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New Social Club Offers An Escape

Published Thursday May 16, 2019

Author Judi Currie

Exterior of The Bungalow Club in Exeter. Courtesy photo.

Kathleen Mahoney officially opened The Bungalow Club in Exeter in February to provide a place to connect and escape  hectic schedules. The new member-based social and supper club offers programs that range from wine tastings and movies to guided meditation.

The main priority is to provide social connections, which is emphasized in the club’s tagline, “Conversation, community and conviviality.”

Mahoney says she was guided by the need by many to have a “third place” in their lives—a gathering place where they can escape home and work and connect with others. People spend most of their time at home and work, and while both have their rewards, they also come with projects, distractions, responsibilities and often a television, she says.

The restaurant is intended to provide an oasis from that for its members. The Bungalow Club serves dinner five nights each week, with table and bar seating as well as the “dinner party table” where members are encouraged to gather with whoever is already there and meet new people. Signature menu items include Indian curry with chicken, Verlasso salmon, the Bungalow burger, and butternut-squash-and-cheese ravioli.

The club's restaurant. Photo by Judi Currie.

In contrast to Exeter’s historic homes, the Bungalow Club is just that—a bungalow with a midcentury-modern feel. Mahoney says the décor is “a mix of California, Nantucket, Key West and Charleston vibes.” The outdoor spaces include a porch, covered seating, fire pits and activities such as bocce. Indoor activities include a pool table, darts and tabletop games, all of which are intended to encourage real connection. “I want to bring back the feeling of summer camp,” Mahoney says. “As adults we lose a lot of our sense of play and frivolity. I want this to be like a summer camp for grownups, only it’s year-round.”

Club members sitting around one of the fire pits. Courtesy photo.

The Bungalow Club has 80 members. Mahoney says the target is 170, with a maximum of 250. Memberships include an initiation fee that ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 and monthly dues of $100 to $300. The club’s rooms can be rented for events, including private parties, corporate meetings, off-site retreats, or even small daytime weekend weddings, but members receive first priority and preferred rates. The club also makes areas available as co-working spaces on weekdays.

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