’21,’ We Hardly Knew Ye: Iconic 90-Year-Old NYC Institution Closes Due to COVID

'21' (Image: YouTube screen grab)

To insiders it will always be Jack and Charlie’s, named for the cousins who founded it, Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns. And now, thanks to COVID, it will be a memory. After 90 years of service, the legendary 21 is closing its doors.

The restaurant which started life as a speakeasy in 1922 has been frequented by nearly every president since FDR and was a favored lunch venue for countless writers when they were in New York to ink deals on their latest offering to the literati. Steinbeck and Hemingway dined here.

According to some reports, the closure is temporary. The Daily News reports optimistically that ’21’ will reopen. The paper quotes a spokeswoman as affirming, “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. 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.”

But ambitions like that have a way of going unfulfilled. According to the New York Post, the restaurant’s 148 employees have been told that they’ll be out of a job as of early March. The paper further notes:

News of 21’s closing came just hours after Gov. Cuomo announced that indoor dining will shut down yet again throughout the state on Monday due to increasing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

We live in troubled times indeed.

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