When you think of a social club, a few words probably come to mind: wealth, status and exclusivity. Many members clubs perpetuate these themes through charging high member dues, requiring letters of recommendation from existing members that tend to favor those in similar social circles and lacking in diverse recruitment practices. Not Clayton. Clayton Members Club is a new type of members club that focuses on opportunity equity to lift members up and serve the Denver community.
The Member’s Club
According to membership director Rachel Smith, Clayton Members Club was designed to bring together a powerful group of people to impact the Denver community at a hyperlocal level. “When you build a community of people whose membership body is this powerful group of people who believe in the same things, they can start to affect real, meaningful change,” said Smith. Prior to building the Clayton membership community, Smith worked as membership director at the infamous SoHo House — another members club that started in London and now has houses in 27 cities around the world. Her goal with Clayton is to open up the opportunity for anyone who wants to make an impact and eliminate the financial barrier to entry. While a regular membership is $3,000 per year, there are several ways to get a reduced or free membership. If you’re under 30 years old you automatically get a membership at half the cost and if you can contribute other skills to the community, you can get all dues waived. Examples of contributions include donating artwork to the club, teaching classes like yoga or group fitness, or becoming a nonprofit partner.
Of course, as a members club, there is still an element of exclusivity and it isn’t easy to become a member. You have to prove that you embody Clayton’s five pillars: be authentic, be generous, be inclusive, be curious and be fun, in an application as well as prove that to the membership committee. In order to build a diverse membership community — it’s currently 47% BIPOC. Smith started out by speaking with Juan Padró — partner at Culinary Creative group and owner of Highland Tap & Burger and Clayton’s neighboring cocktail bar, Forget Me Not. Padró then introduced Smith to Kendra Anderson — previous owner of Bar Helix and another star to know in Denver. Anderson built the Opportunity, Equity and Inclusion (OEI) program at Clayton and is heading up Clayton Contributes — the organization’s philanthropic arm.
“My goal is to open my Rolodex and find out how I can support our goals around OEI. I had been a management consultant previously so I was able to partner with this amazing team of people and be super intentional and thoughtful,” said Anderson.
Clayton Contributes will show up in many facets of the organization — 1% of every purchase made at the Clayton Hotel and its restaurants will go directly to Clayton Contributes. The philanthropy will partner with hyperlocal, Denver-based nonprofits and organizations that are actively advancing OEI for the community. Through monetary donations, member volunteer opportunities and more, members will be able to give back through every way they engage with the club. “It’s ongoing philanthropic mindfulness,” said Anderson.
The Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe
The club’s home is in the new Clayton Hotel in Cherry Creek — a 63 room boutique hotel with a market, restaurant and cocktail bar that are all open to the public. Of A Kind is the hotel’s restaurant offering a modern and elegant space for diners to enjoy Mediterranean and California-inspired coastal cuisine. Chef Brandon Duley introduces a bright, fresh menu that beautifully mingles the flavors of the Mediterranean with the modern simplicity of California cuisine. Dishes like berbere rubbed lamb shank ($42) with a medley of cauliflower rice and farro compliment small plates like tuna tartare ($20) and chicken shawarma hummus ($15) served with made-to-order pitas. The full bar offers a range of international wines, craft beers, and refreshing cocktails that pair deliciously with the clean menu. Duley established his career in the Los Angeles food scene working at Gjelina and Ardor at The West Hollywood EDITION Hotel, a John Fraser restaurant. He brings 15 years of experience to Clayton’s kitchens and a philosophy of scratch-made, responsibly sourced food. Of A Kind utilizes local ingredients as much as possible including greens from Esoterra Culinary Garden and grains from Noble Grain Alliance.
OAK Market — also helmed by Duley — acts as Clayton’s more casual, takeaway concept. OAK offers to-go items like breakfast bowls, pastries, smoothies, paninis and coffee in addition to housing Smith and Cannon ice cream. If you’re in the mood for dessert or an afternoon treat, Smith and Cannon makes an incredible affogato. Or if you are more interested in a quiet, moody space to grab a cocktail, Five Nines will welcome you with open arms. The speakeasy is hidden behind OAK Market and will also host member events like comedy nights, live music, and guest bartending nights.
Once you move up to the second floor of the hotel — which you can only do if you are a member or a hotel guest — you’ll find conference rooms, a ballroom, a library with books supplied by Tattered Cover, another bar and a members-only restaurant. “The idea is that if a member is coming in five times a week, they’ll want a diverse array of options,” said Smith. You’ll notice the unique and beautiful art adorning the walls as you walk from room to room. “Every space has its own personality and energy,” Smith explained. The art is commissioned by six different local artists and the artwork on the second floor hallway is all for sale. “Inspiring creativity through art is a big focus,” said Smith. As you make your way up to the rooftop, you’ll walk out to an amazing indoor-outdoor bar with a connecting pool. The bar will serve light fare like pizzas, flatbreads and salads as well as tropical vacation-themed cocktails. You can expect pool parties, weekend brunches and private events to take place there as well.
The exciting part is, all hotel guests are able to enjoy the same amenities as members. So, next time you’re in need of a Denver staycation, the Clayton Hotel will not disappoint. From the delicious fare at Of A Kind to the Smith and Cannon ice cream at OAK Market and the fascinating art adorning the walls, once you enter you may never want to leave.
Clayton is now accepting membership applications from the public, if you’re interested in applying click here. Of A Kind and OAK Market are now open and Five Nines will open on May 10. Currently, OAK Market is open daily 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Of A Kind is open Tuesday – Sunday 5 – 10 p.m. Five Nines will be open Wednesday 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Friday – Saturday 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. with a member’s only night on Thursdays 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.