Disclaimer: We’ve received no compensation for writing this post. We simply want to highlight locally owned small businesses for their hard work supporting our neighborhoods.
We’ve been going to Lucky’s for a while now. Ever since we started doing our ‘church tours‘ about a dozen years ago. You see St. Casimir was on the list of churches we went to that first year. And as was our custom, we’d go out to breakfast after going to mass at whatever church we were going to that week. Because of its proximity to St. Casimir, we decided on Lucky’s Texas Red Hots.
Here’s why. Because we liked the look of it. And because Tim could get his favorite texas hots, and they have all day breakfast on the menu. I love breakfast foods at all different times of the day! But mostly, it was because we liked the look of it. You see, Tim and I love the simple, no BS restaurants. The Mom & Pops. The kind of place you can stop in, get some incredibly good food, even better service, and be on your way. Or if you choose, hang out and read the paper, or talk into the night if you feel like it.
Lucky’s has that look. And we were right, it’s exactly that kind of place. The kind of place that has a story. Been around forever. Run by the same people, usually family. This is Lucky’s.
Our First Time
We were comfortable the minute we walked in the door and the woman behind the counter said hello and told us to sit wherever we liked. She brought menus and coffee immediately, even though most of the booths were full and she appeared to be the only one serving. I also liked that she didn’t get put out when I asked for a cup of tea. Really, believe it or not, some people do. And sometimes, I’m made to feel like I’m asking for something really special. Any fellow tea drinkers out there hear what I’m sayin?!
The food was delicious! And I believe we both had big breakfasts that day. Bacon, eggs, home fries (mountains of them) with peppers & onions and toast for me. And a Greek breakfast for Tim. Everything was perfectly cooked! We would definitely go back. And have, many times.
Lucky’s is owned by Gus Bechakas. Gus was nice enough to sit down with us last Saturday to chat.
He came to Buffalo from Greece when he was 12 years old with his parents. He went to Buffalo schools, and told us his family has always been in the restaurant business. In 1966, he opened Lucky’s on Fillmore Avenue near Glenwood, in the building that is Mattie’s (sadly now closed). Gus moved into Kaisertown, here on Clinton Street 47, years ago. And with that, a neighborhood icon was born.
Gus runs the Greek/American Lucky’s Texas Hots with his wife, Theodora, and two sons, Leo and George. I’m told, by Tim, the Texas hots are fantastic! Texas hots are not a favorite of mine, but I can tell you the souvlaki here is heavenly. In fact, I’ve never had a bad meal here, or bad service. And we’ve made it a point to come back at least a couple of times a year. Theodora, Leo and George seem to be very friendly, kind people. And Gus? Well, Gus is the salt of the earth.
He spoke humbly about starting the business, keeping it going, their troubles during Covid lockdowns, and coming back afterwards. He mentions, somewhat emotionally, that Theodora is battling cancer. But he’s much more comfortable talking about the restaurant with someone like me, who he barely knows. I respect that.
The other diners all seemed to know each other, saying hello as they come in. This is a real neighborhood place.
While taking photos, I met Leonard, sitting at the counter enjoying his breakfast. Not too busy to talk though. Gus tells me Leondard was one of his first customers when he opened 47 years ago. I asked Leonard how he likes the food here, he said, something to the effect of, “Well, I come here everyday, and I’m 96 years old, so they must be doing something right!”
It’s obvious to me, too, that they are definitely doing something right.
In that brief conversation with Leonard and Gus, Gus turned the conversation to Leonard. He told me that Leonard is a World War II vet, was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, and was a prisoner of war for 12 months. I was instantly humbled. I thanked Leonard sincerely for his service to which he looked me right in the eye and barely nodded, before changing the subject back to Gus and Lucky’s. These two men are more than restauranteur and patron. These two are friends. I love it.
My Impressions of Lucky’s Texas Hots
You’re only going to get this kind of experience at a place like Lucky’s. Good food, good people. That’s really all it takes to make me love a restaurant. And it’s awesome when people like the Bechakas family make it look easy. And owning and running a restaurant is incredibly difficult. Especially at this point in history. This family makes you feel like you’re welcome. Like they’re happy you’ve come for a visit. And it’s sincere. They love what they’re doing, and it shows.
Gus – Tim & I will keep you and Theodora in our thoughts and prayers.
Visit the Bechakas family:
Lucky’s Texas Red Hots, 1903 Clinton Street, Kaisertown, Buffalo
*CASH ONLY* ATM on site.
p.s. Try Theodora’s rice pudding – I had some today (10/8) and it’s fantastic!
**Use the ‘contact’ button at the top of this page to email me your suggestions on your favorite Mom & Pops in and around Buffalo!
Terrific piece. True Buffalo, that’s for sure.
Yes it is! Thank you for reading!
Love reading your stories
Glad you’re enjoying the blog! Thank you for reading!
Love to read about my home town and discover new places to visit when I’m in town!
Awesome! Thank you for reading!
Great article, good luck on your new indevour. I’m sure it will take off quickly. Living in Southwest Florida for the last 17 years; it’s always nice to read about our hometown. Buffalo continues to be a great area. Don’t let the politics take over.
Thank you for the kind words and your support. Love the gulf coast of FLA – will be there in a couple weeks! Buffalo IS a great area! Politics? What politics, haha!
Love the article, Ellen!
Thanks Justine! Thanks for reading!
Ellen very nice article about Lucky’s. I had lunch there a few times when I had my business many years ago. From what I remember the food was very good. Nancy and I will definitely go there one of these days for a nice lunch. Like Tim I love Texas Hots. Thank you for bringing back some memories of good places to eat
Glad you enjoyed it, Jim! Glad to hear you’re willing to spring for lunch for your amazing wife! Haha! Thanks for reading!
Hey Ellen!! My friend from high school and I have been going out for Old Man Breakfast weekly since we both retired. Our rule is the smaller, more non-pretentious, the better!! If you have not visited, be sure to go to JJ’s House of Breakfast, on Kenmore Ave. at University. Jerry
Sounds like it’s right up our alley! I’ll put it on the list, Jerry! Thank you!
Loved your story. My only comment is that Leonard was not sitting at the bar. He was sitting at the counter. Have worked in the same Greek restaurant for 45 yrs. We no longer have a counter. Miss those days
In deference to your experience, I’ll amend. Glad you enjoyed the post; thank you for reading!
I like the new subject matter for your posts–food and people. The essence of Buffalo. Thanks Ellen.
Thanks for your continued support, Glenn! Appreciate it!
Have been going here since I was kid. These old neighborhood diners are something really special.
They really are, Christopher! Very integral to a neighborhood. Like churches, if they go, the neighborhood also goes…
I love the article and truly appreciate the Mom and Pop eateries!! Nice ?
Nothing better than the Mom & Pops! Appreciate you reading, Katie!
Never been there but have heard about it. Definitely on our list because of your article. Thanks. We prefer Mom and Pop places over the chains.
Love the Mom & Pops. If you go to Lucky’s, tell them we sent you! Thanks for reading.
I’ve lived across the street for nearly 30 years and go there quite often. There really is no place like Lucky’s. So glad you found it! (Don’t forget you can buy the Texas hot sauce to go as well)
Oh, that’s good to know, Mary! The kids are coming to Sunday dinner tomorrow…I know what we’re having! 😉