Modern private clubs with four-figure memberships on the rise in Atlanta

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Modern private clubs with four-figure memberships on the rise in Atlanta

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Modern private clubs are a rising trend in Atlanta’s retail scene.

When Mandy Slater of Slater Hospitality opened L.O.A. Social Club in West Midtown a couple of years ago with her husband, Kevin Slater, the plan was always to turn it into what is now: a member’s-only space where you can work, host events or bring friends to lounge in a cabana in peace.

“L.O.A. stands for ‘leave of absence,’ and that’s the mentality we want our members to embrace here,” said Slater, sitting poolside, frozen drink in hand.

The owner, who grew up in Central Florida, took her team on trips to Miami’s hottest spots to scope out the scene and reminisce over her first days in Atlanta, when she would sneak into luxury hotels for an atmosphere and service she couldn’t find elsewhere.

Mandy Slater is the owner of L.O.A. Social Club.

L.O.A. opened to the public in 2022. As of January, it is available solely to members and their guests, who may dine on filet mignon or lobster ravioli in what the club’s marketing brochure describes as “sexy sophistication” at the Riva restaurant. Or they might cowork or take private calls in one of the club’s stylized coves.

“Our team really, being so focused on hospitality, wanted to connect with people, and we did as well,” Slater said. “We wanted to provide experiences that were more personalized and cater to the members that we have instead of what the whole city wanted to do.”

For the privilege, members under 35 pay $1,250 annually. It’s $2,500 for members over 35 and $5,000 for couples. Corporate rates are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Damsel, the cabaret which arrived at The Works on Chattahoochee Avenue earlier this year, is evolving its interior upstairs lounge into a members-only destination.

All members must be invited or recommended by other members, and those who get in early, or “founding members,” pay a one-time initiation fee of $5,000, followed by an annual payment of $3,600. Members who join after the early period pay a regular initiation fee of $10,000.

Damsel is partnering with a titan of the Atlanta music scene, Tricky Stewart. The eighttime Grammy Award winner, who contributed to the “Burlesque” soundtrack and cowrote hits such as “Single Ladies” and “Umbrella,” will be announcing an audition schedule for the Damsel House Band soon.

Dave Green is the owner of Damsel.

Damsel owner Dave Green said the club will also be working with iHeart Radio to fulfill his dream of bringing together established and rising artists in the space.

“It’s going to be a big deal, because not only are we bringing stars that are already existing, but there will also be these rising stars … people that are emerging,” Green said.

The nightlife spot will host drag shows put together by director and choreographer Otis Sallid, as well.

Membership allows for priority reservations for these events, as well as entry for members and up to three guests; exclusive menus; a no-wait entrance to all Damsel venues, including its dance club; and more.

Forth, an upcoming private club from Atlanta developer Jim Irwin’s New City LLC, will be less obviously extravagant, but opulent in its own right.

Membership prices aren’t yet available, but inside a $150 million tower along the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, the destination will be a “third place” that Irwin sees as a “mark of a culturally important city,” he previously told Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Jim Irwin, president of New City LLC, in front of the building that will house Forth.

Steve Palmer, founder of Charleston-based Indigo Road Hospitality, which operates a collection of upscale restaurants in metro Atlanta, previously said Indigo Road has seen a “boom” in private clubs. “People still have a real desire to connect,” despite their connections to their phones.

“They crave relationship,” Palmer said.

Within Cooper Carry, Atlanta’s largest design firm, The Johnson Studio is responsible for designing high-end private clubs across the country, from Los Angeles’ The Edith to The Bloomsbury in Raleigh, North Carolina. The firm’s local work includes public venues including Atlas and The Garden Room at The St. Regis, Kevin Rathbun Steak, and Rumi’s Kitchen Colony Square.

Keith Schutz and Juliana Kerschen, associate principals with The Johnson Studio, said
that since the pandemic, budgets are “definitely bigger.” Clubs are trending toward more opulent décor, and lower seat counts are giving members more elbow space.

While they have yet to design private clubs in Atlanta, Kerschen sees the trend growing.

“I don’t see why [Atlanta] wouldn’t be part of this trend,” she said.


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