The University Club has seen an increase in sales and membership since it kicked off a new marketing campaign at the beginning of the year.
The club, located at 1918 F St., offers late-night dining and drinking until 2 a.m. most nights, along with “happy hours,” jazz brunches and other special events. While most events at the club required membership last year, the University currently opens almost all gatherings to the general student population.
Robert Truelove, general manager of the University Club, said there was a “five-fold increase” in sales since last year. Truelove declined to give specific numbers.
Catering Solutions, which began managing the University Club in August, reduced membership costs from $65 per month to $40 for an academic year. The company also expanded the club’s menu and redesigned the two-floor dining area.
The club has a formal dining area upstairs, which includes conference rooms and meeting areas. The upstairs section is open to members for lunch Monday to Friday. The downstairs dining area, River Horse Bistro, is open to all students Monday to Saturday evening for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“Sales in the River Horse have been very encouraging,” said Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services. “The upstairs part of the club has a slower start, but in December it did significantly better.”
“(Officials have) been working hard to develop new programs and advertise the University Club to a broader audience,” he added. “But we are still looking to increase the volume of the club, increase membership and see more students and area organizations using the club.”
About 70 percent of the club’s patrons are faculty and staff, officials said.
Truelove said the club has 1,026 members but could not give numbers from last year because of a change in management. However, he said there was a definite increase in numbers.
He said under GW’s former contract with Club Corporation, which began managing the club six years ago, membership peaked with 1,200 members.
Membership was at its highest as the club moved from the Marvin Center to its current location, said Johnnie Osborne, associate vice president and chief financial officer for Student and Academic Support Services.
“About a year after the move to F Street the membership started to decrease, and since then membership numbers have not been at the level that they were at about four years ago,” Osborne said.
He said after membership decreased, GW gave Club Corporation a two year trial periodyo but the company was unable to attract more people.
Chernak said that despite progress, the University Club has constraints.
“Many clubs in D.C. get a lot of their profit from liquor sales,” he said. “Most of the diners at the U-Club are not 21, so beverage sales at the club are primarily on soft drinks and such. Also, the club can only seat x number of people at a time, there is no way to increase the amount of people we can serve at one time.”
Truelove said the River Horse Bistro is “filled to capacity” every night. The bistro seats 32 people, and at some points between 6 and 10 p.m. it is standing room only.
“I probably go to RH Bistro three times a week,” freshman Jen Cooperman said. “Between the takeout and sitting down there, it is a really good deal with good food. We go so much because it is so convenient.”
Truelove said officials have been discussing expanding the downstairs part of the club and adding more seating upstairs, but talks are in “preliminary” stages.