When Is a Members-Only Club Not a Members-Only Club?

A recent dispatch from NYC's Casa Cruz raises big questions

Event at Casa Cruz
Decor for the Clarins Precious intimate dinner event on April 06, 2023 at Casa Cruz.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Clarins USA

Members-only clubs are in demand these days, if Soho House’s recent announcement that it wouldn’t be adding new members for certain in-demand locations is any indication. Still, for New Yorkers looking to socialize, network and/or relax, Soho House isn’t the only game in town. In 2021, the Wall Street Journal noted that the London club Casa Cruz planned to open a New York location. And earlier this year, Martín Bianchi of El País wrote that “New York’s millionaires have been obsessing over clubs like Casa Cruz for 20 years.”

Precisely what sort of establishment Casa Cruz is is something Bianchi reckons with in his article, and it’s also the subject of an in-depth examination by Dana Brown at Air Mail. Brown’s article adopts a wry tone as it explores the past and present of membership clubs in NYC. This includes Casa Cruz, which — Brown notes — charges members an initiation fee of $250,000.

As Brown learned, having a quarter of a million dollars on hand isn’t the only way to get in the door at Casa Cruz. There’s also the restaurant that, while expensive, is open to all who can afford it. “[T]he private dining rooms and lounges on the upper floors are reserved for members,” Brown explains. As for the dining options, that also sounds enticing; Brown described the food on hand as “much better than it needed to be.” (Also, not inexpensive; his bill for a table for two came to $675.)

Soho House Has Good News and Bad News for People Concerned About Crowding
If you’re looking to join in New York, London or Los Angeles, you may be out of luck

Earlier this year, Casa Cruz founder Juan Santa Cruz told El País that the relatively small roster of members is part of the point. “My club is small, it’s only for our 99 members and their families,” Cruz said at the time. “But they are all very interesting people.” As Brown’s dispatch from the space illustrates, the process of finding the proper balance between exclusivity and overly crowded can take many forms.


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