Story by Ashley Traylor, News Editor
Two former employees of Mr. J’s Grill and Pub will open a new restaurant, in hopes to provide the community and Murray State with a local hangout spot.
Kevin Aldridge and Chelsie Dreher are gearing up to open Lucky’s Grill and Pub, located in the same building Mr. J’s occupied, across from Wilson Hall.
“We want to be able to serve Murray and Murray State with something new,” Aldridge said.
The opportunity for a new business adventure
When Mr. J’s closed its doors before the semester began, the opportunity for Aldridge and Dreher to go into business together fell into their laps.
Aldridge and Dreher were in Florida when Dreher received a phone call about the future of her job at Mr. J’s.
“I got a call that was like ‘you lost your job,’ and I was like ‘this sucks,’” Dreher said.
On the way home, she said Aldridge mentioned purchasing the building.
“He was like we should buy it,” Dreher said. “I was like ‘dude you’re being crazy.’ He was like ‘no seriously we could do it. We could get it.’ So, a nine hour drive is a lot of time to think about things, and we decided to put a bid in on the building.”
Opening a business is not a new experience for Aldridge, as he is already a business owner and owns rental property. Although, he said he always wanted to own property closer to the university.
Dreher, an animal science major, said she thought she would take a job in Benton, Kentucky but took the business opportunity, instead.
“I think this is going to be a great business opportunity for the both of us,” Aldridge said.
The revised menu
Most of the favorite appetizers from Mr. J’s will be still be offered. Dreher said the bourbon sriracha wings, phillies and sidewinders are a few of the classics people can expect to see on the menu.
Though Aldridge said they are downsizing on the menu, they will offer a variety of food options.
“We’re going to have lighter options and a little more diversity to be able to cater to people that want to eat healthier meals, along with the others,” Aldridge said. “That way we can have that wide variety but still a pub name.”
Aldridge and Dreher made cosmetic changes to the interior of the building to update the space.
Aldridge said 80-100 year old barn wood and corrugated metal are a few of the accents they have added to the space, as well as giving the walls a fresh paint color.
Old photographs of the city and university will hang on the walls, because Aldridge said he wants to draw Murray and Murray State’s history into the restaurant.
Choosing Lucky’s Grill and Pub
Aldridge and Dreher agreed it wasn’t difficult to choose a name for the pub.
Aldridge said he wanted a name that “rolled off the tongue.”
“I was watching the movie and it said the number one important thing in a restaurant is its name,” Aldridge said. “Two is the food. The first thing you’re going to hear is the name, so you’re going to hear the name before you know what the food is like.”
Dreher said they had two names picked out, but when Aldridge mentioned Lucky’s, she knew that was it.
“I have had Lucky tattooed on my hip now for four years, so it was weird when he said it and we just went with it,” Dreher said.
Students respond to a new pub
Kyle Morris, senior from Covington, Kentucky, said he was disappointed when Mr. J’s closed, but he believes Lucky’s will be a successful pub.
“I think with the new owners being former employees they will have an understanding what the college students like and can expect,” Morris said.
Chase Davis, senior from Sikeston, Missouri, is also excited to see new business come to town.
“As the past semester went along, the bars would get less fun to go to because everyone was tired of going to the same places every weekend,” Davis said. “The opening of Lucky’s will attract a lot of people, giving them a new, fresh place to go.
He said he believes Lucky’s will bring back the excitement and atmosphere from when Mr. J’s was open.
Zach Mauschbaugh, senior from Edwardsville, Illinois, said he hopes the new owners will bring back one his favorite aspects of Mr. J’s: karaoke night on Thursdays, and he hopes they will bring in new ideas and specials to make it a successful pub.
“[Mr. J’s] always had a good happy hour for both food and drink, so hopefully they do something similar with that,” Mauschbaugh said. “It would be awesome if they had dollar beer night.”
Aldridge and Dreher said they hope to open within the next couple of weeks, but they have not announced an opening date.