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Person of Interest




By Selena Fragassi

 


“If you looked at my résumé, you’d have no idea how I ended up here,” jokes Andrew Clouse, co-owner of The Loft at 600 F. Before opening the boutique event space in Washington, D.C. in 2013, Clouse had zero experience in the hospitality industry. Rather, the startup entrepreneur was co-managing a California tech firm called Terra Eclipse that was looking to expand to the East Coast.

Upon acquiring a historic building in D.C., across from the Verizon Center sporting arena, Clouse and his business partners gutted the three-floor property and wisely reserved one floor for function space for clients. “We never realized how in demand it would be,” he says. “Something told me there was an opportunity here.” Within 18 months, The Loft at 600 F had hosted 600 events, all with raving five-star reviews. “We created a snowball, but handling that much growth, with so many positive experiences, has been very rewarding.” Clouse shares his wisdom on doing business differently.

Unique Venues: Why did you decide to switch gears and focus on hosting events?
Andrew Clouse: “I have always had a natural inclination towards hospitality, and empathizing with a client or guest to create an experience just for them. As an entrepreneur, whether a tech or brick-and-mortar business, you always need to be thinking about the user experience to be successful. Looking back, I can see a huge amount of parallels in both worlds.”

UV: What do you do differently that benefits your guests?
AC: “I’m used to the Internet generation where people expect a fast response. The standards in tech are so incredibly high. So that’s one of the things we have emphasized from the beginning—making our operation responsive, concise, and efficient. Also we pride ourselves on being able to take ideas like tech and boil them down for the other person to understand. Planners are organizing massive amounts of logistics, so being able to speak their language is a huge step.”

UV: The Loft at 600 F must have some high-tech equipment, then.
AC: “We put the same equipment into the venue that we have been using. We’ll let clients use our iMacs for their video conferencing and even our Polycom phones when in a pinch. We also have very fast fiber Internet offered to everyone, all within one flat rate. It was a bit of a culture shock to realize that’s the exception.”

UV: Are there any other interesting features inside that set you apart?
AC: “One of the other owners has a hobby of renovating antique lamps, so a lot of his pieces are throughout the space. There are also hardwood floors, exposed brick, and a long window line looking out at the landmark museums. We’ve been taken aback by how astounded people are that the space has so much character and is so different than the windowless rooms you’d find elsewhere. There weren’t that many options like this in D.C., but that is changing.”

UV: What’s next for you?
AC: “There’s a huge amount of underutilized space still in the area, so we are partnering with different groups to leverage more opportunities to provide the community with unique functional options.”

Get Connected
The Loft at 600 F
Washington, D.C.
UniqueVenues.com/Loftat600F
(202) 431.8516
 
Talk to a Venue Specialist: 1-877-244-6110