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Tampa's Centre Club centers on attracting new generation

The newly remodeled bar and lounge at Centre Club of Tampa, on the top floor of the Urban Centre Towers in the West Shore district, was designed to create a more casual and social atmosphere for the private club’s members.
The newly remodeled bar and lounge at Centre Club of Tampa, on the top floor of the Urban Centre Towers in the West Shore district, was designed to create a more casual and social atmosphere for the private club’s members.
Published Jul. 15, 2016

TAMPA

Overlooking the Tampa skyline, the Centre Club of Tampa has hosted area business leaders looking to wine and dine clients, network and throw parties for the last 32 years. • Located on the top floor of the Urban Centre Towers in the West Shore district, near the intersection of Kennedy and South West Shore boulevards, the members-only club is at the tail end of a $1.8 million facelift that they hope will better attract younger business leaders. • Membership director Robby Allender recently took a few minutes to give a peek into how things are going for the members-only club when it comes to attracting new blood, building a women's network and teaching executives how to cook.

What's with the new look?

We were a very traditional, private club before. We had dark woods, burgundies and the old school club feel with lots of marble. It wasn't energizing, especially as an office away from an office. We wanted a more casual, social atmosphere. The reason we wanted to renovate was to be more relevant. It's much more inviting for the younger generation.

How has the club's membership been impacted?

Membership has increased quite a bit. We're always looking for the newer generation of memberships. It's what a lot of companies are looking for. We're now the perfect space for say, a tech startup. Members feed off of the energy of other workers in this coworkspace environment.

Were the changes an attempt to better compete with other local clubs?

No, there is the Tampa Club downtown, the University Club, but they're not really considered competition. If they're living or working downtown another property might be a better fit. Our network of clubs (around the country through Club Corps) sets us apart from those other clubs. If they're traveling quite a bit, this is the perfect fit.

Half of your members are now women. Over 32 years, how do you avoid the boys club persona?

We were the first private club in the city of Tampa to have women on the board, so it was normal for us. In other clubs women were restricted from having women on the board or even being members, but we've been more inclusive than exclusive. It's our female leaders who have chosen to attract female leaders. Our members also have committees to plan events. We have a young executives society, we have an executive women's council, and we have a connection committee. We do that to ensure that every event is planned by our members, so it's relevant for our members.

Why in the heck is a business club offering cooking classes?

One of our demographics are foodies. Our history is first as a dining club. We have an executive chef. We revolve around culinary arts. We have live regular cooking demonstrations — the chef from Ceviche was here last month. In March we did a 'How to do corned beef and hash' and simple things on how to prepare a meal in those demonstrations. We also do actual cooking classes where members can get hands-on experience.

Contact Alli Knothe at aknothe@tampabay.com. Follow @KnotheA.