Letter #36

Happy Friday everyone,

Year-end: a time to extend a “Happy Holidays” to you all and wish you and your family health and happiness in the New Year. It’s also time to reflect on the year that was and to look ahead.

A year as President; I believe it would be customary to tell you what an honor it has been to serve the membership in this role. The honor has been serving the Club employees. What a wonderful group! I haven’t worked closely with each one of them but the year has provided a new vantage point for me and I’ve seen enough to be utterly amazed at how well they handle our entitled, myopic, self-centered selves, as members, every single day. It’s incredible. The list of examples is endless and comes from every quarter; custodians, member services, lifeguards, instructors, food prep and service, and more.

May I give you one last reminder, as the holiday spirit overwhelms you, to please remember to call the Club (415.789.7900) or quickly go on-line here and make a contribution to the holiday employee gift fund which we’re extending for one more day? Just tell whomever answers that you’d like to make a contribution, they’ll verify who you are and make the notation in your account – it’s that easy. To those of you who have already made theirs; thanks a million. You’ve been more generous this year but, unfortunately, there are less of you – so far. With a day to go before the fund closes, 16% of the membership has contributed $14,900k. That’s a substantially smaller percentage of the membership making well above average contributions per member family ($110 per) to come in below the average total annual raise. Come on, let’s close strong and not allow a few really nice members to carry the rest of us. Each employee (non-management) receives a check and a list of who contributed and I can tell you, because they’ve told me – it really makes a difference.

A ballot will be put in front of you in January and there will be a pre-ballot meeting held on January 9th at 7pm (mark your calendars for that one). As you know, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, the ballot contains a variety of measures that need your approval in order to proceed with the enhancement of several needy areas of the Club. Each measure of this ballot and all the capital improvement projects for the foreseeable future (measured in years) will be proposed under the same condition; no dues increase, no assessment and no additional debt undertaken in association with any of these projects.

Having no interest in derailing a successful ballot, I think it only fair to remind you that events earlier this year are unequivocal cause for a dues increase that we’ll probably see in the mid-2014 time frame. The increase will most likely be at the low end of a +5-10% range. Yes, this dues increase is connected directly to taking the Bar & Grill operation in house, substantially lowering prices, and accepting the reality that 99% of all private club food operations lose money.

We spent this year trying to put a food model to work with high levels of member satisfaction while losing as little $ as possible. The team now has 8 months of operations under its belt and we know about how much it will lose in the coming year. The loss associated with the Bar & Grill will run about $13/month additional per regular member family (1/2 that for senior members). Off a current base of ~$200/mo in dues, that’s a 6.5% increase. There you go – it’s coming and I thought you should all be reminded of it in advance of the ballot so that no one (someone will, of course) yell foul!

This leads nicely to the issue of a food minimum. As a member and officer of the Club, I’m agnostic about whether we approve a food minimum or not. It isn’t a panacea for completely erasing the shortfall in F&B each year; the money comes out of our pockets no matter what. A food minimum does tilt the burden toward the non-user, however. By how much, I don’t know. How much smaller the coming dues increase would be with a food minimum thrown in is completely variable and is directly related to the number of members who wouldn’t meet their minimum and wouldn’t do anything about it (that money goes right to the bottom line, if you follow me). At any rate, a food minimum is a dues increase but only for those who don’t use the Bar & Grill. Theoretically, it’s levied against members who don’t use the Club. The one element of the food minimum that does appeal to me is that it might be a catalyst for Club non-users to tender their membership to one of the 100+ families patiently waiting in line to pay their $18k to become members and use the Bar & Grill. That’s my take away – and I fully understand if it’s not yours.

That said – I sincerely wish you the Merriest Holiday (of whatever you celebrate) and a Very Healthy and Happy New Year!

All the best,



  1. Jeanette Mathews says:

    I do not use the Bar and Grill and do not wish a food minimum

  2. Keith Ogden says:

    I strongly support a food minimum. Even a modest food minimum of $50 a quarter would be great. I do support a food minimum with one caveat: winter hours must be expanded if you have a minimum.

    regards -keith

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