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Vinings Club manager: Options considered before closing
by Everett Catts
June 24, 2014 04:18 PM | 1439 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The manager of The Vinings Club said club leaders considered several options before deciding it to close for financial reasons.

In an interview last week, Managing Director Harold Drennon said the 27-year-old club, which closed Monday, considered finding a new owner/operator but could not.

“There were other options considered and looked at and none of those came together,” he said. “The club’s just not got the revenues it needs to sustain.”

Owned and operated by Alpharetta-based Club Management Enterprises LLC, the club offered a fitness center and spa, a dining room and space for meetings and events, including weddings. Club leaders decided within the last month to close it, Drennon said, and sent letters to its members in mid-June.

The club was located in the Overlook III building, which was bought by Goddard Investment Group in October. But Drennon said Goddard, which is renovating the building, did not impact the club in its decision to close.

“I’m not going to say that it had anything to do with the club’s decision,” he said. “There is a new owner. They are making changes to the building, physical changes inside and out.”

Drennon also said the timing of the club’s closing was not related to its lease, which does not expire until at least two years from now.

“From a business perspective it was the right time to close it,” he said.

The main reason for the club’s closing was a decline in membership from its peak of 1,160 in 2007 to about 700 today, Drennon said.

“Membership is the driving factor behind the club,” he said. “Had we had more members, it would have changed the financial outlook.”

Drennon said the club has about 40 employees and club leaders are doing all they can to help them get jobs elsewhere.

“There’s a number of contacts that have been made by us,” he said. “We’re talking to other clubs and people in the hospitality business and providing recommendations. … A lot of members have put forth efforts on their behalf as well.”

Drennon said he did not know what would happen to the club’s space, which is 35,000 square feet, after it closed.

Steve DeVinney, a Goddard principal, declined to comment on the club’s closing or what will happen to the space.

Drennon, who worked at the club for 13 years and does not have a new job lined up yet, said he is unhappy to see it close.

“Let’s just say I’m very disappointed and very sad,” he said. “I will certainly miss the excellent staff at the club and the members. It’s certainly not a very good time.”

Bruce Cook, one of the club’s founding members, and Joanne Robblee, the incoming president of the Rotary Club of Vinings, which met at the club, both said they were disappointed to see it close.

“I feel like it’s a personal loss of family, a sense of loss of family, a sense of loss of personal gathering,” Cook said. “Our church [Vinings United Methodist] went up there every Thursday and had a meal there. I worked out there and had a meal there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was in their cocktail hour each Thursday for about 20 years. It will take several months to get over it and replace it. I’ve been to other clubs in the area and nothing comes close to it.”

Said Robblee, “It’s a sense of family. I think there’s been a wonderful relationship with the club [and Rotary]. We’ve gotten to know the wait staff. They’re absolutely amazing. It’s such a loss to us. They’re so helpful that it’s so sad. We’re losing a family.”
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