Burlingame CC’s new lobby/bar makes the right first impression by combining “mountain elegance” with welcoming “Wows.”
“Mountain elegance” is the vibe Burlingame Country Club sought to project with its recent renovation of the club’s first-impression lobby and eat-in bar area.
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in Sapphire, N.C., the club undertook the $1.5 million bar/lobby/dining renovation shortly after completing a separate overhaul of the kitchen.
A comprehensive facilities study identified the need for a social-gathering space, explains General Manager/COO Brian McEnteer, along with a fresh new look to attract new members.
“The members we’re seeing today are looking for a centralized social location; someplace they can watch a game, have a drink in the bar,” he notes. “We have a very active club. We were lacking the space for them to congregate, sit, have a drink, have lunch.”
The original lounge was not welcoming, nor was the lobby, where prospective members would get their first impression of the club, he adds. The facility needed a facelift, McEnteer notes, as well as updates for ADA compliance.
“It was about creating that ‘Wow’ factor,” he continues. “When selling memberships, you only have once chance to make a first impression. The goal was to build this for our members, but also for future members.”
Equally important as providing a welcome into a fresh, updated space was incorporating the region’s natural splendor, as well as North Carolina-themed finishes. Refurbished heart-of-pine flooring, natural slate stone and pine shiplap fit the bill.
“We had these warm mountain effects that we wanted to enhance,” says McEnteer. The stone fireplace theme was carried through to new slate flooring around the bar.
The project called for converting a previous closed-door boardroom to help create the open bar/lobby, and that led to some unexpected modification, McEnteer reports.
By removing the walls, the renovation exposed spectacular views of the golf course and surrounding mountains, he explained. “We realized we had one of the best views, and it was sitting in this dark room,” he says.
The tear-down for the project also revealed two steel columns that had to be removed. The roof above the bar was then restructured with 35 to 40 feet of steel beams, made from sections that were bolted together.
Form and function dictated the choice of stone versus pine for the bar-area flooring, according to J. Michael Taylor, Managing Principal of DP3 Architect Ltd., which handled architectural and interior design responsibilities on the project.
The sturdier stone holds up under abuse from moving bar stools, Taylor explains. “We looked a long time for that [stone], because we wanted to be sure it was flush with the pine flooring so there wasn’t a trip hazard,” he says. “The challenge was to get a stone flooring that was thin enough.”
Painted pine shiplap accent walls add to the authentic mountain feel of the space. The light beige paint was thinned to half strength, to allow the wood grain and knots to show through, notes Taylor. The lighter wood floors and walls contrast with the walnut-stained maple bar, which has a black granite counter.
McEnteer personally designed the new full-service bar, working with Michigan-based Glastender Inc. to incorporate a unique bar tap. “We’re near Asheville [N.C.],” McEntee explains. “It’s all about the beer in Asheville. We wanted to do something that’s signature to western North Carolina.”
“I’m selling beer like crazy, and [the bar tap] is starting to be a conversation piece now,” he adds. “We didn’t want it to look too industrial, so we had it powder-coated to match all the other trim. It really fits with all of the other hardware around the rest of the bar.”
The bar is prefabricated with metal studs and stainless steel, allowing bar equipment to hang on the wall, and the exterior wood panels can be removed when needed to service the equipment.
The new area—which McEnteer calls “the perfect size for our club”—features 20 custom-designed bar stools, along with high-top tables and an exclusive bar menu for lighter fare.
Before the renovation, Burlingame CC offered only two service bars. Now, the new lobby bar attracts members before and after recreational activities, as well as before and after meals in the adjacent casual-dining area.
“There’s a lot of activity that happens during the day, where members will stop in and have lunch or just grab a beer after golf,” McEnteer says. “Before and after meal times, that bar is really getting used.”
The overhead glass-and-wood storage area is backlit with LED lighting, to add “color and glitz” to the space, according to Taylor. “At night, the top of the bar really glows with the color of the alcohol, as well as the bottles.”
The lighting flows through to the adjacent sitting area, complete with a stone fireplace and piano. Chandeliers and a custom light fixture create the mood and lend to the authentic feel.
Leather and upholstered chairs and a custom, live-edge walnut coffee table, built by Marietta, S.C.-based artisan Joe Crawford, are accented by a custom-designed rug. “The tall chair backs define the space, to create a separate space for the lounge,” says Whitney Spafford, an interior designer for DP3.
Since the renovation, member reaction has been “overwhelmingly positive,” says McEnteer, as evidenced by a 28 percent increase in food-and-beverage sales in 2018 over 2017.
The renovations and resulting publicity have also resulted in double the number of new members gained in a typical year, he reports. And the additional labor cost the club incurred for two new, full-time bartenders in the space has been “wholly absorbed” by the increased sales and membership, he adds.
Burlingame Country Club
Achitect: DP3 Architects, Ltd
Interior Design: DP3 Architects, Ltd
Carpet: Brintons Carpets
Lighting: Circa Lighting, Ashore Chandeliers
Slate floor: Daltile
Seating: Fairfield Chair
Custom Bar Stools: SYNC Contract
Bar Equipment: Glastender
Sideboard/Drink Tables: Woodbridge Furniture
Custom Live-Edge Coffee Table: Joe Crawford (Marietta, S.C.)