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Watertown’s Black River Valley Club adopts new membership structure to lure young professionals

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Recent changes at the Black River Valley Club include a new membership fee structure to attract young professionals and a discount on menu prices Thursday evenings for members, who previously ate free on those nights.

On “member’s night” Thursdays, a long-standing tradition at the 131 Washington St. club, members will receive discounts of about 50 percent on menu items because the club no longer can afford to offer the free meals, said manager David F. Boucher. A membership dinner drive will be hosted at 5 p.m. Sept. 13 at the club. Free dinner will be offered to prospective members at that event.

Approved by the board of directors in July, the changes come at a time when the club is trying to increase revenue to maintain its 108-year-old, three-story building, Mr. Boucher said.

“Our membership base and special events are our two main revenue streams,” he said. “Our motto here is ‘old traditions are opportunities’. And the Thursday member dinner is an old tradition that can be turned into an opportunity. We still want it to be a special night for members, but we don’t want to go bankrupt.”

The club’s membership structure, which initially was revised in January to be more affordable, was revamped again to offer lower fees for young members. The monthly fee structure for core members, who reside in Jefferson County at least six months a year, is as follows: ages 20-29, $20; 30-39, $30; 40-49, $40; 50 and up, $50. Other fees include $10 monthly for nonprofit organization representatives, $30 for military members, $100 for non-residents and $205 for upham members. A rule that required a minimum monthly charge of $75 to be spent at the club by members under 40 has been eliminated.

More entertainment also will be planned at upcoming Thursday member dinners, Mr. Boucher said, which, combined with discounted prices, is expected to garner stronger attendance. For example, a 16 oz. porterhouse steak, normally $30, will be priced at $15.

Another change, which started this spring at the club, is public lunches on Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m. with guided tours for prospective members.

The club also hired events coordinator Amanda J. Phillips this spring. The hospitality experience of the 28-year-old Watertown native includes positions at Copper Mountain Resort in Frisco, Colo., and Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev.

Visit www.brvclub.com for more information.

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