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Recess Lounge Reenergizes Philadelphia Nightlife in Old City


"Recess is a privilege and and I will not abuse it."

These words adorn the walls of Philadelphia's newly opened Recess Lounge. The venue, billed as "Philadelphia's most exclusive playground," according to their web site, takes the place of Lounge 125. However, don't expect to see any trace of the old club- it's completely renovated.  The Recess Loungeclub is open Thursday through Saturday, and has recently received permission to operate after-hours. 

The September 17th opening of Recess was a catered event for friends and family, courtesy of Swanky Bubbles. At Recess you will listen to the top DJ’s in the area playing today’s hottest music. DJ Chris Bachman fulfilled the opening night's DJ duties, infusing hits from Leona Lewis, Chic, and Donna Summer with classic hip hop beats. The next night's VIP opening featured DJ John G and Kanye West's DJ, DJ Aktive. All guests were treated to a premium open bar.

From above, Recess Lounge reminds you of a modern day Shangri-la. As you overlook the restaurant, via a staircase leading down to the main area, you're offered a unique preview of what is in store if you do decide to join the party.

As strange as it sounds, be sure to take a look at what WILL be the coolest menu of any establishment you've ever attended as you reserve a couch in the VIP area. The official grand opening capped off a three night extravaganza, fulfilling a lifelong dream for Marc Mattera, who owns Recess Lounge along with partners T.J. Gersh and Ryan Dorsey.  "Recess Lounge" Owners T.J. Gersh, Marc Mattera, and Ryan Dorsey.

"I was in my 20's when I first got started in the night club business," says Mattera. "I always seemed to know where all of the local hot spots were, and I always had friends in the business, particularly Ryan. He came to me about a year ago with an idea for a night club.

The two of us talked about what we could do to make Philadelphia nightlife unique. As things progressed, he introduced me to T.J. (Gersh). Between the three of us, we created an ideal place where who’s who can enjoy themselves, and where everyone is treated as a VIP."

For Dorsey, his experience in the nightclub/restaurant business goes all the way back to his childhood.

"I have been in involved in the bar business since I was a little kid," Dorsey says. "My father owned a bar in the 80’ and 90’s with my grandfather. I started out as a barback at the age of 19. I then moved into the roll of a promoter/bartender and invested in my first bar at the age of 25. I eventually sold that and became a manager at ZEE BAR. I was privileged to learn from great people such as Cecil Grey, John Frankowski and Jennifer Shamy. I would like to say those are the people who have directly helped me get to where I am today."

As with any business, there are obstacles to overcome in the beginning. And according to Mattera and Dorsey, Recess Lounge was no exception.

"The last few months have been extremely hectic but very fun," Dorsey explains. "My partners and I have bonded beyond belief on this project and we already can tell each others strengths as well as weaknesses."

"The weeks leading up to the opening have been crazy for all of us," Mattera adds. "We were trying to make sure everything would work out to our expectations. We had a few minor glitches, but it all worked out in the end. We each took on separate rolls to help one another complete our dream. From contractors and PR Reps, to bartenders and our host who will greet you at the front door, we created a great team of people behind us. Our goal is to create the most exclusive lounge in Philadelphia, and we want to be the new trend setters for Philadelphia. Whether you're dancing on the couches to popping bottles, when you come to Recess, you will have a great time."

Like Mattera and Gersh, Dorsey is aware of the expectations that are set for Recess Lounge. Insiders are hoping that Recess will ultimately breathe new life into a Philadelphia nightlife scene believed to have been in decline for the last several years. By being realistic yet optimistic, he thinks it can be done.

Recess Lounge"I am excited to say that there is a lot of buzz, speculation, and doubt for this project. We feel that this is a great project. Our goal is to keep Recess as exclusive as possible. They say things aren't for everyone well neither is this. We are not looking to recreate the wheel as well as we don't think that we are gonna be the ones to turn Old City around. We just want to create a vibe that this city is lacking. We designed Recess to feel like a playground.

From conversing with friends as well as dancing on the furniture, we want you to forget about all that's going on outside of our doors and enjoy the playground we have created for you inside our doors."

And judging by the outcome of its first three nights, it seems that Recess Lounge is a privilege indeed.

For Aileen Bannon's complete photo gallery of Recess Lounge, click HERE

Recess Lounge

125 S 2nd St. 

Philadelphia, PA 19106 

(215) 351-9026