On a recent evening, bundled up residents strolling around the cobblestone streets of Fells Point popped their heads into the two-story building at 933 Fell Street asking, “Are you open yet?”
Clearly, the redecorated interior of the former Dead End Saloon space—now featuring an abundance of greenery, multicolored string lights, and 1950s-style signage visible from the large windows—has neighbors buzzing with anticipation.
After weeks of delays due to COVID-19 and the backlog in processing city permits, Lucky Buns chef/owner Alex McCoy has finally set a date for when he will no longer have to turn away hungry onlookers. The Fells Point location of McCoy’s Washington, D.C.-based burger chain—the first to open outside of The District—will open on January 17, 2022.
When first stepping into the dimly lit space, diners will notice interior touches including candles flickering on tables, vintage artwork, and even a rotating disco ball glimmering near the bar. It’s all meant to signal to diners that, here, the team—including lead chef Scott Han and bar manager William Jackson—wants you to have a good time.
“All of the design is done with a vibe in mind,” McCoy says, adding that the spot is meant to please foodies and dive bar aficionados alike. “Lucky Buns brings a funky, fun vibe. It’s never going to be stagnant in here.”
Though he’s a lifelong Washingtonian, who has honed his culinary skills all over the world, McCoy had to add a few odes to Charm City—like old-school Orioles memorabilia and his own neon Natty Boh sign—to the new space. He also pays homage to local traditions on the menu, which includes a rangoon-inspired take on a classic crab dip topped with homemade sambal sauce and served with fried wonton chips.
“When we were thinking about expansion, Baltimore, specifically Fells Point, was at the top of the list,” McCoy told us last summer. “Not just because it’s close, but because it’s a city and neighborhood that embodies the values we’re looking for. It’s a city that embodies its communities and has the type of people who we want to hang out with, cook with, and collaborate with.”
The Fells Point menu also includes seven new appetizer offerings (think jackfruit lumpia and “Mochicko” spicy fried chicken nugs coated in D.C.’s iconic mumbo sauce) and the debut of a patty melt. Of course, local diners will also be able to try the towering burgers and chicken sandwiches that have consistently earned Lucky Buns praise from the likes of Washingtonian magazine, Eater, and Thrillist.
The options range from the classic Royale Bun (double Creekstone Farms beef patties, shredded lettuce, red onion, and American cheese) to the Bogan Bun topped with bacon, gouda, arugula, and a jam inspired by Hong Kong’s umami-flavored XO seafood sauce.
As the biggest location to date (boasting 150 seats,) Lucky Buns will feature an impressive cocktail program highlighting housemade sodas and syrups by Jackson. On the opening cocktail list is, of course, the bar’s famed Negroni made with homemade Campari, gin, and plum wine. Jackson will also serve up the “Bmore to Bangkok,” fusing Sagamore Spirit Rye, Mekhong Thai whiskey, mezcal, and homemade orgeat.
And, if that’s not enough to sell you, the bar features a year-round rotating frozen cocktail program. (Look out for a Dirty Banana made with oat milk and olive oil during opening weekend.)
Eventually, the second floor—which houses a chef’s garden to grow ingredients for the dishes and cocktails—will also feature a reservation-only rum and cocktail bar. But, for now, McCoy is looking forward to introducing Lucky Buns to Baltimore with the first-floor service.
“I want to provide a place for people to talk and meet, eat and drink, and have conversation,” he says. “Witnessing the passion after a bite or a sip is the best part of this job. In what other profession can I create something in real time and see the reaction on people’s faces?”