Iconic NYC Eatery Closed Indefinitely, 10,000 Others Folded for Good in Last Three Months
The coronavirus will definitely be remembered for killing thousands of restaurants across the country under restrictive lockdown orders, and now a restaurant in New York City that has been in operation for almost a century is closing indefinitely.
The iconic 21 Club owners ceased operations in March, but a spokesman said owners hope to reopen when the pandemic is over.
“The company is exploring potential opportunities that will allow 21 Club to remain a viable operation in the long term, while retaining its distinctive character,” the spokeswoman said.
NYC losing another iconic restaurant: The 21 Club has told its 148 employees it has ceased operations indefinitely and they will be terminated March 9 of next year. pic.twitter.com/JV63hIvZpL
— David Faber (@davidfaber) December 11, 2020
Belmond tells me 21 is not closing “for good”and while “It will not be feasible to reopen 21 in its current form for the foreseeable future”, it is “exploring potential opportunities that will allow it to remain a viable operation in the long term.” No time frame given.
— David Faber (@davidfaber) December 12, 2020
Fox News also reported on the development:
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.
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 decor inside the restaurant includes artwork from Frederick Remington, New Yorker cartoons, mementos from presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and a baseball bat that belonged to legendary baseball player Willie Mays.
Famous diners include Nobel-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway, tennis star John McEnroe, and every sitting U.S. president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, except George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
President Donald Trump has been a customer for years, according to Fox News.
The restaurant celebrated its 90th anniversary in the midst of the pandemic in August.
”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,” Fox reported. “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, adding that he vehemently opposes the shut down,
“Closure rates will be astronomical,” Vendome said. “It breaks my heart to see what’s happening to the city I love.”
But the restaurant closures in New York City mirrors the decimation of eateries across the country.
CNN reported on just how hard the restaurant industry has been hit — mostly in Democrat-controlled cities — as many faced bans on indoor dining and then outdoor dining:
About 17 percent of America’s restaurants have already permanently closed this year, with the industry in further danger according to a new report.
The National Restaurant Association is publicly pleading with Congress to pass new stimulus to help the industry that has been damaged by the pandemic. The group said Monday 110,000 restaurants have already permanently shuttered in 2020, with 10,000 of them closed in the past three months.
“In short, the restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for the group, said in a press release.
The Restaurants Act of 2020 was passed by the Democrat-controlled House in October as part of a $2.2 trillion stimulus relief package, but it has not been taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate, and Pelosi has not embraced the alternate plan put forth by the Senate or the president.