Charlottesville social club enters the River City

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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The Common House site will include co-working and office space
on the second and third floors. Courtesy Common House

A Charlottesville-based social club will debut in Richmond early next year.

Common House will open a location in the city’s Arts District, a five-story building at 305 W. Broad St.

“It’s a place you belong; your home away from home,” says co-owner Ben Pfinsgraff. “You can grab a seat there and never leave.”

In addition to offering a place to hang out, the venue will host events daily, including talks, workshops, luncheons and concerts. At 28,000 square feet, the Richmond facility will be triple the size of the Charlottesville location.

Many Common House members in Charlottesville use the club for work. The Richmond facility will accommodate business activities by offering co-working and office space on the second and third floors for an additional fee. 

The Richmond Common House also will have an oyster bar, which will be open to the public, as well as a rooftop restaurant for club members.

Common House is the brainchild of Pfinsgraff and co-owner Derek Sieg, a fellow U.Va. alumnus. They are looking to bring a retro concept to a modern audience.

Social clubs used to be common in cities before many people flocked to the suburbs in the second half of the 20th century. Now, urban areas like Charlottesville and Richmond are seeing their populations grow. Cities have plenty of restaurants and concert venues, but not a place that brings those concepts under one roof at an affordable price point, Pfinsgraff says.

He says the club fee is similar in price to a gym membership. Club memberships cost $75 per month for people under 30 years old plus a $100 initiation fee. Those over 30 pay $150 monthly in addition to a $300 initiation price. Couples pay $225 per month and $500 induction charge. Applications are reviewed, but only a handful of people have been turned away.

“Potential members are not ‘judged’ but rather the membership committee alerts management of any red flags, such as infractions against other members, etc.,” Pfinsgraff says.

The business is backed by roughly 35 investors, including Pfinsgraff and Sieg. The investors include prominent Virginia businessmen Warren Thompson, the president of Reston-based Thompson Hospitality, and Ted Ukrop, co-owner of Quirk Hotel, which started in Richmond and is expanding to Charlottesville. Ukrop’s family also owns Common House’s Richmond building.

The Charlottesville location, which opened about two years ago, has 1,200 members. The Richmond venue will be able to accommodate 3,000 memberships. Common House members will have access to both locations. Pfinsgraff and Sieg plan to expand the concept to cities beyond the commonwealth.

“Our initial focus would be to build a network of clubs throughout the Southeast and eventually nationwide,” Pfinsgraff says.

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