Michael Gyure, the Friars Club Leadership, Rebuild for a Younger, Brighter Future

Juda Engelmayer
Nov 5, 2019 · 3 min read

When the historic Friars Club of New York City hired Michael Gyure as executive director, the iconic institution was, for lack of a better term, tired. The average age of members was increasing, and the celebrity status of members who used to fill the chairs of its historic Frank Sinatra room for roasts was waning. But under Gyure’s guidance, the club looks to implement the new and exciting changes necessary to embrace the next generation of young professionals, celebrities, and entertainers. With proud members including Jimmy Fallon and Jonah Hill, others are following suit and the club will reclaim its iconic roast this upcoming Summer 2020 with some of the biggest names in entertainment to be announced.

Friars Club Director of Programs Bob Spiotto Inducts Mark “Jiggy” Jigarjian
Friars Club Director of Programs Bob Spiotto Inducts Mark “Jiggy” Jigarjian
Friars Club Director of Programs Bob Spiotto Inducts Mark “Jiggy” Jigarjian

The club started drawing A-list Hollywood celebs, parties that used to wrap up by 8 pm began raging through the night, and the revitalized networking opportunities were drawing scores of new applicants. After decades of insignificance, the Friars Club began to reclaim its historic reputation as one of the world’s most high-profile social clubs.

Gyure, who was born in New York and raised in England, has taken an aggressive approach to modernizing the club and attempting to attract a younger audience, and through numerous events and promotions his efforts have widely been viewed as successful. Gyure has put an emphasis on promoting and featuring fresh young comedians, changing out the menus to incorporate new food items, lowering membership fees for younger applicants and encouraging events that are tailored to a millennial audience. Prominent younger members include Mark “Jiggy Jigarjian, Turner Sparks, Regina DeCicco, and one of the newest female board members, Michelle Slonim.

The results have been significant.

Turner Sparks Records his Comedy Album Live at The Friars Club
Turner Sparks Records his Comedy Album Live at The Friars Club
Turner Sparks Records his Comedy Album Live at The Friars Club

Not only has membership seen a stark increase from young entertainers, but the resulting injection of youth has also drawn more senior A-listers back through the doors of the club they stopped frequenting long ago.

Actress Sarah Fearon Performs One Woman Show Live at The Friars Club
Actress Sarah Fearon Performs One Woman Show Live at The Friars Club
Actress Sarah Fearon Performs One Woman Show Live at The Friars Club

Gyure has also focused his efforts on distancing the club from the “old boys club” reputation it had built decades ago. While the club’s membership is still a male majority, the numbers are shifting, due to new female board members and female-dominated events, such as the upcoming Luncheon featuring Award-Winning author Candace Bushnell and her latest book release, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” Up to 45% of current members are female, many prominent entertainers or Hollywood A-listers. For a club that denied women membership until 1988, the increase has been stark.

A Hollywood Reporter article that detailed the club’s first female member, famed lawyer Gloria Allred wrote:

Gloria Allred Outside of The Friars Club in 1988 after she was the first woman to ever have lunch at the club
Gloria Allred Outside of The Friars Club in 1988 after she was the first woman to ever have lunch at the club
Gloria Allred Outside of The Friars Club in 1988 after she was the first woman to ever have lunch at the club

It has been nearly two years since Allred, 75, last visited the club, “but every time I have been there they have been cordial and friendly,” she says. She still remembers the time Freddie Roman apologized to her for her rude reception. “He said: ‘You were right, we were wrong. Sorry about the names we called you from the window. And thanks for making us do it, because we’re a better club as a result.’

It is this mentality that motivates Gyure to continue to press on with new initiatives every day for The Friars Club of New York City. Pushing for more female applicants, tailoring events to draw a female crowd and ensuring that the club’s environment is one that is appealing and comfortable to women of all ages.

Big changes are coming to the Friars Club, and under the leadership of Michael Gyure the once-historic social club seems to be on track to reclaiming the famed status it held years ago.

Juda Engelmayer

Written by

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner in HeraldPR and Emerald Digital, he has focused on corporate and crisis communications, public relations and advocacy

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