One of the city’s most exclusive and popular pop-ups has just made it a little easier to join the club. Starting today, Dinner Lab — the supper club “conceived with the simple notion of discovery” — has launched a no-fee membership option.
Started in New Orleans in 2012, the underground dining club now operates in over two dozen cities nationwide. It began as a space where both chefs could experiment and in-the-know gourmands could flock. The initial concept was simple: Interested and informed diners paid $175 for a subscription and they received an e-mail when a dinner was on the books. If they were interested in that particular event, they could then pay an additional $50 to $80 fee to attend the multi-course meal, drinks and tips included. Added to the list, they then received an e-mail the day before the dinner with the location (usually somewhere unconventional, like former brothels or warehouses). Chefs won because they could share new concepts with and get feedback from a captive, informed audience while attendees treasured a clandestine experience that connected them with a larger, enthusiastic dining community.
This general model remains, except interested diners are no longer required to pay the initial $175 membership fee. Instead, they have a couple of options:
- Dinner Lab Member
- $0/year dues
- Anyone can be a Member and attend a Dinner Lab event, as long as they sign up for a free account.
- Members do not pay annual dues, and thus do not have access to the “Select Member” perks
- Access includes the ability to attend unlimited amount of Dinner Lab experiences
- Dinner Lab Select Member
- $175/year dues
- Dinner Lab Select Members can sign up for an account and submit annual dues in advance.
- Paying annual dues gives access to a number of special perks including:
- The ability to attend events across the country at a discounted price
- Three weeks advance notification of events and early sign up
- “Select Members”-only events like happy hours, seasonal parties, classes and chef demos.
Individual dinners will stay at 110 to 130 people but increase in frequency. When asked about the Dinner Lab’s new tiered membership model, co-founder Brian Bordainick expressed excitement that there’s now less of a barrier for interested customers “to interact with the brand.” “We’ve gotten really good at throwing cool dinner parties,” he added, “and the community that we’ve built is what we’re most proud of.”