Private members’ clubs are odd things. It’s easy to think of them as something of a leftover from a faded age of stuffy old boys smoking pipes, plotting colonial swindles and making backroom deals over gin and crustless sandwiches — the sort of place where Baroness Blixen wasn’t allowed unless she fended off a lion, grew her own coffee, buried Robert Redford and endured her cheating husband’s syphilis.
As such, they’ve probably never really interested you. Nor have their more modern iterations, whether they be geared towards high-end fitness, co-working or corporate networking. That isn’t a too-cool-for-school Groucho Marx dismissal (“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member”), but rather an honest admission that it’s not at all your scene.
But what if the club was geared towards your interests and its couches, cozy chairs and bar stools were filled with your friends and peers? What if the purpose of the club was to be a quiet reserve for people who work in the restaurant industry? And what if it was a hybrid of the Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland and the Chief Clubhouse in New York City, which is pictured above and below.
Obviously, the appeal of the whiskey library is the 1,500+ bottles of delicious and its public-private nature (members can make reservations, public are walk-ins only), but what I like most about Chief is how calm and relaxed it looks. I also appreciate the narrowness of its membership. It was started by female executives who wanted a pleasantly appointed third space (not home or work) to enjoy at their leisure, and membership is restricted to women of similar inclination.
If you abandoned the gender exclusion and set the annual fees on a graduating scale of accessibility (so a dishwasher didn’t have to pay as much as a server, say), it might be prove to be place of solace and belonging, ideal for an espresso pre-shift, a stiff drink post-shift, and maybe a late night card game or three (with…crustless sandwiches).
If we could put it anywhere, my vote would be for the top floor of the Horne Block on the edge of Gastown.