BUCKTOWN — Ever since their first date at Club Lucky 20 years ago, one local couple has returned to the Bucktown restaurant every Feb. 12.
Now married, the couple dines at the same time each year — 7:30 p.m. — and sits in the same booth, No. 46. Club Lucky honors them by holding a standing reservation for them each year.
This year, the couple said “thank you” in a big way, shocking the staff with a $2,000 tip on a $137.33 dinner.
“Thank you for 20 years of good memories, excellent food and outstanding service,” they wrote on their bill. “Cheers to many more.”
Per the couple’s instructions, Club lucky split the tip evenly among staff working Friday night. The couple asked to remain anonymous, staffers said.
The customers’ generosity, coupled with the recent loosening of restrictions on indoor dining, has been uplifting for the entire restaurant, owner Jim Higgins said.
Independent eateries such as Club Lucky, 1824 W. Wabansia Ave., have struggled immensely during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Most people feel for the hospitality community and realize how challenging and difficult it’s been over … almost a year,” he said. “To have these guests come in really put a positive feeling in the air at the restaurant.”
Overall, Club Lucky customers have been very generous throughout the pandemic, Higgins said. Some have left up to 20 percent tips on carryout orders, he said, showing how compassionate customers are despite their own hardships.
“I think that says a lot for human nature,” he said. “I think it happens more often with neighborhood businesses, not only restaurants, where you get to know your guests. During these challenging times, there’s something a little more special about it.”
Higgins, a Humboldt Park native, took over Club Lucky in 1990. After 30 years in the neighborhood, Higgins said he’s “grown up” with many of his guests.
“I feel very fortunate and humbled to be included in so many wonderful people’s lives and the way they bring up their families. My little part of it is just keeping them fed,” he said.
“We have guests that met at Club Lucky, fell in love, got married, had their rehearsal dinners here, baptisms … and then their kids have grown up with the restaurant, and then kids come in as young adults. It’s really a warm, community-spirited type of atmosphere, you know?”
Club Lucky is open 3:45-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3:45-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 3:30-9 p.m. Sunday.
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