Youngstown Club Slated for Closing at Year-End
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Club will cease doing business at the end of the year, sources confirm to The Business Journal, but remain open through the holiday season and continue its tradition of cheese and peanut sales.
The club, established more than 100 years ago by the city’s captains of industry, operates on the fourth and fifth floors of the Commerce Building at 201 E. Commerce St. downtown. The building is owned by Ohio One Corp., whose president, Richard E. Mills, declined comment.
About 15 years ago, the club moved from its original location in the former Bank One building to its present site, the former Haber’s furniture store that Ohio One renovated as upscale office space and reopened as the Commerce Building. In the early 1960s, the Youngstown Club was destroyed in an arson fire that was suspected to result from business leaders organizing a public relations campaign against the entrenchment of organized crime in Youngstown, then dubbed ‘Bombtown USA” by national news organizations.
Until the club moved to the Commerce Building, women were prevented from using its main dining room.
“It’s no secret that one of the issues is not enough members support the club in its day-to-day operations,” says a board member who asked not to be identified because nothing has been settled in writing. “We just can’t stay open for special events and only serve a few diners at lunchtime and on weekends. Nobody can operate with that little business.”
Katie Dodd, manager of the club, said she could not confirm the closing. “You’re the fifth call I’ve received today,” she told a reporter. “I hope it’s not true.”
The Youngstown Club has managed to survive much longer than similar city clubs, including its counterparts in Akron and Canton. Its membership has fallen to fewer than 300, according to sources, and to help meet its overhead, the club has opened to the public for dining on selected special events at downtown venues and relaxed its dress code. Bookings for weddings and banquets provided most of its dwindling revenue.
The holiday season is the club's busiest, sources say, and thus the decision to hold off a closing until Jan. 1. Upcoming events include a “Wine Academy” Saturday, during which members and public can sample wines from Argentina and learn about the emerging wine industry there, and Thanksgiving Day buffet.
The club is known for its cocktail cheese spread and specialty roasted peanuts, which it will again offer for sale to the public during the holiday season.
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