An Interview with David Gutstadt, The Visionary Behind Fitler Club

Penn Appetit had the chance to interview David Gutstadt, the 20 year lifestyle veteran and visionary behind Philadelphia’s new lifestyle concept, the Fitler Club. Coming to Center City Philadelphia at the start of next year, The Club is a trendy hub for business, creative and social leaders alike, promising to offer world-class hospitality and wellness offerings all under one roof.

Featured Photo by M-RAD Architecture

Photo courtesy of Brownstein Group

  1. What was the inspiration for this club?

The concept for Fitler Club arose from my experience in the luxury hospitality industry. As a 20+ year veteran of the hospitality industry, I was very fortunate to travel extensively for work to advise and invest in a variety of hospitality and real estate concepts ranging from luxury and lifestyle hotels, membership clubs, fitness and coworking. What I was seeing over and over again was that none of these had evolved to meet all of the wants and needs of today’s urban lifestyle. Coupled with the demand in Philadelphia for a fresh take on this members-only concept, we set out to create the next generation of lifestyle club and wanted to deliver this experience to Philadelphia first.

  1. ​How did the founders get into hospitality?

I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, having started out as an advisor to many of the leading players and brands in the industry and ultimately transitioning to an owner, operator and developer of hospitality assets and lifestyle concepts. Fitler Club is the culmination of 20+ years of experience, allowing me to bring together all of my learning and experience to create the first-ever club of this type. Admiral Capital Group, founded by former Goldman Sachs executive Daniel Bassichis and NBA legend David Robinson, is one of the premier real estate and private equity funds with a focus on community engagement and philanthropy. With a strong track record investing in hotels, sports-related companies and most recently restaurant franchises, Admiral has a commitment to not only backing operating partners in the hospitality arena, but creating opportunities for motivated high school students to pursue careers in the hospitality industry. Michael Forman is one of Philadelphia’ most successful entrepreneurs with a track record of creating successful ventures and a commitment to supporting the Greater Philadelphia community through charitable works. The rest of the Club’s Operating team has vast experience as well. General Manager Jeff Benjamin and Executive Chef/Culinary Director Kevin Sbraga have been in the dining and hospitality industry for years and bring decades worth of experience to the table, so if there is any pair who know how to create an elevated experience for our guests, it’s Jeff and Kevin. Several of our investors come from various industry and career backgrounds, enabling us to bring a diverse collection of insights, knowledge and know-how to the table.

  1. Who areyour biggest inspirations (either in the industry or in life in general)?

My biggest inspirations stem from studying passionate entrepreneurs who have been able to create authentic and unique lifestyle experiences through hard work, innovation and unerring conviction. One standout from my perspective is a unique hospitality company called Firmdale Hotels. London-based Firmdale was founded by a husband and wife team (Tim and Kit Kemp) who have designed and built a unique and wonderful collection of world-class boutique hotels which not only reflects their personal design aesthetic but delivers on the promise of memorable experiences and great service.

  1. What is unique about Fitler Club?

What makes Fitler Club unique is that it’s truly all-encompassing. When you look at other lifestyle or social clubs, they really only focus on providing members with access to a handful of features, whether it’s health and wellness, dining, coworking spaces, etc. Fitler Club will include all of these offerings and then some: state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, luxurious hotel accommodations, multiple dining concepts, multiple event spaces, a high-end screening room, bowling lanes, and more. Aside from the concept being unique, it’s the first modern offering of its kind in Philadelphia.

  1. What food will Fitler Club offer?

Club members and guests can expect a well-curated menu of delicious dishes, sourced from the freshest high quality ingredients. We’re thrilled to have Kevin Sbraga join the team as Culinary Director and Executive Chef. We know that with him onboard, every restaurant and bar area throughout the Club will offer a unique, elevated dining experience. Each area will feature its own dynamic menu that will include items available to guests year-round, accompanied by seasonal, rotating dishes.

  1. What’s your favorite recipe?

As a dedicated endurance athlete, one of my other favorite activities is eating! Picking a favorite is difficult, but if pressed I would say it is my Grandmother’s challah French toast. Browned to just the right level, with a light coating of pure Canadian maple syrup!

  1. What’s the grander vision of Fitler club? Do you think there will be more like it in the world? 

My vision and hope is that Fitler Club becomes the hub for Philadelphia’s leaders, connectors and influences to come together – not just to socialize, work and play, but help move the city of Philadelphia forward by giving back to the community through a combination of philanthropy, mentorship and community engagement.

Following a successful launch here in Philadelphia, we envision creating a collection of clubs across the Country – each uniquely designed and programmed for the local communities which each club resides, but all equally committed to the goal of becoming part of the fabric of each city and giving back to the local community in a meaningful way.

  1. Anything else you would like our readers to know?

My goal is to deliver a truly world class project to the city of Philadelphia – with the best example of each component of the Club all in one place. I want us to have the first and best example of this new breed of lifestyle club, designed by and for the Philadelphia of today.

The Fitler Club is set to launch its grand opening at the beginning of 2019.