At Lucky’s Last Chance, a vintage-inspired restaurant and bar in Manayunk, owner Chris Barnes and his team offer small-town service and some very unique food and drink options. I asked Chris a few questions and he did not disappoint.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business. How did you come to start Lucky’s Last Chance?
The one thing that I found missing in Philadelphia was really good, simple hotdog and hamburger joints. The places that you could go to had frozen burgers, it wasn’t good quality stuff. We’re all into drinking good beer, but the problem with that was that anytime you went to a place that had great beer, you had to eat all this fancy stuff. The only way to get good beer was to go to a place that had 12 different meats in everything they did but nothing was normal, everything was quail this and duck that. The other part of our concept was to take some of the aspects of fine dining and the attention to service and apply that to a really casual setting. The biggest reason for our success today has been how great our staff is and the fact that these guys are all into what we’re doing and excited about beer and excited about food. You can’t manufacture that, it really just comes down to finding great people and hoping they want to be a part of what it is you’re doing.
How do you or your staff decide what gets on the menu?
Everything we do is kind of a group effort, everyone here has input on it. Then what’ll inevitably happen is that we come up with something that we really dig, then we’ll run it by the customers and test it. Whether that’s on our late-night menu or just a pop-up on the weekend, we’ll try to get some feedback and we’ll tweak it again. Everything’s got this long cycle for whatever makes it on our menu, it’s all a process. Traditionally it starts with a couple ideas and I will say, 10% of the things that we come up with actually ever make our menu. It’s a ton of fun playing with that stuff, if you’re going to fail at anything that’s kind of a great spot to do it. Some of our best ideas have never made the menu. We worked on bacon rings for six months, they were like onion rings with bacon on the inside. We got to the point where they were pretty good but they didn’t stack up to the name “bacon rings.” We’ve had a bunch of other projects that have never seen the light of day but it’s stuff that we keep going back to.
Why did you choose Manayunk as the founding location?
Full disclosure, I’ve had this love affair with Manayunk for a very long time. I moved here right after college and I kind of fell in love. I just loved that it felt like a small neighborhood in a big city. Years later when Manayunk started to become the Manayunk that everyone knows today, I was still in and out of town on a regular basis but I still loved that you could be in the city without being in Center City. It just has this really very neighborhood feeling, I think everyone knows everyone. It’s a neat thing when you can walk into any of the shops on the street and the owner are in there; most of those people will know you and recognize you if you’ve been in more than a couple times. It’s a very interesting environment for city life.
More information can be found on his website, Luckyslastchance.com/