Make us your home page
Instagram

Beach Drive hotel to add club with a twist

Pssst. Hey, buddy. Know where a guy can get some giggle juice?

Fans of the Roaring '20s will have a place to get a wiggle on and sip the hair of the dog this month when Grayl's Hotel opens the Prohibition Club, a private social venue playing off the building's year, 1922.

"This has been a dream of mine for so many years," said Dale Grayl, who with his wife, Mary, bought the 30-room Beach Drive hotel in 1994. "The building is what makes it. You couldn't do this anywhere else."

Grayl has spent the past year renovating the first floor for the club. He's converting 10 guest rooms into eight sipping "parlors."

Grayl said he's not aiming for the gangster era but rather the Jazz Age, with its "flashy cars and characters." The club is not hidden behind closed doors like a speakeasy; it has plenty of windows.

"It's not a knock-on-the-door type place," Grayl said. "You want to be seen here."

The owner wants the place to be seen, too. He spent about $2-million on the renovation, with more coming in subsequent phases. The interiors include Brazilian cherry floors, copper ceilings, beveled mirrors, and neon lights recessed in wooden moldings carved like grapevines.

An 86-foot awning will wrap around the front corner of the building. Grayl will harden the front lawn and use it to display a growing fleet of 1920s cars for show and livery service. A dance floor inside sits on its own separate concrete slab so those doing the Charleston won't disturb other guests.

When all is said and done, Grayl will end up with the club, a cigar lounge upstairs and a 300-seat public restaurant on the south patio. He'll be left with only about 17 hotel rooms.

"I'll make 10 times more money on those rooms," he said, "because I'll have these facilities."

Membership doesn't come cheap. Annual dues start at $995, after a $3,000 initiation fee. Access to the club is for members and hotel guests only, but members will get deals in the club, the restaurant and hotel.

The club was originally part of plans to add five stories to the hotel. Now bookended by condo buildings Parkshore and 400 Beach Drive, with rumors of another hotel going up nearby, the hotel has to do something to thrive, Grayl said. He said downtown residents didn't like his vertical expansion plans, but he hopes the club will be welcomed.

"This is not going to be some tourist trap," said Grayl, 58. "This will be a tourist destination."

Only two of the parlors are finished, but Grayl insists on opening this month. He said annual memberships won't start counting "until the fat bar sings," pointing to the last room slated for completion. The restaurant won't open until 2009, and the cigar lounge after that.

The couple plan to have about 1,500 members and said that more than 100 have already signed up. There are memberships for singles, couples and families and corporate arrangements. Members get their own display case for their private glassware. And a liquor "stash in case the feds show up," Grayl said.

The Grayls get misty when they look at the finished product of their initial $725,000 purchase.

"Every night we sit in a different chair so we can see different things," said Mary, who manages their other business, Wave Pool and Spa. "In the daytime, it's pretty, but at night it just glows."

Paul Swider can be reached at pswider@sptimes.com or 892-2271.

>>if you go

Prohibition Club

Grayl's Hotel

340 Beach Drive

prohibitionclub.com

Beach Drive hotel to add club with a twist 03/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 3:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]