Monday, January 26, 2009

Barbarians at the gates ...

by Fredo

I had to read the New York Post article twice to actually believe it. In fact, it seemed like an article from The Onion, so I threw down the rag on the floor and hit the web for a double confirmation. I found it at Eater. It was true. The venerable 21 Club, one of New York's most prestigious establishments had adopted a new dress code.

"Ties are still preferred and greatly appreciated, but they are no longer a must."

The 21 Club, which opened as a speakeasy in 1922, was one of the last Manhattan restaurants that required a jacket and tie for gentlemen to eat in the main dining room. For 87 years, celebrities, politicians, the well to do, of course ordinary gentlemen and their ladies, have been making the scene at 21 wearing ties. The formality and the sense of special occasion made it a place where you wanted to get dressed up. Now it is in danger of being lost.

See I'm really pissed off at The 21 Club because they missed the point as to why business is down. The New York Post article insinuates that the reason for the policy change is less covers. However, they fail to realize that the slow down has nothing to do with the formality of a tie. No, it has to do with their price point and the tanking economy! As Bernie Madoff used to say Keep It Simple Stupid: Ridiculously high prices + recession = less business!!

For example, two items from the menu:

The ’21’ Burger, green beans, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, choice of potato

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, mescalin greens, pickled fresh horseradish

Those items are on the low end of the scale! Seriously, even if they get more business from the pre-theater crowd, the a la cart menu will surely keep the crowds away. You don't need an MBA to figure that out!

Instead, 21 let the Visigoth of dress down conformity across the frontier and hope he will just settle down, satiated by his new rep tie. Then the hordes will barge into "Upstairs at 21," ordering Budweiser in a bottles and the West 52nd Street restaurant will sacrifice the blazer hoping they go away. Then the Vandals will be across the threshold of the Bar Room, clad in distressed denim and sneakers. By then it will be too late, for the barbarian of comfort dress will be talking loudly on his cell phone throughout dinner and watching "the game" on the club's new flat screen. His date sitting ignored, his shirt untucked, and the magical place that was The 21 Club relegated to antiquity.


  1. I, of course, agree with you on all points.

    Except, I really love the places that keep extra jackets, in all different sizes, in the coat check so everyone has to wear one.

    The club I belong to in KC has them -- and they're all purple. Got to love that. And if you wear jeans or a collarless shirt, you get harangued to the point where you wish you didn't.