You'll love Lucky Cat twice as much when High Noon — the second floor of the restaurant — opens at 2583 Broad.
"Our goal is to open on New Year's Eve and have an opening party," says chef/owner Zach Nicholson.
Each floor will be different. "Upstairs is more of a traditional bar/lounge feel than downstairs," he says. "The menu is going to be limited and focused more on creative small plates."
This will be a late-night place — a place people in the service industry can embrace when they get off work. "On Friday and Saturday nights, downstairs closes for service by 10 p.m.," Nicholson says. "Whereas the upstairs will open for service around 8. Downstairs will no longer take guests after 10 p.m., but the upstairs will continue serving until 1 or 2 in the morning."
Since he began the restaurant in December 2016, Lucky Cat has grown. Nicholson and his wife, Sara, began making and selling ramen dishes at Lucky Cat Ramen pop-ups around town, including at The Cove and Wiseacre Brewery, before moving into a temporary brick-and-mortar restaurant at 247 Cooper.
They moved into the present location — the former Jack Magoo's — last year. The Nicholsons knew they found the right home for their restaurant.
"We started our pop-ups on Broad, so it made a lot of sense for us to settle down on the street. We love the arts district and many people that own businesses here."
- Paul Gilliam
- Ace-high at High Noon
The Nicholsons love the outdoor area and large patio and would like to eventually set up gardens there to grow their own herbs and vegetables.
The building covers 5,600 square feet. "A building with that much space would give us the room to, over time, expand and explore other possibilities with the food," he says.
They dropped "Ramen" from their restaurant's name at the new location because they were serving more than ramen dishes. They wanted to feature a lot of what could be found in a Japanese izakaya, which essentially is a Japanese gastro pub.
"Downstairs our cuisine is heavily Japanese in spirit with a focus on ramen, rice bowls, and bao buns," Nicholson says. "We serve a nice craft cocktail menu with a lot of Southeast Asian flavors as well as a selection of Japanese whiskies, sake, and local beer."
Nicholson isn't ready to reveal High Noon's menu. "By no means are we going to be working with the Southeast Asian flavor palate we work with downstairs. It's going to be a surprise," he says. "It's totally different ideas. We'll work completely without restriction.
"We'll reveal more hints as we get closer to the opening," Nicholson adds. "We want people to come in without any expectations."
High Noon's construction and design aren't complete, but lighting fixtures, tables, chairs, and a 24-foot-long bar are in place — enough to seat 50 people, including 14 at the bar. Also ready for action is a vintage 1960s shuffleboard table Nicholson found on Craigslist.
"Some of the things I think are consistent with the downstairs are our use of wallpaper and dim, warm lighting," Nicholson says. "Beyond that, there are few similarities. Upstairs has this incredible exposed brick, and we didn't want to mess with that too much.
"We went with colors we felt connected to: different shades of greens, and gold and brass elements. There are some things that feel kind of Prohibition-era almost in design. Also, elements that pay homage to our love of two genres of filmmaking — the old Akira Kurosawa films and spaghetti westerns."
High Noon seems a perfect fit to feature bands and other music acts. "Our goal is to eventually have live music," Nicholson says. "The space itself has one end that is set up to be able to host bands. We're going to explore that and see what's going to draw people to the space. We have a lot of musicians that work for us in the company, and their influences are going to be seen."