Durham, N.C. — Chef and owner of downtown Durham’s Mateo bar de tapas (Spanish tapas restaurant) Matt Kelly created quite the buzz when he announced he would soon be opening not one, but TWO new restaurants in the same proximity. Both Mothers & Sons (an Italian trattoria) and Lucky’s Deli are slated to open this spring on West Main Street.
As Lucky’s gets ready to open, we asked general manager Drew Brown some questions about what to expect from this new venture.
BBC: When and how did the concept for Lucky’s come about?
LUCKY’S: Matt Kelly [of Mateo] reached out to me last May. As he was developing the concept for Mothers and Sons [a new Italian restaurant also opening this spring on W. Chapel Hill St.], he felt it would make sense to have a deli next door that could utilize some of the tools and equipment that were going to be used in their kitchen (such as the pasta extruder). Due to its proximity to Mother’s and Sons, the idea was initially for Lucky’s to primarily be an Italian deli, but we later expanded the concept to incorporate other deli traditions. We don’t want to limit ourselves and we also feel it’s important that Lucky’s stands on its own. We want to provide a place that will offer all kinds of great sandwiches and prepared salads.
BBC: What will be some of Lucky’s “signature” sandwiches/subs and sides?
LUCKY’S: Our menu is anchored by deli classics like an Italian cold cut sub (Italian meats and provolone with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and onions with oil and vinegar on a sesame seed bun) and pastrami (freshly made pastrami on rye with mustard). On paper they seem pretty straightforward because the goal is to provide something familiar and accessible. Behind the scenes, we’ll be doing everything we can to make these well-known sandwiches special. The same applies to sides and salads. Our salad case will have familiar items like potato salad, pasta salad and cole slaw. It will also be stocked with seasonal salads that will allow us to get a little more creative and to use more of the bounty of the regional farmers. Sweets will lean towards classic American treats like chocolate chip cookies, blondies and brownies. If we end up with room, we’ll have a self-serve freezer with Locopops and other frozen treats.
BBC: What style deli will Lucky’s be and what will the atmosphere be like?
LUCKY’S: We’ll be borrowing from both Italian and Jewish deli classics as well as offering familiar sandwich fillings like roast beef, roast turkey, chicken salad, tuna salad, etc. We’ll also have great soups including matzo ball. The atmosphere will be sunny and friendly. It should feel like a neighborhood market. It will function as a sandwich shop for many, but we’ll be providing catering, meats and cheeses by the pound and dinners to go as well. We’ll have some retail space, but I think this is an area that we’ll grow into. There will be roughly 45 seats but we’re expecting to do a lot of take-out. We will be selling meats and cheeses and prepared salads by the pound. We’ll sell soup by the pint and quart. We’ll have some grab and go items and we plan to have dinner items ready to go like pans of lasagna.
BBC: What will the price range be like?
LUCKY’S: Prices are still being determined, but the goal is to make it affordable. I think in reality, there will be a range. We will offer a hot dog for $3-4 but a Weaver St. rye bread piled high with pastrami will likely be over $10.
BBC: Will Lucky’s be open for both lunch and dinner?
LUCKY’S: The hours right now are slated for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lunch will be our main meal but we’ll cater to folks having an early dinner or picking up some things to take home. We will be offering beer and wine as well and expect that some customers will come in for a glass of wine and a charcuterie plate after work or before dinner somewhere else downtown.
BBC: From where will the meats be supplied?
LUCKY’S: Meats will be a mix of housemade and purchased. We will be making pastrami, corned beef, turkey and roast beef. Salami, mortadella, prosciutto, hot dogs and bologna will be purchased from local specialty purveyors and we’re still sorting out some sourcing. Likewise, we’ll surely be purchasing some meats from NC farmers, but we’re really not focusing too much on that claim as of right now until we sort out the details.
BBC: When do you anticipate opening Lucky’s and what are the big items left to cross off the list before then?
LUCKY’S: We hope to be open by early May. Construction and equipment installation is what we’re waiting on right now. We’re still in the process of staffing too.
Amber Watson is the creator of the Durham-based food blog and websiteBites of Bull City, which is the perfect outlet for her background as a writer and her passion as a local foodie. Bites of Bull City is a place where area residents and visitors can go to get insider food news and keep up with Durham’s exciting and ever-expanding food scene.