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By Martel Sharpe, with The Atlanta Voice
The Gathering Spot (TGS) recently celebrated the grand opening of its Washington D.C. location on Saturday, June 26. It’s the first expansion of the private membership club and facility since opening its flagship location in Atlanta back in 2016.
In celebration of the milestone, the organization not only threw a black-tie gala but also decided to fly in some of its founding members from Atlanta to join the festivities as an exclusive full-service experience weekend, referred to as “The Connection.”
“We are so honored to be able to share this moment with you. I can’t tell you just how long we have been waiting to do this together,” Ryan Wison, TGS co-founder said. “We’ve had for the last five and a half years, an amazing experience in Atlanta building what is now the largest city club.”
“I say it as often as I can because we made it. Atlanta, for everyone out there, we appreciate you, we love, we would not be here without you. We started when we were 24-years-old, and the way that Atlanta decided to make The Gathering Spot a thing is something that we will forever be humbled by.”
The Gathering Spot D.C. is located at 1720 I St NW, in very close proximity to The White House. This location was secured in 2018.
“The Gathering Spot was born in Washington D.C. by co-founders Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, who met while they were at Georgetown University,” Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote in a letter to the cofounders. “But the first TGS is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Today it has grown as a hub for Black innovation, connections and experiences, and after its success, the co-founders decided to bring TGS back to where it all started. In the nation’s capital.”
The Gathering Spot’s Atlanta founding members departed from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport via a private Delta charter plane with an all-Black flight crew including the plane’s captain, first officer, and flight attendants.
“Black excellence was seated next to each other and dripped off the chartered plane and into the DC Gathering Spot. I am honored to be invited on this trip as a founding member of the Atlanta Gathering Spot. Ryan, TK, and staff are bringing the future closer,” Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens said.
As one of TGS’ partners, Delta also provided a reception before the flight boarded at its Delta Sky Club in Hartsfield-Jackson, while its other partner, Grey Goose, provided cocktails throughout the trip during the breakfast reception, the flight, and the grand opening party.
Though the grand opening party was just taking place, TGS D.C. opened in March 2021, with members a growing membership based in already partaking in its services. The party allowed Atlanta and D.C. members to mix and mingle while joining in the celebration of TGS’ expansion.
“The Connection was a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. To see the Atlanta and DC members together in celebration of the community expanding was a dream come true and a testament to the main work of the TGS team and our partners,” Petersen said.
Wilson and Petersen raised over $3 million to make their dream a reality, opening the first TGS in Atlanta near the city’s downtown area. And since its opening, TGS has been a hub for not only Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives, but also major moments in politics, culture, and technology.
“I’ve been a member of The Gathering Spot for a year. I joined in 2020,” Ray Hill, Director of Development at Morehouse College said. “When I joined The Gathering Spot, the first thing I did was connect with other creatives, in other circles, to be able to understand the premise of the mission of The Gathering Spot, and how we were bringing Black voices, entrepreneurs and innovators together.”
Wilson and Petersen announced the expansion to D.C. in 2018 during SWSX in Austin, TX, alongside hip-hop superstar and TGS member T.I.
They’ve also announced plans to further expand into Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Chicago, Detroit, and Charlotte. The Gathering Spot’s next location will open in Los Angeles.
“We have identified the Los Angeles location which is about to move forward with the construction side of things. The building’s been located, it’s already been leased. We’ve already got plans and a contractor,” Micahel Davis, an Atlanta-based commercial realtor said.
As the commercial realtor for TGS, Davis was instrumental in helping Wilson and Petersen locate property in all of the cities they plan to expand into. His first assignment was TGS D.C.
“All of the cities that Ryan and the team have announced we are actively underway in searching for real estate,” Davis continued. “They’re at different phases, so some of the cities are just further along where we’ve identified a building and we’re wrapping up a deal. Some of the other ones are a little bit earlier in the process, where we’re still trying to figure out which building we want to narrow in on.”