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Play2 breaks new ground for Pete Ciarrocchi from Chickie's and Pete's

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So there I am, covering Preston and Steve's 2010 Totally Office Calendar  Release Party at Chickie's and Pete's  on Packer Avenue Friday night. I'm then approached by Chickie's manager Bob Morrison, who motions me to come to the back of the bar. Since he was standing next to an old storage room, I wasn't really sure what he wanted to show me back there. That's when Bob opened the doors to the old storage room, and there it Owner Pete Ciarrocchi graciously welcomes you to the opening of Play2.was: Play2  in all its glory, and I was getting a sneak peak.

My first impressions of Play2 were jaw dropping. Since I am a frequent visitor of this particular Chickie's and Pete's, I had no iota of a clue that this was even in the works. Owner Pete Ciarrocchi and his crew kept the project EXTREMELY tight-lipped for business reasons, and understandably so.

"This whole project took 18 to 19 months," explains Ciarrocchi. "I wanted to patent it because I didn't want to come up with an idea like this and have somebody steal it. So due to the nature of the patent, I had to keep it quiet. There were several obstacles to get over."

Once you'll take a look at the architecture, you will understand why. Play2 is truly the first of it's kind in the genre of the interactive sports bars for its variety of games, food and drinks, and overall aesthetically pleasing appearance.

There is an upstairs and downstairs game center featuring three game systems: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and XBOX 360. The staff was testing Beatles Rock Band  on the XBOX, and MLB 2K9 and UFC 2009 Undisputed were featured prominently on the PlayStation 3 systems. There are big sized screens where you can actually watch your performance of Rock Band. Ciarrocchi himself is not an avid game player. Believe it or not, the inspiration for Play2 came from his son.

"My six-year old son got a Wii two years ago for Christmas and he beat me," notes Ciarrocchi. "Once he beat me, I realized that this is something everybody can play. You can play numerous game systems here. You can eat, you can drink, and have a great time. It's just like my friend said to me the other day 'It's like going on your second date the first time you meet somebody.' "

There is almost an atmospheric vibe of a game show with the plethora of colorful boxed lights that are tastefully placed throughout the room. Play2 Interactive Sports BarCiarrocchi developed the idea from 'Hollywood Squares,' which he watched growing up. "When the Eagles play, every light you see in here will turn green. When the Flyers play, the whole place will turn orange, even the outside signs," he adds.

If you didn't want to play video games before you walked into Play2, you will once you walk in. Each section consists of leather couches and small tables in the form of a cubby hole which you can rent out. Booths are $30 for weeknights and $40 for weekends. If you're not in the game playing mood, not to worry. Play2 has plenty of seats at the bar as well as tables and several booths, where you can order some of Chickie's famous Crab Fries, or try some new items such as the Cheesesteak Tacos or the Onion Ring Tower.

"This place is amazing," says Lou Izzo of West Deptford, New Jersey. I've seen bars that hold tournaments for "Madden" every year when that game comes out, but here they have everything and then some. Nobody else is doing this around here. It's just awesome."

If many others share Izzo's sentiments about Play2, looks like Pete Ciarrocchi has another winner on his hands.

For more photos of Play2, check out Aileen Bannon's EXCLUSIVE Lens Gallery 

Play2- next door to Chickie's and Pete's on Packer Ave- 215-218-0500

www.chickiesandpetes.com/play2

Monday-Thursday: 4pm-2am (kitchen closes at 12am)

Saturday-Sunday: 11am-2am (kitchen closes at 1am)