Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Place For 'Hom'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/28/2009 No comments
I emailed an event sponsor this morning about an event that seemed to have been moved from Hom to Suite. She emailed me back saying that the event has been moved to Suite because Hom closed this week. Wow!

Hom, the once-popular and very swank nightclub that's "home" to three levels known as Liv, Feast, and Play, lasted 14 months. I blame its closing largely on two things: the bad economy and the EpiCentre. The economy has people being more frugal and selective with their spending dollars. And the EpiCentre (the massive entertainment complex that houses Suite, Whisky River, BlackFinn, PJ's Coffee Lounge, Wild Wing Cafe, EpiCentre Theatres, the StrikeCity bowling alley that just opened a few days ago, and several other places that are too many to name) has partiers not wanting to leave College Street.

Liv, the bottom level at Hom, is the lounge.

Feast, the middle level at Hom, is the eatery.

Play, the top level at Hom, is the dance club.

The downward spiral of the economy and the ascension of EpiCentre were beyond Hom's control, but the nightclub has to bear some of the responsibility for its own undoing. The last time I partied at Hom was on New Year's Eve. My friends and I had a fairly good time, all things considered. All clubs are packed on NYE so I don't expect things to be perfect. But Hom struggled handling the large crowd, particularly at Feast where many people, including my date and I, had purchased the dinner package (we never did get our champagne). But to make amends, the manager of the club emailed everyone a couple of weeks later who had paid for that special package apologizing for the poor service and offering us gold membership for a year that guaranteed free admission to Hom for a year. I thought that was a great gesture, because I think any business can overcome a bad night if they show customers how much they appreciate their business. Looks like I won't be able to enjoy that gold membership now, though.

Also, unfortunately, there were ongoing complaints I would hear from people about the service at Hom being rude, particularly the doormen. I never experienced that. I think people sometimes too easily get offended by doormen, but one thing I'll give Hom credit for is that they kept the club from attracting the wrong crowds like their predecessor Menage did. If you're projecting your business as an upscale establishment then you must continue to attract upscale clientele. But you must also balance that delicately. I think many people felt that Hom was trying to be a little too exclusionary.

But a lot of this still comes down to the effects of the economy. No industry is immune from it. I wrote a news article last month about Charlotte's abundance of upscale steakhouses and how they were addressing this recession. One steakhouse manager put it perfectly: “There’s no room for mediocrity anymore. Whether or not a restaurant is going to make it in a bad economy or good economy—a good economy only prolongs the inevitable, which is someone’s going to go out of business if they don’t do a good job."

Hom is/was one of the best-designed clubs in Charlotte. The guys that transformed it from Menage to Hom spared no expense. I can't see this place staying closed for too long. But whoever tries to run it is going to have an uphill battle. As I've said on this blog repeatedly, Charlotte has more nightlife options now than ever. Competition is good for the consumer, but not always for the owner.


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