21 Becomes Tie-Free Zone

The sharp-eyed, discerning tongues over at Eater have some bad news for the Gotham’s old-line traditonalists. The 21 Club has relaxed its dress code. Hidden within a press release announcing a prix-fixe deal, the owners let slip they have dropped their long-held dress code of tie and jacket. “We have (somewhat) relaxed our dress code in the lounge and bar areas, as well as the dining rooms,” reads a press release. “Ties are still preferred and greatly appreciated, but they are no longer a must.”

A quick peek at Zagats reveals that ’21’ was the last eatery in the city to drop the mandatory tie dress code. Nearly 80 years old, ’21’ has been a glamorous, old-school style-driven draw, and since Franklin D. Roosevelt, ’21’ has been a Presidential fave. John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra were regulars. Humphrey Bogart proposed to Lauren Bacall there, and it was a thriving hotspot for business lunches since opening day. “More deals are done at ’21’ than on the stock market floor,” noted Forbes.

Owners say they have relaxed the dress to encourage more business during the recession. A company rep also added that it reflects changing times. “Why should we say no to somebody who wants to have dinner with us [for lack of a tie]? Times change. We have to move forward.” Yet, while diners and drinkers no longer require a tie and jacket, t-shirt and jeans-wearing B&T sets will still be turned away at 21. Notes one hyperbolic commenter: “The more dress codes are relaxed, the closer we slip into barbarism.”