When you walk into the Gathering Spot, even at 10 a.m. on a Thursday, you get the feeling it's a place where really cool people hang out. If they're not really cool, they are at least a part of Atlanta seldom seen at what may be considered your regular breakfast haunts. Upon meeting the company's CEO and co-founder Ryan Wilson, you get the feeling that's the point. "We're taking the stuffiness out of the equation," said Wilson.
The Gathering Spot is described on its website as "an innovative, private, members-only city club that brings together a motivated and diverse community of professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs." Wilson calls it "a chance to meet like-minded individuals from all walks of life in a professional environment."
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for members, the club offers breakfast, lunch and dinner from an in-house full-service restaurant. Among the many interesting offerings on the lunch menu were the turkey panini and kale cusabi slaw salad. The dinner menu featured magret duck breast and whiskey shrimp. Have no fear: Friday and Saturday night reservations are not just possible, but pretty much a win every time.
"As a member you don't have to worry," said Wilson, "you're guaranteed to always have a table here." The Gathering Spot has the exclusivity of a upper crust country club with the technology and availability of your local Apple store.
Wilson and CFO T.K. Peterson, roommates while undergrads at Georgetown University, felt like Atlanta needed a city club to play the middleman between all of the city's Starbucks locations, social media and night spots. "There's a lot of online forms of conversation, we use technology as a tool for face-to-face communication without sacrificing technology," said Wilson. We sat in what is used as a wine tasting room and private quarters on the facility's ground floor.
The Gathering Spot is located steps from Georgia Tech's campus and caters to a tech-savvy community with facility-wide wireless Internet service, private sound-proof rooms called "phone rooms" for business calls and an upstairs work area complete with desk, long tables and a view of the cityscape. If there is work to do but you want to do it out of the office, this is the go-to place.
"We've got everyone from lawyers and bankers to folks that are working in the film industry to people leading non-profits to folks starting businesses," said Wilson. "Our team is laser-focused on trying to make sure as a member of the club you are meeting other members of the club that will enhance your professional or your social life."
I asked Wilson why Atlanta, why now, with social media and technology keeping all of us as close as humanly possible without having to share a table?
"It's about time," said Wilson. "There's a need for a different type of club to exist here in Atlanta where membership and the diversity of the membership and the type of programs you'll see here in the club appeals to the new wave of folks that are living in Atlanta. We want to be a small piece of what's happening here."
An Atlanta native, Wilson took what he saw in D.C. while attending school and afterwards as an on-the-go community worker and applied it back in his hometown. "I know about the coffee shop campers and fighting for a table while wondering if the wi-fi is reliable and, 'Do I have to buy something in order to be here for a while?' As a member of the club you don't have to buy anything," said Wilson. The Gathering Spot offers a modern city club experience with what most of us will need to feel the most comfortable today: food, drink, wireless Internet service and, occasionally, privacy.
"The city club model has been around a long time," said Wilson. "This is about moderrnizing that concept; we think this club is what city clubs will look like in the future in terms of diverse membership and interesting programming that appeals to who you are personally and professionally."
Regarding the price of membership CEO Ryan Wilson said, " We like to keep that disclosed until after the application process is done."
The Gathering Spot is located at 384 Northyards Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30313. Call 404-948-2459, or click here to find out more about the club.
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