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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Bar Transforms to Member-Only Club

 The Other Door, a North Hollywood bar with a loyal following, plans to relaunch as a membership club for vaccinated patrons only.

After closing their doors in March of 2020 due to the pandemic, managing owners Ari Schindler and Jonathan Katz began looking for ways to save their bar. They tried selling milk and eggs and later launched a subscription box service of exotic beers and snacks.Now they are pivoting to a new project, the Risky Business Club, as restrictions on bars begin to lift.

The club was announced March 25 via the bar’s online newsletter, called the Desperate Times. The announcement featured an invitation to purchase a membership early at 50 percent off the full price of $20. Each membership includes a personalized metal card and access to the private club two weeks after each patron’s final vaccine shot, to ensure sufficient antibodies to protect both patrons and staff.“Vaccinated members can socialize face-to-face, share beer and shots and kombucha and tea, play pool, chill on the cozy patio, and enjoy real human contact as nature intended,” the website states. “Nobody will be allowed on premises or issued a membership without proof of vaccination.”The club has been surprisingly popular, given that it has yet to open its doors, Schindler said. It will be up and running within a few weeks serving primarily medical staffers, first responders, food service and essential workers who got vaccinated early.

“We had no expectations, and certainly no expectations of success, so it has been astounding to see the memberships rolling in,” Schindler said in an email to the Business Journal.

Anyone can apply and almost anyone can be a member, he said, though he and Katz reserve the right to refuse or revoke membership if they “decide someone is a jerk.”Renee Miller, president of restaurant consultancy Miller Group Marketing in Pacific Palisades, said membership clubs are nothing new but this version adds a twist of innovation.“The idea is rather clever, depending on how you position it, how you market it,” she said. “It affords members the opportunity to know that everyone has been vaccinated. … And there’s some exclusivity to it, so it could be an interesting trend.”Miller said the vaccine-required twist and affordable fee is a way to market the bar during uncertain times.

“We haven’t given much thought to how long it will be a private club. It could certainly be a permanent thing, if the business is doing well in that format,” Schindler said. “The vaccination requirement will remain in place for as long as it makes sense, which we expect to be around six months.”

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert is a Los Angeles-based reporter covering retail, hospitality and philanthropy for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. In addition to her current beat, she is particularly interested in criminal justice topics, health and science stories and investigative journalism. She received her AA in Humanities from Moorpark College in 2016, her BA in Communication from Cal Lutheran University in 2019 and followed it up with a MA in Specialized Journalism from USC in the summer of 2020. Through her work, Katherine aspires to help strengthen the fragile trust between members of the media and the public.

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