President-elect Donald Trump painted his New York stripes a little thicker by paying a surprise visit to Manhattan’s “21 Club” for a two-hour evening dinner with his wife, soon-to-be First Lady Melania Trump and his grown children.
Trump reportedly entered the steak house, which has been a de-facto celebrity clubhouse for decades, to a round of applause. The billionaire developer is a regular patron and staged the reception for his 1977 wedding to Ivana at 21.
Word is if you want to sit at “Trump’s table,” it is #11 along the wall near the bar, which was also favored by former President Gerald Ford, who, by the way, still has wine bottles with his name on them stored in the decidedly unglamorous basement cellar, as did and do the likes of Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy; Sophia Loren, Mae West, Aristotle Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Even Trump could go broke imbibing in some of the other world class wines also cellared there.
21′s secret basement prohibition door leading to the wine cellar and speakeasy
Some visitors get an opportunity, via a tour, to squeeze through the cellar and beyond a hidden, cave-like door beneath the old-fashioned yet swank midtown bar and restaurant and into a preserved Prohibition-era “speakeasy.”
Trump, famously a non-drinker, swilled no vino though – not even victory champagne. Kate Smith, of Bloomberg, was dining at 21 and Tweeted that Trump ordered a Virgin Bloody Mary to wash down his burger and fries.
21 opened in 1930 and every American President has dined there since.
Bottles hidden below…models suspended above: vintage wines in the cellar and toys suspended from the dining room ceiling – both due to the luminaries who’ve haunted the halls since the days of Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hughes, Hemingway, and, hence, Harrison Ford. Keeping looking up during dinner and you’ll see a model of a PT-109 torpedo boat presented by President John F. Kennedy; a Willie Mays baseball bat; a golf club donated by Jack Nicklaus; and the replica of Air Force One President Bill Clinton added to the suspended toy collection.
One-of-a-kind donated toys dangle from 21′s dining room ceiling
The pool cue Jackie Gleason used in the film “The Hustler” is steps from the table at which Michael Douglas, playing Gordon Gekko in the film “Wall Street,” advised Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox to order the steak tartare – a sensible suggestion, still.
While “Wall Street” might be the best known film to be shot at 21, there have been plenty of other movies and television shows, including the silver screen’s “All About Eve” with Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe in 1950; and TV’s “Sex and the City” and, of course, Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.”
As far as Trump’s acting chops, he appeared in the Whoppi Goldberg and Diane Weist film “The Associate,” a Wall Street-related comedy which used 21 as one of its settings; and as a VIP in “54,” a depiction of “Studio 54,” the Big Apple’s most notorious night club (set in the 70’s but released in 1998. Trump also turned up in 1992’s “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”
In addition to the 33 painted jockey statues lining awning above the front entrance of 21, donated artwork and bronzes decorate the time-honored establishment, which has plenty of private meeting rooms and dining rooms upstairs.
Known as the “21 Club” or simply “21,” the seemingly private enclave is open to the public. It’s at 21 W. 52nd St, and online at www.21Club.com