You can feel a buzz of energy radiating from Lucky Restaurant even before you enter the door. Located in downtown Roanoke, Lucky’s mixture of ambient lighting, intriguing artwork, and aura of mystery observed through the glass windows encapsulates a sense of both romanticism and edginess.
JP Powell, Co-owner of Lucky, opened his first of 2 dining spaces in 2010. Lucky has been an incredible success since it’s inception 8 years ago. JP dives deeper into why his restaurants have thrived, and what he believes are the contributors.
Bringing Big City Culture to a Quiet Town
JP and his business partner Hunter Johnson formed their friendship years before opening Lucky. They are both successful and passionate musicians that perform in major cities across the U.S. When they decided to relocate to Roanoke, they couldn’t help but bring with them the culture of the cities they spent time in.
“We were playing a lot in New York and D.C. We noticed this culture of elegant bars and little restaurants that served amazing food without the typical white linen tablecloths or employee uniforms. It was fine dining in a bar atmosphere. We noticed it was missing in Roanoke and decided to emulate that vibe here,” says JP.
Even though this concept was successful in larger cities, there was no guarantee that it would work in a smaller town. In 2010, finding funding was very difficult for any venture — especially for a new restaurant concept. JP credits some of the ability to get Lucky financially up and running to his banking decisions.
“Raising money for Lucky was difficult with the economy at the time,” says JP. “We started out with personal loans between friends and family. Moving to HomeTown Bank really helped us make the transition from family loans to more secure bank loans. It took a lot of pressure off of me.”
Making the Switch to A New Kind Of Local
After switching banks twice, JP became frustrated with banking options in the area. He was fortuitously approached by a loyal customer who happened to work for HomeTown Bank.
“Barbara Kern promised me a smooth and easy transition to HomeTown Bank. I trusted her and I’ve been happy ever since,” says JP.
Perks such as extended hours, online banking, and outstanding customer service contributed to his switch. He now feels a real loyalty to Hometown Bank.
Adding Their Piece to the Puzzle
The flood of 4- and 5-star reviews that Lucky frequently receives leaves no doubt about JP and Hunter’s dedication to standout quality and service. In fact, it’s the love of their craft that has led them to open two other nearby spaces, Fortunato and Stellina. On any given night you will see these spaces overflowing with smiling faces.
JP equates bringing the culture of fine dining bars to Roanoke as bringing his piece of the puzzle.
“We are one piece of about 100 that have been pushing in the same direction of making Roanoke a great place to live,” JP says. “All communities are realizing that a win for one of us is a win for all of us. Prosperity is connected. We’re not the only restaurant in town, it’s all of us together that create a destination spot.”
JP often refers to the amazing work done by local entrepreneurs and companies to bring people to Roanoke. He notices that there is an influx of new faces arriving in Roanoke. He feels this new crowd of people are also contributing to the success of his restaurants.
Even though fresh faces are helping business, he is thankful for Roanoke’s initial support and acceptance.
“We’re really proud to be in Roanoke. We’re thankful that everyone has supported us. So grateful for our employees who have helped us build and grown and learn. I’m also thankful that we were well received when we opened and that there was a customer base when we needed it,” JP says.
So what can we expect to see in the future from JP and Hunter? Only time will tell. They are both still heavily involved the music scene, as well as exploring opportunities as they arise.
“It’s all about knowing your area, seeing what it doesn’t have and seeing what translates,” JP says. “Hunter and I are constantly looking for new things to do. We are keeping our eyes and ears open for the next piece of the puzzle for Roanoke.”
Whatever the next mission is, we can expect it to be something new and unexpected – which is exactly what Roanoke needs.