There's a familiar name — and two new ones — on the owners' suite at Lucky's 13 Pub.
Charlie Burrows, who co-founded the seven-unit chain in 2007 and sold it 2019, has repurchased the company with his Eclectic Culinary Concepts partners, Stephan Hesse and Tyge Nelson.
"We've got our work cut out for us," said Hesse. "I don't know if we're the craziest people on the planet, or the smartest. We'll find out."
Working with business partner Linda Young, Burrows opened the first Lucky's 13 in Mendota in 2007. Burrows and Young created (and later sold) Axels and the now-defunct Bonfire mini-chain. Young died in 2018.
"I love the Lucky's concept and brand," Burrows said in a statement. "When you've built something from the ground up, it's like your child. The staff are like family. So, when the opportunity arose to work with these restaurants once again, we were immediately interested."
Burrows, Hesse and Nelson first joined forces in 2016 to launch Pajarito in St. Paul. Last year, they expanded their contemporary Mexican restaurant and bar to Edina's 50th-and-France district, taking over the space that was once the longtime home to Tejas.
Nelson's and Hesse's résumés are peppered with notable Twin Cities dining names. Before opening the well-regarded Pajarito ("little bird" in Spanish), Nelson cooked at the former La Belle Vie, Solera and Chino Latino, and Hesse was in the kitchen at Masu Sushi & Robata and the former Libertine.
There's another nice homecoming connection between Lucky's and Eclectic Culinary Concepts: Hesse's wife, Megan Hesse, has been a Lucky's 13 bartender for more than a decade.
The Twin Cities metro area is home to five Lucky's 13 locations (Bloomington, Burnsville, Mendota, Plymouth and Roseville) and two are in North Dakota (Bismarck and Fargo). The gastropub fare ranges from burgers to salads to pan-fried walleye to sandwiches stacked with meats roasted over oak- and cherry-burning grills, along with popular weekend breakfasts.
"Our goal is to upgrade the food here and there," Hesse said. "Right now the menu is a little large, and restaurants of this style are slimming down and emphasizing quality over quantity. We'll liven it up a bit. But we're not going to change the concept, because it already does so well."
The two shuttered locations won't stay dark for long. Eclectic Culinary Concepts is transforming the former Rudy's into Clover (14845 S. Robert Trail, Rosemount), with a targeted opening date of early March.
"The main focus is going to be on house-smoked roast beef sandwiches," said Hesse. "We'll do regional versions — Chicago beef, Philly cheese, something in the torta realm — and we'll do different specials every night, from prime rib to Friday fish fry. We'll also develop a very approachable cocktail menu."
The former Tru Blu (915 E. 19th Av., West Fargo) will also reopen, although its new name and concept will be announced at a later date.
"It may be a play on Pajarito," said Hesse. "We haven't figured that out yet. We're working on Lucky's and Clover first. We're super-excited."