5 O'Clock Somewhere: The Social

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Nestled between the frenzied energy of Park Street Patio and the chic electricity of Sugar Bar is a small, inviting club. It's lit dimly and quieter than those around it. In an effort to escape the masses, you decide to check it out.

Be prepared for a catch: The district's newest addition is a members-only club, accessible only to those who pony up $29 a month. For now, potential members can check out The Social for free on Thursday nights, but you have to pay your dues before you can get in on Fridays and Saturdays.

Membership is based on a month-to-month deal, with no contracts and a rather informal vetting process. If management doesn't know an applicant personally, they'll call to ask a few quick questions.

The idea's not to keep people out, but to welcome in those who really want to be there, said Mike Gallicchio, one of the developers behind The Social.

"The [membership fee] is like four drinks a month," he explained. "We're not trying to be elitist. I want a laid-back spot for friends and people who want to hang out with each other."

There's plenty of room for socializing within the swanky bar, which is clean and elegant without being overly flashy.

A front room holds a medium-sized bar, and the vibe intensifies a bit as you head back to a dance lounge with flashing, red LED lights. Things unwind upstairs in a comfortable chill spot with a secondary bar and a rooftop patio overlooking the Short North.

Drink prices are similar to what you'd pay at most local lounges: $4 for domestic bottles, wine starting at $6 a glass and specialty martinis running about $9. There are also some higher-end choices you wouldn't find in your average Arena District bar, like $450 bottles of Cristal and 11 varieties of Scotch.

To sate your stomach, there's a menu with pizza ($10), a variety of shared-plate appetizers ($6-$10) and funnel-cake bites for dessert ($7).

The members-only venture might seem like a stretch until you realize that Gallicchio and partner Chris Corso have enjoyed a golden track record during the past decade. The two made Long Street a destination in the late '90s, when Downtown was a tomb, then ignited Park Street brick by brick.

They've made a career of making crazy ideas work.

"It's definitely a novel concept," Gallicchio added. "I think people in Columbus are getting more acclimated to the idea."

Fringe Benefits

The $29 monthly fee to join The Social comes with a few interesting benefits, including:

- A $200 bottle of spirits and $200 in food on your birthday

- $30 tab with registration

- Monthly wine and food tasting

- Free entry to Sugar Bar and Park Street Patio

- Monthly spa night for ladies, with makeovers and champagne tastings

The Social

527 Park St., Arena District

Web: social.thecgsgroup.com

Hours: 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thursday-Sunday

In short: Swanky chic for a monthly fee