Izzy somehow missed it, but a few weeks ago The New York Times reported that the economic downturn has led to a true casual-ty: 21, the famed Manhattan restaurant, is no longer requiring that male diners wear ties, as it had for the prior 79 years:
The power-dining oasis, where Manhattanâ€™s surviving masters of the universe daily attempt critical mass, announced last Thursday that the restaurant, virtually the last in town with a neckwear rule, had abandoned its tie requirement at dinner in its two dining rooms, the Bar Room and Upstairs at 21.
Ties are â€œpreferred,â€ it said â€” indeed, â€œgreatly appreciated.â€ And mind you, gentlemen, your jackets must stay on.
Actually, â€œ21â€ instituted the policy â€œafter Labor Day, a soft opening if you will,â€ said Bryan McGuire, the manager for the last, yes, 21 years. â€œWe wanted to be on a more level playing field with our competitors,â€ he said, adding, â€œWe didnâ€™t think it was that big a deal.â€ Especially since, during lunch, the tie policy was ixnayed in 1996, he said.
The restaurantâ€™s publicist, Diana Biederman, said she issued the release so people could â€œknow about the policy in these challenging times.â€
Mr. McGuire, though, insisted that the decision was not recession-driven.
But he allowed that the policy â€œcould help the restaurant greatly in a time of difficulty.â€ Revenue, $18.5 million last year, is off by â€œdouble digits,â€ he said.
The restaurant has made other concessions to the economy, including free parking for all dinner patrons.
(For the record, he noted, ties are required in the 20-seat private dining room, the Wine Cellar.)
The Zagat 2009 New York City Restaurant guide has starred the Rainbow Room (which offers dinner on â€œselectedâ€ Friday and Saturday nights even as its landlord seeks to terminate its lease for nonpayment of rent) as the only other public restaurant requiring a tie among 13 that demand jackets.
â€œIt is the final victory of Los Angeles,â€ Tim Zagat said.
As Woody Allen said of that city in Annie Hall, “I don’t want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is that you can make a right turn on a red light.”
The ultra-formal should know that there are still a few New York holdouts when it comes to the ties-required rule.Â You’ll just need to know someone who can get you into the likes of the Harvard Club.