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April 16, 2019 – Did you know that Philadelphia boasts more colleges and universities than any other U.S. city? Take that Boston! And with that, every spring brings Graduation Season to the city’s top restaurants. That’s why Lindsey McClaren, expert party planner, shared some insider tips on how to organize the perfect celebration, from an intimate experience to a more-lively gathering. And just in time, Temple Grad is coming up fast May 9th, followed closely by Penn May 20th and then later – Drexel June 14th.

McClaren knows that graduation is so much more than just walking across a stage. As Sales & Event Manager at Center City’s bustling luxury steakhouse and seafood restaurant Ocean Prime, she has booked parties of all types, from celebrity-fueled affairs, to more conservatively priced dinners. In this blog post, she shares her vast insider knowledge to make sure that this kind of once-in-a-lifetime event gets the celebration it deserves.

Choosing the perfect location:
McClaren says it’s important to pick a space that contributes to the desired atmosphere. “Private dining rooms are a great way to make your party truly special,” she says. “Choose a locale that suits your taste and budget. Here at Ocean Prime, our Fairmount Room, Manayunk Room and Rittenhouse Room are all stunning, but accommodate different size parties and offer varying vibes. We find some guests prefer an intimate experience, while semi-private spaces, such as our Mezzanine or Cove add another layer of energy to the party for folks that want to be a part of the action.”

Choosing your style:
“Sit down meals are perfect for smaller groups with close family and friends while reception-style events offer a more laid back, party-type-feel and are an effective way to serve more people on a budget,” McClaren says. “Our Mezzanine, for instance, is a great space for a reception style party, boasting booths for seating and a private bar with TVs. But why not make the most of both options? Guests can start on the Mezzanine with a private bar and end in our Manayunk room – featuring an expansive window overlooking our dramatic main dining room – with a sit down experience.”

Food and drinks that make memories:
“With all the allergies and dietary restrictions out there, it’s important to pick a menu that caters not only to your personal tastes but also your guests,” she says. “For instance, here at Ocean Prime, we offer seafood, prime steak, sushi, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Make sure, whatever venue you choose, all your guests are accommodated.”

“The right beverage package takes your event to the next level. Pick a welcome cocktail that matches the school colors or, if possible, have a Sommelier curate wine pairings for each course.” McClaren’s favorite cocktail at Ocean Prime, for instance, is their popular Berries and Bubbles, “because it’s delicious, fun and super ‘grammable’.”

It’s all in the details:
“Graduation is so much more than getting a diploma, it represents years of hard word and is an accomplishment that’s worthy of an epic celebration,” the Event Manager says. “A slide show with pictures of the graduate is a great way to personalize the event. Additionally, you can add the school’s logo or incorporate the school’s colors to the menus. Last but not least, balloons and flowers create a fun party atmosphere.”


About Ocean Prime

Ocean Prime is a modern American restaurant and lounge located in Center City Philadelphia at the intersection of 15th and Sansom Street. Ocean Prime’s stunning settings and vibrant energy make it the perfect choice for socializing, talking business or partying while enjoying cocktails and dinner in a hospital atmosphere. The menu includes seafood, prime cuts of steaks, signature cocktails, a spectacular wine list and more. General opening hours are Monday through Saturday 4pm to 10pm and Sunday 4pm to 9pm. For more information please visit

-Tobias Fischer