Clio: Inspiring Excellence
Toronto’s new private membership club brings society leaders together to engage, inspire and excel in all walks of life.
Whether it was a hideaway made from couch cushions or a tree fort with a No Girls Allowed sign (with a backward ‘S,’ of course), some form of “club” has been with us all our lives. Be it the tennis club, golf club, ski club, fitness, wine or book club, or even the Gentlemen’s Club from Victorian England, clubs have been places for people with similar interests to gather, exchange thoughts and ideas, and inspire one another. In some magical way, clubs become motivators by which to improve ourselves when we’re surrounded with like-minded individuals.
Such is the inspiration of excellence behind Clio, a new private members club located in downtown Toronto’s trendy King Street West neighbourhood, meticulously curated to foster meaningful connections and fuel new and innovative ideas and pursuits.
Clio is the coming together of four veterans of Toronto’s hospitality and entertainment industries — Charles Khabouth, Fernando Mammoliti, Danny Soberano and Domenic Oppedisano — who have known and respected one another’s accomplishments in their chosen fields for decades. According to Khabouth, a well-known “experience impresario” who founded INK Entertainment and built the ultra-luxurious Bisha Hotel and Residences, the idea for Clio grew organically out of everyday conversations.
“Fernando and I have been friends for 30 years, and I always thought Toronto was lacking in private clubs,” says Khabouth, in a recent interview with Dolce. “I had something specific in mind that Fernando enjoyed, and we both thought it was a good idea to move forward, and we made it happen. I wanted a lifestyle property that definitely revolves around the arts and music and fashion, and is more open to everybody’s interpretation of a great lifestyle and great experiences. For me, it’s not about who you are, but how you live your life, and, at Clio, we are about offering a great experience for people, an experience of being part of a group that enjoys the finer things in life, great service, attention to details, fine food and exclusive programming. The whole idea is to feel special by being a part of Clio, and that you belong to a group of people who enjoy similar things in life.”
The physical space of Clio is within the inspired architecture of a bygone garment factory, with exposed brick and ornate woodwork celebrating the days of thoughtful design and masterful craftsmanship. With the feeling of a leisure-oriented “atelier,” Clio contains a vibrant bar, restaurant, a contemporary art gallery featuring some pieces from Khabouth’s private collection, a cinema, a rooftop terrace, private lounges, and event and workspaces featuring state-of-the-art technology.
“We’ve created a very special atmosphere within a spectacular space,” says Mammoliti. “We have wonderful and incredible food, one of the nicest rooftop lounges in the city, and our event space on the second floor is perfect for a business event or small wedding. I wanted it to be a place where people just want to go and want to be members. The bar is great, and we have quiet spaces, as well. Clio can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and we can evolve to meet people’s needs.”
To enhance the private-membership experience, Clio offers an exciting calendar of events and programs throughout the year, including art tours, movie screenings, fashion shows, as well as workshops and panels designed to be thought-provoking and inspiring. Members also receive personalized bespoke concierge services providing exclusive opportunities and experiences, such as tickets to “sold-out” shows and events, premium seating and other VIP advantages.
“For Me, It’s Not About Who You Are, But How You Live Your Life, And, At Clio, We Are About Offering A Great Experience For People” — Charles Khabouth
In addition to these benefits, Clio members also receive access to a list of more than 30 international clubs around the world through Sonato Alliance, including CORE:NYC, The Britely in Hollywood, AllBright Mayfair Members’ Club and The Court in London and 1880 in Singapore.
Being a hub of inspiration where ideas are born and nurtured and a gathering spot for connection is more important now than ever. “We want our members to feel inspired and to feel connected,” says Oppedisano. “Because of what the last one and a half years has been like, connection to people and communities has never been more important, as well as a passion — that’s what I want people to feel in our space. It speaks for itself when you experience the food, the amenities … it’s all about the experience, and it’s hard not to be inspired in every sense of the word. Things seem to slow down here, people check their phones less and, instead, fully engage with the people they’re with, and that’s pretty critical these days.”
“We have an incredible offering of things that other places do not, including our art galleries and VIP services that we curate,” says Soberano. “We wanted to bring this dream to reality by offering something different and the next step beyond nightclubs and restaurants and events by bringing it all together and offering it to our following, and Toronto needed it in a big way. My favourite thing about the club is that it has different spaces that make you feel differently. The club evolves as you step from floor to floor, and I like that transition as it brings out different emotions in people.”
One of the focal points is the fourth-floor restaurant with its vibrant hues and velvet accents. It is under the expert culinary guidance of chef Michael Parubocki, who, like the international business and life experiences of Clio’s four partners, found his menu’s inspiration internationally, making his restaurant a go-to destination for urban tastemakers.
“The menu is a globally inspired approach, and we’re trying to make sure we touch each region,” says Parubocki. “We’ve got a really diverse group of cooks in the kitchen, and we’re always enjoying different flavours. Our members dine with us regularly, so we want to always be introducing new dishes. Our members can also enjoy some off-the-menu items, so we’re always experimenting with different flavours and having fun with our dishes.”
Clio is a new experience for Toronto, with possible expansion plans into the United States, and one that reflects the goals and aspirations of its creators in sharing and offering innovative lifestyles for its members. “The four partners all add value, and this will develop into other things and evolve into a lot more things that nobody expected,” says Soberano. “Charles and I always take a totally different approach, which is, ‘What is the city looking for before they know themselves?’ We try to bring spaces and events to the city. They may not know they want it, but they know it when we bring it, and that’s how you stay ahead of the game.”
Clio’s members are united by the strength of their differences and their shared passion for new ideas, innovation, excitement and excellence. Using just three words to describe Clio, Khabouth chooses “comfortable, sexy and friendly.” Then, he adds, “It’s a very happy place.” Couldn’t we all use a little “happy” these days?
Interview by Estelle Zentil