Welcome to Secret Philly, an occasional series in which Billy Penn visits hidden or exclusive places in Philadelphia and write about them.
The Pyramid Club doesn’t quite have the same historic resonance to it as Philadelphia’s other major social clubs, the Union League and the Racquet Club. It’s been in Philadelphia since 1993. The other two have been around since the 19th century.
But the Pyramid Club has at least one thing Philadelphia’s other prominent social clubs lack: a 52nd-story view of the city seen through 20-feet-tall windows.
About 1,000 people, including nearly 350 people under age 40, have membership to the Pyramid Club. Others get to see it through events. Pyramid Club regularly hosts weddings, high school proms and more.
Billy Penn explored the Pyramid Club and its seven meeting rooms with the club’s general manager, Rick Winland, to show you its views, well-stocked bar, boardrooms and ballrooms and if you’re into this kind of thing, how to get in.
The Pyramid Club is located at the top of the BNY Mellon Center. To get there, you first take the elevator to the 51st floor, where the Ballard Spahr law firm is located. From there, a winding staircase leads to the Pyramid Club.
The first part you’ll see is the main lounge. It features three tables, three couches, several chairs and a TV screen that on this day is tuned into CNN.
Members use the Pyramid Club for all kinds of different reasons. It’s a social club where people meet each other on evenings or escape from the office for a while during the workday, as well as a place for business. Lawyers and salespeople often host clients. A handful of members without brick and mortar offices actually use the Pyramid Club as their work place (it has free WiFi throughout).
The lounge connects to the bar. It is stocked with about every alcohol imaginable, from low-priced vodkas to premium tequila. Pyramid Club currently has a bottle of Patron Platinum that it sells for $45 a shot. But it’s mainly there as a leftover from a previous event. Vodka, bourbon and regional craft beers have been the most popular drinks for members in recent months. It also offers Pyramid Punch, which is Maker’s Mark, Captain Morgan amoretto, lemon juice, cranberry juice and Sprite. In the fall, winter and spring especially, members flock to the club’s happy hours, which usually happen two or three times a week. If the bar doesn’t carry something a member requests, the club will usually order it and have it ready for the next time.
The Pyramid Club hosts several other events for members, too, ranging from Ted Talks, to “Meet the Author” events, to member meetings, such as its young professionals group, stock market roundtable and sports group.
Next to the lounge, there are other rooms mostly used for meetings: the Washington, William Penn, Library and Rittenhouse rooms.
Starting next year, Pyramid Club is undergoing a $2-million-plus renovation that will connect the lounge area with those rooms. The bar area will also be expanded. Winland says club brass are still finalizing the plans, but the finished product should feature an industrial design the club hopes will attract more millennials. Membership fees at the Pyramid Club fluctuate, with young people paying as low as $60 per month, according to club management.
The hallway between the main lounge area and features paintings and pictures of other private clubs associated with Club Corp., the Dallas-based, publicly-traded company that owns Pyramid Club.
Walk down it, and you’ll reach the Franklin Room. This room is where parties get held, whether they are proms, wedding receptions or smaller affairs like wine or champagne tastings.
The Fairmount Room is on the opposite side of the club and is the dining room.
Members can eat breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the Fairmount Room at the other end of the club. Popular items include pan-seared scallops, lobster ceviche and kobe strip. Most dishes range in price from $15 to $25.
Without the historical touches of the Union League or Racquet Club, the Pyramid Club’s selling point is service and being more inclusive. It requires prospective members to get sponsored but will introduce them to current members if they don’t know anyone.
And the views. They are something the Pyramid Club has that few others do.