Vesper Philly: Cocktail Lounge, Supper Club, Fine Dining & More
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tony McReynolds, Bar Manager of Philly’s hippest supper club, Vesper. We chatted about everything that gives this full service restaurant, bar, lounge and music venue combination its distinct sense of style and class. As one of Vesper’s founding staff members, McReynolds was able to provide us with an all-encompassing view of the truly original atmosphere and experience that this establishment offers. We were nothing short of amazed by the intriguing elegance and well-planned design of Vesper, which left us with a lasting impression and a new favorite evening destination.
Vesper offers so much that it is difficult to properly label it. Born out of the collaborative efforts of experienced restaurateurs, Brendan Smith and John Barry of Smith’s Restaurant and Bar and Chuck Ercole of Misconduct Tavern, Vesper infuses the classic charm of a traditional supper club with the modern feel of a contemporary lounge with live music and boat loads of class thrown in the mix. Even Tony McReynolds confesses that the style and atmosphere of Vesper changes according to “the time of day and day of the week” and can appear as a laid-back dining establishment during the week and as a booming nightlife scene during the weekends. Though the style and functionality of Vesper has a wide range, the owners and staff work to be sure that one thing remains consistent, the guest experience. Tony McReynolds adamantly explains that they “always want to have a great customer interaction” and that they pride themselves on their “friendly and engaging” service.
The inspiration for Vesper came out of a strong desire for Brendan Smith and John Barry to expand their already thriving operation at Smith’s Bar and Restaurant. As they sought out their new location, the duo was torn between creating a catering-focused business, a cocktail lounge style establishment, a live music venue or a formal dining restaurant. When they came across their current Rittenhouse area location at 223 Sydenham Street, they realized that, as McReynolds states, “It checked all of the boxes of what we had considered doing, we decided, let’s give it all we can here and do right by the customer.”
Vesper’s location had previously operated as a supper club with roots dating back to the 1940’s. It had been vacant for several years before it came into the hands of Smith and Barry, requiring serious renovation efforts. Almost all of the fixtures in Vesper are completely brand new but the owners retained several key features such as the restaurants’ original bar and a beautiful 1950’s mural of the city. The result of all of this remodeling upgrade? A gorgeously designed interior overflowing with sophistication and beauty.
Vesper now operates as a full-service restaurant, bar and lounge with live music 7 nights a week and is available for catering and event planning. One of the most brilliant aspects of this multifaceted organization is that they ensure a high-degree of quality for all of their offerings. They feature a shareable, seasonal dining menu with a wide range of elaborate dishes, including everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to New York Strip Steak. Vesper’s bar is extremely impressive with a bold Whiskey collection, an elegant wine list, a menu featuring classic cocktails and talented bar tenders who are willing to design custom cocktails, suited to your tastes and preferences, on the spot. The musical performances rotate amongst 40 different artists and range from classic swing and jazz bands to musicians playing modern acoustic covers.
The Vesper owners have extensive catering experience and thoroughly enjoy showcasing their event planning skills while utilizing their wonderful and spacious private event spaces. Whether you are seeking to eat, drink, enjoy live music or host a private event, the Vesper staff will meet your needs with an unprecedented touch of class and an unparalleled focus on guest satisfaction.
Vesper’s focus on quality and the number of services that they offer is, strikingly, not the most impressive feature of this organization. The ingenuity of the owners and staff as well as their willingness to go beyond all expectations is what truly causes this institution to break the mold and shatter all notions of normality or mediocrity. Vesper’s inclusion of a hidden speakeasy is a shining example of their willingness to go to any lengths to delight their customers. Secluded behind an unassuming bookcase that doubles as a secret passageway, only unhinged when the proper password is delivered via a rotary telephone, this private space offers a quiet retreat where guests can escape the music filled and often lively main floor, to converse intimately over cocktails without distraction. The speakeasy bar at Vesper even restricts the use of cell phones and technology in order to maintain the old world charm and exclusive appeal of the venue. This addition to Vesper’s already amazing range of services stands as a testament to the organization’s inventiveness and willingness to go to all lengths for their guests.
Vesper is a phenomenal contribution to Philadelphia’s culinary and nightlife scene and, after interacting with their staff and experiencing the original and outstanding environment that they have created, it is clear that the driving force behind their constant innovation is the desire to thrill their guests. As Tony McReynolds states, “we love to see the customer reaction.”
Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)