NEW YORK — The revered ’21’ Club is in the process of converting its current lounge area into a 10-seat bar with what management says will be a “casual vibe.”
The project is expected to go into high gear in August when ’21’ is closed for its annual summer vacation. The mid-September opening of Bar ’21’ will have more than a new look. For the first time ever, the restaurant will serve tap beer, and patrons will be seated on bar stools instead of the usual upholstered chairs.
The history of ’21’ Club is a true New York one. According to the establishment, construction of the townhouse at 21 West 52nd Street got under way in 1871. On December 31, 1929, speakeasy-operating cousins Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns unhinge the wrought iron gate that had been the portal to No. 42 and installed it three blocks north at 21 West 52nd Street. They open Jack and Charlie’s ’21’ Club in the wee hours of New Year’s Eve.
On December 5, 1933, Prohibition is repealed. In 1934, Charlie creates ’21’ Brands, a liquor importing/distilling/distributing company. Its first salesman is then-aspiring English actor David Niven. Over the ensuing years, the restaurant/nightclub becomes a New York classic, drawing the cream of show business.
In 1985, ’21’ is sold for the first time, to financier Marshall Cogan. Ten years later it is sold to Orient-Express Hotels. In 1997, its famous Wine Cellar is remodeled, becoming a major private dining rooms in the city. In 2002, the new Upstairs at ’21’ restaurant opens on the first floor.
’21’ Club still is located at 21 West 52nd Street in Manhattan. Restaurant reservations: (212) 582-7200.
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