Philadelphia, PA - Essie’s Restaurant & Lounge, Featuring Creole Cuisine and Live R&B and Jazz, is now Open in Clementon, New Jersey. In 2017, husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Mike and Chèrie Gillespie purchased a South Jersey building with the vision of opening an upscale restaurant and live music lounge.
Essie’s Restaurant & Lounge Featuring Creole Cuisine
Shortly after, a snowstorm caused the roof to completely cave in, delaying their plans. A global pandemic, a massive renovation, and two years later, the pair have finally opened Essie’s Restaurant & Lounge at 1 Garfield Avenue in Clementon, NJ, across from Clementon Park& Splash World in Camden County.
The restaurant’s name comes from Mike’s aunt, Essie, who raised him as a child. “She was everything to me,” he said. “This restaurant is an homage to her.” The Gillespies, who lives in Gloucester County, also own a barbershop and salon, as well as real estate investments and other ventures.
The bi-level restaurant, which features creole and southern cuisine, has 97 seats downstairs, 58 upstairs, and another 20 outside when outdoor dining launches in the fall. Essie’s will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., with dinner served until 10 p.m. and small plates available in the lounge and at the bar until midnight. Weekend brunch will launch later this summer. There’s a sizable stage in the dining room, with live music planned for Tuesdays and Saturdays and DJs playing nightly on both floors.
“We want this restaurant and lounge to have a cool vibe like the best jazz clubs in Philly and New York,” said Chèrie. “Some of our favorites have a house band, as well as special guests and bands throughout the week, and that’s exactly what we are going for. They also have a delicious menu and serve premium food and drinks, which we will do. We want Essie’s to become the hottest supper club in South Jersey, and we are confident that we have the right chef and team to make our dream a reality.”
The renovations include a complete building overhaul, with Tribble designing the space. The eggshell exterior is adorned with the black and green Essie logo. The interior features slate gray floor tiles, seafoam green glass wall tiles, a python leather padded wall, which also doubles as sound suppression, 3D wallpaper, and a brilliant white crystallite bar top on both the first floor and second-floor bars. The steps going upstairs are piano keys. The upstairs décor features a wall of gold records, a DJ booth, and a private dining room accommodating 12-15 guests. The downstairs bar features 10 seats and 10 beers on draught. In contrast, the upstairs bar/lounge contains four barstools, casual seating, and bottle service, which will be available nightly.