AT A GLANCE
Owner: Phil Windham, owner of Chattanooga Billiards Club
Location: 725 Cherry St.
Membership dues: Lifetime membership of $10,000 or monthly fees of $100
Amenities: Meals served in dining lounge, private meeting rooms for business gatherings, high-speed Internet in private study rooms, lockers, cocktail lounge
Slogan: "The place where business meets"
A decade before the Tennessee Aquarium opened and Chattanooga began its downtown revival, Phil Windham opened his billiards club in the central city to get a cheap place to start his business.
"We were down here when downtown wasn't particularly popular," Windham recalled, noting he initially paid only $200 a month to rent the second story of a Cherry Street storefront.
But over the past three decades, Windham has expanded his downtown Chattanooga Billiards Club and added other clubs in East Brainerd and Cleveland, Tenn.
Now, Windham wants to open a downtown business club.
Located above his two-story billiards club and cigar shop, the proposed Cherry Street business club is being dubbed "The Third Floor." Windham said he hopes to soon start on a $1 million plan to convert the vacant 5,500-square-foot space into a private club targeting business owners and entrepreneurs.
"We're trying to pre-sell the idea and, if we get enough members signed up, we'll pull the trigger and try to open the club by next spring," Windham said.
The Third Floor will have a lounge, billiards room, office space, dining room and kitchen to prepare light lunches and snacks along with steaks and prime beef dinners at night.
Lynn Gibson, a marketing consultant promoting the Third Floor, says the club will be like "a Starbucks on steroids" with more privacy than what is offered at local restaurants or coffee shops. A private elevator will take members and their guests directly to The Third Floor, which will operate with a separate kitchen, lounge and staff from the Chattanooga Billiards Club below.
"It will be a great place for business people to come during the day to do some work or meet with clients or other people," Gibson said. "We want this to be a place to socialize with a glass of wine or a cigar, and also a place where you can get a great steak dinner or use a private meeting area to carry on your business."
The Third Floor would be similar to other private clubs in Chattanooga, including the Mountain City Club or the Walden Cub on Chestnut Street.
Organizers of the club are trying to draw 100 founding members willing to pay $10,000 to join and 200 other members willing to join and pay $200 a month in dues for access to the club facilities. So far, nearly a dozen founding members and more than 40 others have signed up for the ongoing monthly fee.
"I've enjoyed a lot of success with my other ventures through the year and I think with all that is going on downtown now there should be a good demand for this type of club," Windham said.
Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...