A Tale of Valentine’s Woe: The City Tavern Club

Let me just start with the good part. My good friend Mike got engaged to his lovely girlfriend Monica tonight at Paolo’s in Georgetown. I got to watch this week as my friend went through a lot of the same steps that I did two and a half years ago, visiting the jeweler (Boone & Sons on Connecticut for both of us), talking over settings and stones, stressing about the arrangements and all manner of logistics.

When he invited us to join them in the tap room of the City Tavern Club on M Street, we accepted. I knew that it was not a place I could show up in jeans and sneakers, but I was surprised tonight when I was asked to leave when I merely wasn’t wearing a collar. Sure I had $140 tailored slacks, and a $130 cashmere sweater from Lands End on, in addition to my black Italian-made wool great coat that was a gift from my father at Christmas two years ago. But all I was missing was a $7.50 Polo Shirt from Wal-Mart, as the Tavern Club doesn’t allow patrons without collars.

So, instead of being able to toast our friends on the day of their engagement, we had to settle for a hug and an embarrassed trip back through the club to the street like so much riff-raff.

Never mind that we were guests of a member.

Never mind that we certainly were not shabbily dressed.

But all because I hadn’t had the foresight to wear a cheap-ass polo shirt from Wal-Mart under my sweater… out on the street, riff raff!

So, we will have to take Mike and Monica to dinner some place in the near future, but all of this leaves me wondering: What the hell is the purpose of a place like that in this day and age? Sure there was a time for that, but what purpose is there for me in a club like that? If I can’t go in dressed as I normally do (my winter attire is a nice sweater and jeans or khakis) then what’s the freakin’ point? Surely if they can’t pitch themselves to members of the younger generations (and I don’t just mean Thad, Chad, Lad, Cad and Brad) then they will go the way of the dinosaur. And if they can’t figure out someone who’s dressed appropriately from someone who’s not, then I’ll vote with my feet.

5 Comments so far

  1. Krempasky (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 7:14 am

    Got EPIC apology from general manager for bar supervisor’s asshattery. But even bigger apology to you two. Aside from the remarkable daze I’m in – I woke up ticked about it.

  2. dawn (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 9:35 am

    I’ve walked into many an upscale place while traveling, while in jeans and a nice shirt, and I’ve never been denied service. (Money is money, no?)

    Most major cities’ nice restaurants expect people to be on-the-go and not have access to a freaking tux and tails or whatever archaic standard of dress was once required.

    That’s just plain wrong. Boo! Hiss!

  3. mary ann (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

    The Country Club where I got married has similar rules. I got in the car with my mom to go to the first planning meeting with the events coordinator and she was like "You can’t wear that". Never mind that "that" was a skirt and a nice t-shirt in the middle of the day in June. I had to go in and pull a (wrinkled) polo shirt on before we could leave. Apparently, collars are really important to some people.

  4. Beth (unregistered) on February 17th, 2008 @ 1:24 am

    If your friends are members, why didn’t they mention the dress code when they invited you? Did they know about it?

  5. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on February 17th, 2008 @ 11:17 am

    Beth, I followed my best judgment. I knew they had a dress code, but I assumed in good slacks, good shoes and a nice sweater I’d be above reproach.

    Sadly, their dress code only values a $7.50 wal-mart polo shirt and not a nice cashmere sweater. Some dress codes are so stupid they defy convention.

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