Tough Luck sounds like it will keep in line with the other bars rolled out thus far by the team—John Naekel, Chip Addabbo, and (full disclosure) former Mercury music editor Ezra Caraeff. It will be a neighborhood-oriented spot with emphasis on whiskey, craft beer, and food. The latter in this case comes from chef Lauren Miller, who worked in Imperial's kitchen and has assembled a menu of dishes that blend American Southern and Korean cuisines (think: fried chicken with rice, avocado, banchan, and tom kha hot sauce, or a burger with kimchi ketchup and soy pickles).
The boozy end of things come from bar manager/co-owner Andrew Finkelman with a whole menu of Old Fashioneds, 10 house-made shrubs, and customized whiskey/beer pairings. There'll be 10 rotating beer taps as well. Finkelman's family has roots in the neighborhood (his mother was born a few blocks away)
Tough Luck will also feature a fire pit outside, and what sounds like the coolest shuffleboard table in town. The restored 1940s table comes with a 16-foot-long electric light-up scoreboard custom made for the bar by Bird Dog Creative, so the entire bar should be able to see how badly you're losing.
As they continue to do last-minute construction to prep for opening day, the Tough Luck team hopes their doors will mid-May ("god willing"); perhaps the bar is aptly named as the work to transform a quickie-mart into a neighborhood bar has taken more than a year.
Tough Luck's press release appears after the jump and contains more information about the new spot. Woodlawn neighbors have just found their newest watering hole—at 1771 NE Dekum.
Tough Luck is the third bar from the ownership group of Ezra Caraeff, John Naekel, and Chip Addabbo—the team behind The Old Gold, the long-running North Portland bar with a well-received whiskey problem, and Paydirt, the dedicated drinking establishment in the Zipper Building on NE 28th and Sandy Blvd.
True to its name and well over a year in the making, Tough Luck strives to be nothing more than the best neighborhood establishment it can be. And with good reason.
Situated in the Woodlawn neighborhood and housed in a mid-century building (formerly the 18th St. Market), Tough Luck was slowly rebuilt while maintaining the integrity of the ’60s-era structure. But long before shovel hit dirt, Tough Luck’s local lineage was already established: Co-owner and bar manager Andrew Finkelman is the grandson of Portland natives, and his home sits on the very tree-lined block where his mother was born, a few blocks away from where Tough Luck sits today.
With that established foundation, Tough Luck aims to provide Woodlawn with a bastion of booze and creative food. Long before chef Lauren Miller cut her teeth in the kitchen of Imperial alongside Doug Adams and Vitaly Paley, she learned under the tutelage of a far more demanding chef: her grandmother. Raised in a small Kentucky town, Miller’s grandmother passed along a treasure trove of deep-rooted Southern recipes, all of which used a chipped teacup for a measuring spoon. Miller’s modern influences pull from the Far East, which gives Tough Luck’s menu a unique balance of food from both Korea and Kentucky. Diners can look forward to dishes like Korean Fried Chicken (with rice, avocado, banchan, and tom kha sauce), Smokey BBQ Lamb (with gochugaru hot sauce, pickled mustard greens, and cornbread pot biscuit), and a house burger (with crispy double patty, pimento, kimchi ketchup, shaved iceberg, soy pickles, and Pearl Bakery bun).
The roots of Tough Luck’s bar program run just as deep. Finkelman stirred his first Old Fashioned in 1973. He was nine years old. Cocktails at Tough Luck will be playful and informal, including mix-and-match whiskey/beer pairings, a dedicated menu of Old Fashioneds, a line of house-made shrubs, and ten constantly rotating beers on draft. In addition, a wrap-around exterior patio with fire pit will keep the neighborhood cozy at night, and a restored 1940s 22-foot shuffleboard table, complete with a custom-made electric 16-foot scoreboard, will keep indoor patrons entertained.
And that is Tough Luck.
Lord willing, we’ll be open mid-May. Please come by and say hello. We’re happy to be where we belong.
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
― Cormac McCarthy