People often ask me how I found out about Birch Road Cellar, a social club in Lincoln Park, which is having an Open House this Saturday evening for anyone interested in checking it out and learning about membership. "The wife of a friend of the husband of a friend of mine" is the short answer. But regardless of the convoluted way it came to be, joining the "social club" as my friends who have been there call it has been a unique experience that for once makes me thankful for forwarded e-mails.
Beautiful space: Birch Road is housed in an old photo studio, so imagine big open space perfect for lounging with friends and enjoying a drink. Members have their own oak locker in the cellar portion (worth a peek for sure) to store whatever beverages you'd like. There's also a large bar area that rivals any nice establishment you'd go to in the neighborhood, minus the bartender or waitstaff (it's all serve yourself) and the typical jerky bar people. I'm also a big fan on the dining room, a semi-private area members can reserve for larger parties (i.e. book club, girls' night out, etc.) beyond the 2 guests members can bring at any time. But my words can't adequately describe it- check it out for yourself.
Events for members: It's been great to meet some of the other members of Birch Road, who so far are an eclectic (in a good way) group and very friendly. The owners plan several events a month, from bringing in outside restaurants and bartenders to encouraging members to bring a favorite bottle of wine to share, to encourage everyone to meet. It is a social club after all.
Great "third space": As I've started a PhD, Birch Road has become a great place where I can come and get some work done. I can sit on one of the couches and read, write at a table, or use the wifi for anything else I might need to get done. It's great for others who need a space that's not home, not the office, and not the chaotic coffee shop, either. It's also been great to have somewhere to take a small group of friends for a night of catching up that's bypasses the bar scene and is more entertaining-ready than my house (and decorated a lot cooler too- there's rotating art exhibits).
Relaxed atmosphere: Birch Road is not the Soho House, nor does it try to be. There's no extensive application process with multiple references or screens to make sure you're in the right industry or fit their ideal member profile. As one of the owners put it in their Crain's profile: "“When we were working on our concept development we wanted to represent that good old boys club, but we wanted it to be more modern and more feminine, welcoming to everybody.” It's cool if you want to drink beer out of a can as much as a glass of expensive whiskey. Bring your favorite snacks or take out and you've got your evening set. My kind of place.
More budget-friendly than you might expect: Again, while Birch Road is a members-only place (codes and fingerprint-entry doors are part of the package), it aims to be more inclusive than exclusive, and membership rates reflect that. For more information, check out their website and get in touch with more details about the open house.
What do you think about social clubs? Something you want to check out, or not your scene? I'd love to hear about it in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter. You can also follow No Bags to Check on Pinterest.
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Filed under: Around Town