In 1929, a restaurant called “21 Club” was opened in the heart of Manhattan. This restaurant was opened during Prohibition. The owners, Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns, were willing to do whatever it took to make it possible to serve alcohol to their customers.
They hired an architect to assist them in their efforts to make a massive hidden storage area, that they could then stockpile high-end wine and liquor. The result was a highly sophisticated network of revolving and camouflaged doors, and invisible chutes, that assisted in their efforts to hide or destroy evidence.
Today, one of the most interesting parts of the remaining history is a hidden cellar that is home to over 2,000 cases of wine. This stockpile includes private collections of high-society individuals like Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. While the cellar was only accessible to the owners of 21 Club, it was conveniently located beneath their neighbor’s restaurant, further eliminating cause for suspicion.
The cellar could only be accessed by inserting an eighteen inch skewer into a specific crack of a brick wall. After the lock is deactivated, the wall can be pushed back to reveal the cellar. It’s interesting to note that, despite numerous and frequent raids, the restaurant was never caught with their stash. Chalk up another victory for covert rooms.
Now that Prohibition is over, the wine club is available for dinner parties. It will seat up to 22 guests and comes with a tour of the cellar. For many of us in modern generations, it’s hard to imagine places like the secret 21 Club Wine Cellar being necessary, and it’s even more amazing they were never caught! If you’re interested in secret rooms and history the 21 Club Secret Wine Cellar will give you a little of both.
If you want to take a look inside the cellar and see the door that concealed it, I found a short video that gives you a tour and a little history. Enjoy!