Hate the smoke-clogged spaces of local taverns, and have a couple of grand on hand? Then The Loft is your kind of venue. Not that other “The Loft” above the Higgins Alley restaurant, but a new, exclusive, members-only club housed in the former Missoula punk rock landmark Jay’s Upstairs.
With plasma screen TVs, leather couches, and a granite bar, The Loft couldn’t be less like Jay’s grungy environs, and one of its owners, Whitefish Attorney Chad Wold, says that’s the point.
“I went to undergrad in Missoula and I spent a couple of nights walking through Jay’s. And I mean that literally, walking through Jay’s,” says Wold. “I still like punk rock, but I really shouldn’t be hanging out in punk rock bars at my age.”
Wold says he hopes to attract an upscale clientele of Missoula business people. Individual members to the club must pay a $2,000 initiation fee and monthly dues of $175, but the first 50 of the 100 members allowed get their initiation fee waved. Corporate members, capped at 65 total, will pay $5,000 for initiation (waived for the first 30) and $500 a month. Members will also enjoy privileges at other outposts of the club, with one already established in Whitefish, and with locations in Bozeman, Walla Walla, Wash., and Bend, Ore. set to open in the next 18 months.
“The best way I can describe [The Loft] is a country club without golf,” Wold says, adding that it’s much like the BPO Elks and Moose lodges were in their heyday.
Wold had the idea for an exclusive club/meeting area because he wanted a higher-end venue for meetings with clients.
“We’ve got some wonderful bars and restaurants in Whitefish, but not really a place that I felt comfortable taking clients,” he says.
Wold envisions the atmosphere at The Loft as a “high-end social scene” where people can bring their families and associates, but he insists it’s not elitist.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be exclusive. “You won’t see ads for this. You won’t see anything really for this place,” Wold says.