Lady Luck

Luck of the Draw

In Eat, March 2020 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Lady Luck opens with a mix of local talent and good fortune.

It’s not a restaurant. It’s not a bar. It’s not a nightclub.

“It’s the best of all of those things,” says Kevin Ruiz, a partner and chef at Lady Luck, the new spot at 222 Glenwood South—former home to Indio and Blue Mango—that’s set to open this month.

Gone are the lackluster orange-hued lights and dark walls of Indian restaurants past, replaced with vibrant teal booths, glowing neon signs and a jungle of greenery hanging from the ceiling. A pair of neon-crowned lions from Glas, a local design studio, greet guests at the entrance’s gold double doors; walking into the space, you just know you’re in for a good time.

Megan Corbally, Balu Torres and Kevin Ruiz | Photo by Andrew Albright, Mainland Creative
Megan Corbally, Balu Torres and Kevin Ruiz | Photo by Andrew Albright, Mainland Creative

That’s what Ruiz and his partners, Balu Torres and Megan Corbally, are aiming for. Inspired by the overall vibe of Miami, Torres asserts that, as well as being fun, Lady Luck has some of Raleigh’s top talent at the helm, including Ruiz as its head chef, Corbally (formerly of The Cortez) as its beverage director, general manager Cat Edman and creative director Hillman Ball (owner of Mainland Creative). The team members are all in their late 20s and early 30s. 

“We wanted the best of everything,” says Torres. “I’m very fond of these people and I have so much respect for them. They’re all young and have so much hustle and talent.”

Torres, who opened Viva Mexican Kitchen, Chido Taco and Medusa social club, first reached out to Ruiz and Corbally about the Lady Luck concept last summer. A core driver for the project, he says, was to showcase local talent rather than outsourcing to “celebrity” chefs. 

“In reality we have talent here, we just need to support them and show them off,” says Torres. “We’re going to show that locals, we can do that. And that young people in their late 20s can do that.” 

Ruiz has been cooking since he was young, starting in his family’s kitchen in Puerto Rico, then at a mom-and-pop pizza place in Cary. Since then, he’s worked as the sous chef at three restaurants in Raleigh, including Raleigh Raw, The Cortez and Wye Hill. Now, he’s excited to open up a place of his own, where he can bring his eclectic approach to food, seen in Spanish-inspired dishes prepared using Southern ingredients—to the forefront. Menu items will include tuna tataki, chorizo meatballs and pork belly empanadas. 

Along with the food and atmosphere, Corbally’s cocktails will take on a starring role. At The Cortez, her drinks were known for being brightly colored, creatively decorated, refreshing and delicious. “We’re going to put a spotlight on Megan,” says Torres. When the kitchen closes on weekends, guests will be encouraged to stick around for drinks and dancing; a DJ will bump popular tunes out of a converted pink Ford truck. 

The Lady Luck partners competed for the roomy, but historically ill-fated, Glenwood South space, which has sat vacant since 2016, against nine other interested parties. Rather than being wary of its past misadventures, the partners see their securing the spot as fortuitous, a sign that the project was meant to happen. 

Lady Luck’s signature ‘fingers crossed’ logo glows in pink neon behind the bar as a reminder to Torres, Ruiz and Corbally that, sometimes, you just get lucky. 

“I hope [Lady Luck] becomes a destination, not only for people to come grab food and drinks, but to socialize, create memories and enjoy the experience that we’re curating,” says Ruiz. “For Raleigh, by Raleigh.”

Editor’s note: The original version of this story stated that Balu Torres was involved in the opening of Totopos Street Food & Tequila, among other restaurants in Raleigh. Totopos co-owner and general manager Favian Miranda says, though Torres said he helped open Totopos, he actually had no involvement with the business. Torres sold his stake in Lady Luck following allegations of sexual misconduct in July, 2020.

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