The Mid-Day Club, downtown's last private business lunch club, has received a face-lift that the group's officers hope will help bring new members to its tables on the top floor of the Liberty Building.
The 60-year-old club, which offers fine views of the city and the waterfront, closed in August while renovations were made to its main dining area, reading room and private dining room.
The renovations, which gave the club its first makeover in 15 years, were needed to try to shore up a shrinking membership base that has been stung over the years by the exodus of office jobs from downtown.
"If we don't do it, we were going to go the path of the Executive Club and all the other clubs," said W. Dennis Toole, the president of the 180-member club. "We had dropped below the level where there was a membership to sustain it."
So, rather than stand by and watch the organization's membership roll slowly dwindle, club officials decided to try to reverse the slide by investing in the renovation program, Toole said. Buffalo architect and club member Clinton E. Brown designed the renovation.
So far, Toole said he is encouraged by the results, which have seen the club take in 10 applications for new members since reopening in early September. The club also is trying to target professional women in its membership efforts.
The club gets most of its members from the legal and financial fields, with lawyers accounting for the biggest portion of the group's membership, followed by stock brokers, investment managers and insurance executives. "Virtually everybody knows everybody," Toole said.
Toole said the Mid-Day Club remains an attractive -- and affordable -- organization for downtown's professionals, who use the club for business lunches and also as a social organization. The group charges a $100 initiation fee and dues of $100 per quarter. The club also is available for private parties and breakfast meetings.
But Toole said the club has been stung by downtown's troubles over the years as law firms, banks and other professional offices have either closed or moved out to the suburbs, which means a member then must make a special trip downtown in order to use the club. The club lost 10 members, for instance, when a downtown insurance firm moved to the suburbs, he said.