PHILADELPHIA – The place, which is tucked into one side of the entrance of a parking garage on Second Street, is easy to walk by without noticing. It doesn’t welcome you. Either you belong there or keep walking.
The windows and single glass door have dark tinting. Black metal framework surround the windows and door.
Above the entrance is a rectangular white sign with black letters that says “RECESS.” Underneath is all you need to know about its exclusionary vibe: “Recess Lounge is a private Social Club. Entrance is at Social Club’s DISCRETION.” It’s one of the few establishments in the city with an after-hours liquor license, allowing it to remain open beyond the usual closing time of 2 a.m.
It was at 3:45 a.m. on Feb. 7, Super Bowl Sunday, that something went terribly wrong inside Recess.
A brawl, which erupted over a dispute over ownership of a bottle of champagne, sent two off-duty police officers to the hospital. Multiple accounts have the cops being punched and kicked while on the floor. And one of the combatants is alleged to have been Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher who still calls this town home.
No charges have been filed against McCoy or any of the three other men he was with who are said to have been part of the altercation.
A spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office said the incident was still being investigated as of Tuesday morning. “And I don’t know how long it will be until the investigation is concluded,” spokesman Cameron Kline told The Buffalo News.
McCoy has hired a high-powered defense attorney, Larry Krasner, who told The News Tuesday afternoon, “Last thing we heard, days ago, was ‘nothing before Wednesday.’”
Both the mayor and head of the local police union have weighed in with harsh words in the media for the player. However, officer Christine O’Brien, who handles public affairs/media relations for the Philadelphia Police Department, reiterated to The News Tuesday that the department has not released the names of any suspects in the case. She also mentioned that “people are saying there’s a video and is this so-and-so” and that trying to “identify people in a video is not always easy to do.”
In many ways, Recess seems out of place in this quaint part of town. Around the corner, on Chestnut Street, are all kinds of little restaurants and shops that appear to welcome customers with open arms. A short walk West on Chestnut takes you to three of the city’s biggest tourist attractions: the Benjamin Franklin Museum, Independence Hall, and, of course, the Liberty Bell.
Mark Eisele tends bar at Prime Stache Bistro, owned by Eagles tight end Brent Celek and located right around the corner from Recess. Eisele said he has managed nightclubs for 15 years. He said he wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear that something so ugly had taken place nearby.
“I can tell you, nothing good happens after midnight,” Eisele said.
Just then, he looked up to say goodbye to a kitchen worker, in his 20s, heading out the door. It was impossible to ignore the fact the young man was wearing a red, white and blue Bills stocking cap.
“Everybody’s kind of torn on this one,” Eisele said of McCoy’s possible involvement. “They love their sports, they know what he did for the Eagles. But this is a blue-collar town and there’s a lot of love for police and firemen.
“We’re all just kind of waiting for the facts to come out.”