to AMNY.

The restaurant will lay off 148 employees on March 9, 2021, due to the permanent closure, according to a layoff notice filed with the New York Department of Labor.

However, the restaurant spokesperson noted that 21 Club is looking into “potential opportunities” that would allow the establishment to return in some form. “At this early stage, we are not ready to announce any final concept or timeframe, but the vision is that 21 Club will always remain an important social and cultural hub and icon of New York,” the spokesperson said.

The restaurant, founded in 1930, famously operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. Over the years, the historic space — marked by an eye-catching display of jockeys lined up at the establishment’s front gate — has been known for attracting tons of high-profile diners. It has hosted every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, aside from George W. Bush, and its secret wine cellar was home to the private collections of celebrities and presidents including Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Richard Nixon, according to AMNY.

The economic strain from the pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry in NYC, forcing many longstanding icons like La Caridad 78 on the Upper West Side and famed Italian spot Colandrea New Corner in Dyker Heights to permanently close their doors.

21 Club

21 West 52nd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 582-7200 Visit Website