There are restaurants and then there is the 21 Club. This iconic Midtown Manhattan restaurant has been a club of sorts for everyone from movie stars and business tycoons to American presidents. There are 10 private dining rooms within the 21 Club, but the restaurant is most famous for its Bar Room, notable for the toys suspended from the ceiling reflecting the various companies run by regular patrons. The room has graced the silver screen many times, but it’s the legendary wine cellar, once a speakeasy during Prohibition, that remains the most buzzed-about space.
Presiding over all of this is Julie Sawitz, 21 Club’s director of private dining. Despite it being a “six days a week kind of job,” Sawitz clearly loves what she does. It’s a good thing too, since she handles around 2,000 events a year. “I’ve done everything from product launches and movie openings to board dinners, financial company roadshows … you name it.”
Sawitz has been with the 21 Club for 25 years and she’s planned events for just about anyone who is anyone. While there are very few celebrities she hasn’t met or planned an event for, Sawitz is particularly adept at making everyone feel like an A-lister regardless of their social standing or bank account. “My job is to make memories for people.” Indeed, Sawitz’s personal touch is not only palpable, but keeps a steady stream of clients coming back for more. Some have become friends over the years. “I’ve actually attended weddings of the children of clients,” she says.
In an often transient industry, Sawitz’s 25 years of service is indeed impressive, but it’s clear she could never leave. Whether it’s planning a top-notch event or showing off the wine cellar (accessed through an unassuming but heavy brick door secured with a meat skewer) she never tires of the pace—or the place. “Sure, I’ve seen the wine cellar a million times, but that reaction people get when they first push open the door and get a peek inside … it just never gets old.”