Where 711 North 13th Street • Hours 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday • More info314-222-2111; denstl.com • Who Memberships start at $200 a year; drop in for $10; children welcome if accompanied by an adult Dr. Sonny Saggar, the physician behind the STLHealthWorks facilities that include Downtown Urgent Care, grew increasingly intrigued by medical studies linking friendships to better health. “A good social circle, compared with quitting smoking or starting to exercise or eating healthy, hands-down beats all of them as far as improving longevity, preventing cancer and stuff like that,” Saggar says. As he pondered ways he could help improve community health, he thought about his three kids. Together, they enjoy backyard archery, pool, pingpong and air hockey. “You know, this is bonding,” Saggar says. “Why don’t I create something that I do with my kids and have it be like the basement?” For a business name, he didn’t like the sound of “The Basement,” so he opted for “The Den.” He opened the club in January in a 16,000-square-foot space downtown. The Den markets itself as a gathering space and social club, where members can pay a nominal fee to hang out. The Den hosts events such as trivia nights, and there are board games, bocce, a golf simulator, a pool table, shuffleboard and more. There’s also a lounge area with couches and TVs, and projection capabilities throughout. “It’s not like we’re nonelectronic,” general manager Laura Malley says. “But we are encouraging more engagement rather than arcade games — that sort of thing.” Members can bring in their own food and drink, but the plan is to open a cafe soon. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the Den hosted an open house so downtown residents could check out the new space. “I think it’s got a lot of possibilities,” says Chris Fitzgarald, 29, who visited with his girlfriend, Vanessa Redensek, 27. “It’s things like this that will help keep families downtown.” While Redensek’s own downtown loft building has a rooftop patio, they say they often jockey for space with other groups. They see the Den as a fun, after-work hangout spot with a neighborhood feel. “It’s someplace you can go where it doesn’t feel like Ballpark Village,” Fitzgerald says.
"You don't want boozing, or pounding music until 3 a.m.," he says. But a club — a members' only space offering indoor activities? That seems to make some sense.
The 'Discussion Open House' brainstorming-session focus group that we held on Wednesday 24th August 2016, was tremendous. 42 people attended, walked around the entire 16,300 sq ft space with floor plans, made notes, asked many great questions, ate great food from Pi Pizzeria, offered many solutions to perceived challenges and gave us so many new ideas on what other community activities we could do. We were pleasantly overwhelmed with the amount of interest from people who both live and work Downtown. If you show up to these pre-opening meetings, you will be part of a select 'Founder Members' group, which will get you some perks in the future.
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