National membership director of The Supper Club, Dawn Simpson Jones, spent up to two hours pouring over the list of attendees for the event. She had gotten to know most of them personally—through initial membership interviews as well as past events—and had enough details memorized to consider the potential talking points each guest could bring to a conversation as well as their personality traits.
“We want the storytelling to feel effortless. Sitting at the long banquet table, watching members and guests finally get into conversation and watching that unravel, having people at the end of the night say, ‘I think I met my new best friend’ or ‘I think I just met my future husband’—it’s pretty incredible,” she said.
The Supper Club is an upscale members-only social club across several U.S. cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and Miami) that hosts up to twelve events per month. The idea is to celebrate the lost art of the dinner party by creating impeccable, enjoyable events with fascinating people. These aren’t exactly your average dinner parties, though. In East Hampton one summer, Tom Colicchio cooked dinner at a private waterfront estate, Nicolas Feuillatte poured the champagne, Hendricks Gin crafted the cocktails, and Audi provided the transportation.
Another time, at Miami’s Art Basel, The Supper Club sipped Maestro Dobel tequila with Mexican artist Camille Rose Garcia on the Edition Hotel’s Matador Terrace. In Los Angeles, the 100 members who attended Picnic and Polo in the Park dined on Haute Chef LA cuisine in picnic baskets while they watched a polo tournament at Will Rogers Polo Club. The Marie Antoinette Fête in New York transported 75 costumed guests back to 17th century Versailles via the Pierre Hotel’s fairytale Rotunda Room, where they played parlor games and enjoyed classical arias.
The Supper Club events of today are a far cry from the club’s inaugural event, where founder Tamsin Lonsdale cooked fish pie for 20 guests in her family’s London home. Even so, the premise has always remained the same. Lonsdale started The Supper Club on a whim in 2005 while living in London and working as a fashion stylist. “I spotted a gap in the market,” she explained. “No one in London was hosting dinner parties for big groups at the time. Most of my contemporaries were going to nightclubs instead. I was bored of clubs and frustrated by the inability to have a proper conversation over the loud music.
“I wanted to bring back the art of the dinner party, how our parents used to entertain in the ’60s and ’70s: salon-style, with an eclectic mix of wonderful people sharing stories and engaging ideas,” Lonsdale said. The idea was a hit. Within a year, she decided to turn her hobby into a business. Now, there are hundreds of members, and annual membership fees range from $950 to $10,000. The company itself has grown to four dedicated women—three in Los Angeles (including Lonsdale) and one in Austin, Texas.
“The one constant with The Supper Club is that it’s fabulous, it’s glamorous, it’s beautiful, but it’s authentic,” said Dawn Simpson Jones. “There’s a lot of substance behind everything. We’re a group of four strong, educated, creative women behind this.” “In a way, I think it’s easier to be a female in this line of business,” said Lonsdale. “A lot of doors opened. People for the most part were very supportive. It’s a very personal business that has everything to do with relationships.”
Women excel at being social butterflies and warm hostesses but can also handle the organization and difficult work of managing detailed events across multiple cities, she added. “We create bespoke experiences for our members—from polo fields to private estates to new restaurants,” said Londsdale. “We like to weave art, music and fashion into the events to make it a one-of-a-kind evening.” This often includes details like flower arrangements on the table, passed craft cocktails (so guests won’t have to break up conversations to get to the bar), mood lighting, transformative spaces, talks with the chef, and of course, the optimized seating chart.
“We love to include a secret reveal at our dinner parties—usually during dessert—where one of the guests may stand up and perform on an electric violin, or a guest magician will do a special show, anything that creates a memorable experience,” said Lonsdale. The Supper Club planners love themed dinners, both the expected and unexpected kinds. Past themes have included Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Solstice, The Oscars… and also Seven Deadly Sins, a Jonathan Gold Food Lovers Series (where guests went on a culinary tour around Los Angeles), and a Krug champagne outing in New York to pair drinks with Greek food in Queens and Indian food in Brooklyn.
There is no “typical” Supper Club member, which inspires the event planners to be even more diverse and unexpected with their soirees. Members come from various backgrounds, but they tend to have a few common qualities—they’re passionate, talented, smart, stylish, worldly, interested in others and kind. Potential members are interviewed and vetted carefully to make sure they bring the right energy. Countless friendships and romances have blossomed through the club—Lonsdale even met her now-husband at an event, and several members of The Supper Club she now considers friends attended their wedding.
It was their special kind of consideration and attention to detail that helped The Supper Club during the pandemic, when they had to make some obvious changes. The Supper Club held complimentary virtual events and curated experiences for members, complete with multi-course tasting menus delivered to members’ doorsteps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as people grew more starved for socialization than ever, interest in The Supper Club increased. Now that in-person events have returned (at safe distances) and the rules of dining have changed temporarily, providing special events with unforgettable details and stimulating conversation seems more important than ever.
Written by Hillary Richard
For membership enquiries please contact Dawn Simpson Jones at Dawn@thesupperclubinc.com / 786-304-9330.