Can an ex-Howard Johnson's soda jerk from Dallas convince several thousand Washingtonians to pay $300-a-year to join the K Street cardmembers' club called Elan?
Bob Allison, 28, arrived here several months ago with the task of making an $800,000 investment pay off for the Texas businessmen (including minority investor Rep. Charles Wilson) who bankrolled Elan. Washington's traditional uninterest in such clubs - Pisces, with its older crowd, may be the exception - doesn't daunt Allison.
"In Dallas there were two cardholders' clubs that failed before we opened Elan there," says Allison. "We think we'll attract the right people."
To Allison, the "right people" are upwardly mobile, fashionable men and women between the ages of 25 and 45. And as long as he's in charge, Allison says there will be none of the haughty behavior that has marked Studio 54 in New York. No doormen or bouncers will be present, and Allison, who dresses like a banker (but it's his wife who keeps the club's books), will be saying "Yes, sir" to both peers and elders. ("I can't help it," he says of his Southern, deferential manner.)
Allison was pleasantly surprised not to find a city of concrete and unfriendly people when he moved to Washington. "And the beaches," he says, "don't stink like Galveston's."