by Brittany RotondoContributing Writer

Philadelphia’s Milkboy is a charming chameleon of the City’s backbone. The restaurant, café, bar and live music venue has had its fair share of attributes throughout the years, most notably in its humbled beginnings, founded by owners Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff.

“To us, that means that we could take a risk eventually and it could go as professionals, which we did. It became caught up in what we thought it would,” explains Joyner about he and Lokoff’s partnership.

What started as a local recording studio in North Philly has turned into more than a brand, more than a business, and is gradually scaling the summit that is the entertainment and hospitality industries of Philadelphia and beyond.

Grammy-nominated Milkboy Studios (Located adjacent to Franklin Music Hall, formerly Electric Factory) offers premier recording spaces that have captured the sounds of artists spanning from Kanye West to James Taylor, Erykah Badu, and Miley Cyrus.

Milkboy Recording offers four separate studios that specialize in customized mixing, monitoring and expertise.

After relocating its original setting to Ardmore, then subsequently on to Center City, Milkboy was officially born. Located at 11th and Chestnut, the two-floor building caters to resident foodies with a fully stacked food and beverage menu downstairs featuring the Hangover Burger and an endless list of draft IPAs. Live entertainment echoes upstairs, highlighting local and national touring musicians alike. See upcoming events here.

You keeping up?

The venue recently expanded onto the most infamous and interesting strip of Philadelphia: South Street (401 South St) The addition sees That Mag’s weekly open mic night amplifying with each passing week, cultivating to a greater audience.

The open mic, Homegrown Showcase, features local artists and musicians competing for the ultimate reward of a cash prize, a record contract with Milkboy Studios and a publishing contract with Pint Publishing.

“It feels really good for us to be doing an open mic and working in this way to connect with artists who are not famous yet, as well as people that are well known,” explains Joyner. “The music, the connections. That’s why it’s been successful because there’s a lot of heart in it. It comes from the studio and how we started the whole thing.”

The battle royale takes place every Monday with a winner announced, each week, each month and finally, an ‘End of the Year’ full set showcase brings the frontrunners to a finale face-off.

“We make our open mic a little more exciting by setting it up in a way where there’s a standout performer each week. It’s low pressure, but we’ve got folks who are bringing their ‘A’ game,” says Joyner. “We’re looking to break an artist out of our market and out of Philadelphia. The talent is all over the map.”

On the addition of Milkboy on South Street coming to fruition, “It’s very humble and the only normal bar on South Street! When I first moved to Philly, South Street was Philadelphia,” Joyner exclaims. “I lived at 4th and Monroe when all the venues kinda started to drift away. The opportunity came to take over the lease on that building and we were encouraged by some of the people in that neighborhood. It’s been very cool. It’s wild the stuff that we’re seeing. It’s fresh, it’s special. We’re excited!”

Milkboy’s trademark seeps into neighboring avenues and continues to grow with a brand-new venue in College Park, Maryland. The empire has fathered three locations, and now the expansion to another state entirely at Milkboy Arthouse. Say that five times fast. What sets this location apart from the rest, is the multitude of creative channels available within the setting itself.

“The reason it’s called Milkboy Arthouse is that it’s in conjunction with the University of Maryland, we’ve partnered with them on the space. We’ve done art, dance, theater, it’s more overall artistic than just a music venue,” Joyner describes.

Owners Joyner and Lokoff not only have dabbled into the local music scene, but they also have an agenda that includes sound design, audio production TV and film. Notably, the pair’s producer credits of Slow Learners, a romantic comedy the two conspired on, that has reached Sundance and the Tribeca Film Festival’s radar. Talk about a resume. Also in the works is another movie project, quietly under wraps. “We continue to push ourselves artistically,” Joyner states.

When asked if there’s more expansion in the future, without missing a beat, Joyner undoubtedly counters, “Definitely. We’re not done.”

Whether you want a Pharmacist cocktail, crabcake sliders, a kicking rock and roll show, a road trip or a simple cup of coffee, just follow the addresses in these lines. Milkboy is forging a certain class of cool and keeps on cementing their name’s in a special place of Philadelphia history.