After three months, Manhattan’s 21 Club on West 52nd Street has finally welcomed back its lawn jockeys, the festive group of fellows whose job is to guard the restaurant’s elite doors.
The first of the jockeys, was donated by J. Blan van Urk, a “high-spirited sportsman” who enjoyed foxhunting and other woodsy pursuits. Urk’s jockey, which takes up the first, and most illustrious, step at the restaurant, eventually inspired other regular customers to contribute their own jockeys.
In July, the jockeys disappeared for the first time in the restaurant’s 85-year history, prompting up to 50 calls a day from concerned patrons. “People were asking me, ‘Are you selling the place?’ They’re part of the DNA of the restaurant,” general manager Teddy Suric told the New York Times.
In fact, the jockeys had only gone as far as New Jersey, to an artist’s studio for some rest and relaxation, and a paint job. This week, the metal men returned to their rightful spot in front of the restaurant, this time with some extra lighting to showcase each jockey.
According to Suric, the jockeys’ makeovers are part of a larger renovation effort by the restaurant to “remake ‘21’ for the 21st century.”