25th Anniversary Short Story Contest:
"Date Night" Winners | "Celebrations" Winners | "It's the Little Things that Count" Winners | Our 25th Anniversary
If walls could talk, the ones at Lucky’s would have some fantastic tales to tell. Since they can’t, we asked our guests to share what they might say about one of their experiences at Lucky’s. We're blown away (and humbled) by the amazing response from our friends and neighbors. We thank everyone for submitting their wonderful stories! Here are our winners in the Celebrations category: First-Prize Winner: Molly and Neal Harris Runners-up: Tiffany Miles, and Denise Boster-Owen
Celebrations Category: First-Prize Winner
Molly and Neal Harris
Home is Where Lucky 32 Is
When you live in one place your whole life, moving to a new city is daunting. You worry about where you’ll celebrate milestones, both large and small. You worry about ever replicating that feeling of “Home” again. But when you find a place that feels familiar—and you will—it will hold a special place in your heart. That is how I feel about Lucky 32.
After spending the first 23 years of my life living in an Ohio steel town known for it’s food, it’s blue collar work ethic, and its commitment to community, I took a leap of faith and agreed to move to Greensboro, North Carolina with my boyfriend.
It was an adjustment, to say the least. I missed that sense of belonging. I missed the food of my youth; the food that always tasted better because you knew it was cooked with soul and tradition. Then one day, we got lost on our way to another restaurant, and happened upon Lucky 32. It was the best wrong turn I ever made.
The atmosphere felt like home, and I finally experienced that authentic “Southern Hospitality” everyone speaks about; but the highlight of the evening was the food. It was simple, but elegant, and it satisfied more than just this homesick girl’s appetite.
From then on, every milestone, large and small, was celebrated at Lucky 32. It became our date night ritual. If we were not at Lucky, we were eating brunch at Print Works Bistro, daydreaming about how amazing it would be to get married at the Proximity. Little did I know those dreams would one day become a reality.
It was April 2012, and I was in the midst of law school final exams, when my boyfriend suggested I take a break for dinner. We headed to Lucky 32, of course, because there is no stress that Johnny Cakes cannot cure.
We sat out on the Veranda that beautiful Spring evening. As the music played softly, and the birds sang, Lucky 32 went from the place we celebrated date nights, to the place my now husband asked me to marry him.
As the other guests began to leave, we danced on the near empty Veranda to celebrate. A little more than a year later, we shared our first dance as husband and wife in the Weaver Room of the Proximity Hotel. (See their first dance at their Proximity Hotel wedding!)
Between then and now, many more celebrations have been spent at Lucky 32. From my wedding shower to birthdays, Lucky's has seen them all. When we moved to the Research Triangle last year, the first restaurant we visited was the Cary Lucky 32 location; it reminded us of home. This past May, our family and friends joined us there to celebrate my graduation from law school.
I will always miss my Ohio home, but if life has taught me anything, it is that home is the place where your heart goes when it is happy. As I think back on the last few years of my life, some of the happiest of moments were spent at Lucky 32’s tables, surrounded by the people I love. I know that many future memories will be made there as well — because when you find a place that feels like home, that is where you go to celebrate with family.
Celebrations Category: Runner-up
Life is the Best Celebration
As a native of Greensboro, like most, I have been no stranger to Lucky 32’s succulent collard greens and heart-warming grits. However, what’s amazing to me is how deeply this restaurant’s amazing food and neighborhood hospitality has penetrated into so many facets of my life.
Our journey together began nearly ten years ago, when I made reservations at Lucky 32 for myself and five of my best girlfriends for our high school senior prom. Even after a decade has passed, when I recall this special event it brings a smile to my face. From the moment our group stepped though the double doors, we were given the royal treatment…in all honesty, we probably looked like princess dolls in our prom dresses from back then, and I’m sure they had way too much glitter to be considered elegant! The servers were extremely attentive, never leaving a beverage glass less than half full. Even though it’s been years since this entrée was on the menu, I still recall what I had for dinner that night. Back then, the low-carb craze had taken the nation by force, and since dinner was our first stop of the evening I decided to order something light…partially because I knew the rest of the night was heading downhill, with tables full of cheesecake slices, éclairs, and chocolate fountains. My meal consisted of a juicy hamburger patty atop a slice of red onion, smothered in melted pimento cheese, with tender long-stem green beans on the side. The funny thing is, since that time, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this meal at home. It was always one of my favorites, so I’m still doing my part to keep it alive for my family and friends. After finishing our wonderful meal, we were able to step right outside to take pictures on the lush, green patio.
The entire evening is one that I will remember forever. Each of us ladies have since graduated from college, and some have gotten married and started families of their own. I came across a picture of us last week outside on the sidewalk of Lucky 32, and was reminded that even though most of us weren’t able to keep in touch over the years, a picture and a memory binds us together. In the midst of that picture and memory is Lucky 32 standing silently in the background.
In the years since high school, I have frequented Lucky 32 with friends and family. We have celebrated many birthdays, anniversaries, and even graduations there. I have made many of the Lucky 32 recipes at home, all of which are crowd pleasers. Each year around the holidays I receive requests to make collard greens the “Lucky 32 way”, and each time I receive a complement the word is spread about this amazing restaurant. This restaurant has become an integral part of my history, my family’s holiday traditions, and simply our “go-to” place for brunch on any given Sunday. So, here’s to you Lucky 32…thank you for becoming part of my life’s story, and I have confidence that you will continue to be a staple of the Greensboro culture long after I am gone.
Celebrations Category: Runner-up
I love horses and Lucky 32 restaurant. A few times, I’ve shown up to the Cary eatery around noon in my dusty jeans and boots, sweaty and happy from having worked with the horses at the barn that morning. At those times, I am particularly grateful for the clean bathroom with the cool granite top sinks that offer up soft, absorbent paper towels for the taking. As I use those to refresh my grimy face, I once again admire the glamorous black-and-white framed photos in the restroom. Look at me, I think: in a mere 30 minutes, I’ve gone from smelly horse stalls to an art gallery in a nice restaurant! Then I sit down to a nourishing lunch of black bean cakes, which I inhale. After all the years that they’ve been on the menu, and despite all the other tasty seasonal offerings, I still find them hard to resist! This occasional weekday excursion--a joyful coupling of horses and hash--is perhaps the most common way I celebrate at Lucky 32.
My husband and I started going to the restaurant in Cary when they initially opened. At first it was a choice of convenience; we can walk there from our house if we wish. Quickly, though, it became a choice based on flavor, since the seasonal menus complement the reliable favorites, like those delicious black bean cakes. And after a few visits, I came to appreciate the variety of eating areas – inside, outside, bar, booth, round table, square table – that can match any mood. The unique light fixtures and lighting further enhance the setting. Clearly, the restaurant is working voodoo with more than just its sauces!
In addition to the ambiance, the extensive wine list allows me to choose a bubbly Prosecco when I’m giggly with girlfriends, a wily Albarino when it’s summertime on the deck, or an elegant Pinot Noir when I’m in the restaurant talking business. One night at the bar, I celebrated the smoldering Paso Robles meritage that helped me squelch the fire of an argument. It was late, I was in a foul mood, the staff was inconspicuous yet attentive, and kept those six ounce glasses coming! I’m sure they tactfully brought it down to the three ounce size over time so I didn’t embarrass myself. That the Carolina Hurricanes were winning the hockey game playing on the bar’s big screen HDTV also buoyed my spirits!
My husband and I have had several memorable experiences with friends at Lucky 32 as well. I recall one summer night a couple of years ago, after my husband and his friend played their usual Tuesday night racquetball, their wives joined them for dinner on the porch. As I walked to the door, I did what I usually do: brushed my hand over the rosemary bushes (love that herbal smell!) and inspected what produce was for sale at the farm stand. Then I made my way to the outdoor seating, and found everyone perusing the menu. “You know what I like,” my friend Beth said, “Their green beans. They’re always cooked right. Crisp and all.” “I couldn’t agree more,” I said as I sat down.
The guys ordered Blue Moon beers with tiny orange slices and manly food (like the locally sourced beef burger or the Crescent chicken sandwich, maybe?) to quench their competitive fires, and we ladies ordered some chardonnay and a light entrée (with green beans, of course). Then we four old friends settled in for some conversation. We left the restaurant about 90 minutes and a million laughs later. As we were leaving, another patron, who was ordering his entrée at that point and no doubt riffing on a movie line, said to his waiter, “I want what they had!” Sometimes something as simple as a cool summer night with friends is cause for a celebration.
Earlier this year, we reconnected with a couple with whom we had lost touch. We met them initially at the Great Grapes Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheater. It was a celebration of wines grown in North Carolina, and we had an enjoyable time learning about all the vintners and grapes. But when it came time to learn what had happened during the ten-year hiatus in our friendship, we knew just what we had to do... go to Lucky 32 for dinner. The staff found us a quiet place to talk and eat. And we left full of food and promises to stay in touch!
I’ve also been to three of Lucky's cooking classes to see what he’s cooking up. My friends and I have confessed our concerns for our health and our children over lunch. I’ve solved problems with business colleagues after work over a drink. My husband, whose office is also close to the restaurant, has interviewed job candidates and blown off steam with colleagues in the restaurant. And let’s just say that there have been enough Wednesday night skillet fried chicken dinners to guilt my husband and me into early Thursday morning gym visits! Lucky 32 has surely been our go-to restaurant for all occasions over the years, and the staff always greets us warmly.
I liken going to Lucky 32 to visiting your grandma: she welcomes you with open arms no matter how happy, sad, dirty, serious or tired you are. She feeds your belly and your soul, and then sends you on your way feeling better than when you arrived. Now if I could just get the owners of Lucky 32 to install a hitching post…