A new general manager guides Miami City Club revival
By Meena Rupani
Downtown at the Miami City Club, members are returning after the club regained management of the facility following a failed partnership.
New general manager Nancy Laurie came in the first week of July in hopes of "bringing back the same energy the club used to have before the partnership," she said.
Previously, Ms. Laurie was general manager of other country clubs and private clubs.
"It's time we brought to the club back to where it was; it used to be the premiere business club in town," she said.
In 2006, the club's board decided to bring in Havana Club Enterprises, which introduced new programs and members in addition to giving the club a tropical theme.
However, "changes were not well-received by all members," said Ruth Shack, the club's board chair. The club regained management in June 2009.
"We have gone from bad management to outstanding management. The Havana Club turned it into more of a nightclub versus a place where members just wanted to get together," Ms. Shack added.
Miami City Club was originally two separate clubs, the Miami Club and the City Club: but a federal tax reform in the mid-1980s and a transformed downtown drove decreased membership and the two clubs merged into Miami City Club in 1994.
From July 2009 to July 2010, membership increased 25%, said Chanel Caton, club membership director.
"Other membership details cannot be released to the public because the club is a private one," Ms. Laurie said.
During the transition, John Collier, former general manager of the Bankers Club, came in as interim general manager from July 2009 to June 2010.
"I came out of retirement to help the club out when they needed it. After Nancy is fully transitioned, then I will go back into retirement," Mr. Collier said.
The 15,524-square-foot club occupies the 55th floor of the Wachovia Financial Center. It's open for three meals a day and has "reinstated the buffet for business professionals who are in a hurry," Ms. Shack said.
Lunch and dinner entrees start at $12, Ms. Laurie said.
The club also hosts dinners for members who enjoy going to nearby AmericanAirlines Arena for Miami Heat games. The club also hosts business gatherings, weddings and other private functions to generate revenue.
"It's great for businesses to come in for breakfast and see their peers from the business community," Ms. Shack said. "It's also a great place for them to entertain their clients."
Ms. Laurie has many ideas for upcoming events.
"Wine tastings, single-malt tastings, cooking classes are all things we would like to do here. A speaker series is also in the works, which would bring prominent members of the business community to discuss current issues and matters."
"For the year we were in transition, not a lot of these initiatives were carried out. Now with Nancy the vision will be a confirmed statue," Ms. Caton said.
The lounge is also open to members with special drinks and an extensive wine list.
Ms. Shack says one other perk is largely forgotten.
"Once you are a member, you have access to private clubs across the country. For example, I was just in Washington, DC, and was able to have meals at the Cosmos Club."
The unique location, Ms. Shack says, is what separates the Miami City Club from other private clubs.
"No one has the location that we have; we are practically at the top of Miami-Dade County."
The club overlooks Biscayne Bay, the Port of Miami, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.
"Not to mention the way you are treated is very special," Ms. Shack says, "and let's not forget about all the great food."