Wisconsin is a lovely state. We eat cheese and we drink. We drink more than most states, and I ain’t talking about water. Beer is such a huge part of the Wisconsinite lifestyle that if you’re a bar and you don’t cater to the nuances of an experienced ale-and-lager palette, you’re limiting your clientele. Luckily for Madison denizens, Lucky’s 1313 on Regent is all about bringing that frothy brew to those thirsty, thirsty masses.
“We have eight lines dedicated to unique brews,” says Angela Genin, the oversight manager for Lucky’s 1313. “Our newest one is called Orange is the New Blonde.” One of the in-house beers currently in rotation, That Blonde, is Angela’s personal favorite, describing it as a “drinkable beer that isn’t too high octane.” If I hadn’t done this interview in the morning, I probably would have tried it.
However, I hesitate to delve any more into their beer offerings, seeing as the current selection will not be the same today as when you view this article in the fall. “Right now we are going through so much beer that our internal and guest tap lines are changing each week,” Angela says. That’s a lot of beer, and with most of their selection being seasonal, you won’t get to try their Wisconcentrator Doppelbock during the hotter months, and those Blondes mentioned may not be out when the days grow shorter. Needless to say, their brewmaster, Keith Symonds, is a busy guy year-round.
From their Lil Lucky pub burger to the “kick-ass” brewhouse chicken sandwiches, Lucky’s 1313’s classic pub fare is anything but basic as far as flavor goes. They care so much about keeping their menu fresh that they’re overhauling the whole thing in June. The biggest changes are coming to their pizzas, which are being both more specialized and more generalized. “They were very creative,” Angela says of the old-style pizzas, “but with so many seats here, we want to be ready for the average person.” Not everybody likes Hawaiian, and I’m one of them!
People don’t just go to sports bars for the refreshments though. Whether you’re a Badger fan, Packer backer, or Brewer viewer, Angela and crew got you covered, and they rather enjoy game days. Angela says that at the bar they “just really try and create that atmosphere of, like, we’re all there. We try and capture that electric feeling.” While nothing can quite match the thrill of attending a live sporting event, the energy and comradery that can bloom at a perfectly equipped pub is certainly a worthwhile experience all its own.
Angela says you can almost tell the restaurant apart section by section on game days. Since they have the NFL Sunday Ticket, patrons can watch any and every football game. “We kind of have different spots set up all over the bar,” Angela says. “You’ll see blue over here, purple over here, green over there—it’s almost like it’s color coded!”
To get in on the live sports action themselves, last summer, Lucky’s 1313 installed a top-of-the-line volleyball court in their back patio, and have started successfully running summer and fall leagues. It keeps Angela extraordinarily busy. “It’s been a hit,” she says. “It’s super fun since students come back, and it’s something for them to do outside of Badger game weekends. And it’s also a nice way to socialize before fall hits too hard.” As they are surrounded by student housing and just off a major bike path, it makes sense as to why volleyball is an ace here.
Heck, everything here is amazing. It took a lot of work, especially considering the history of the building. Lucky’s 1313 is proud of their location’s heritage. Originally a garage in the 1920s, the space was converted into a bus repair hub for the Badger Bus lines up until the 1970s, when it became an international automobile dealership. Then, in 2015, Rod Ripley, managing owner of Lucky’s 1313, entered the picture and changed the game.
“Rod worked very hard for this space and this idea,” Angela says. “This is his dream, really, and we’re proud of it.” She goes on to describe the unique attributes of the building, like the skylights, the big doors, and the open area the design of the building brings. It’s just something you don’t see everywhere else. “On sunny days, the doors are open, the air is fresh, it’s just fun. Some of our parties in the summer have really enjoyed opening the doors and having a great time.”
Everyone involved with the Lucky’s 1313 organization knows that they are, indeed, very lucky, so they never pass an opportunity to give back. “We try and team up with local charities,” Angela says. They’re doing Pups on the Patio in September and are planning on hosting a for-charity brewing event. “Anybody that really wants to know how to brew, we can do a brewing experience and give those funds to charity,” Angela says, smiling brightly. Giving back extra on top of their great service and outstanding food, Angela, Rod, and the entire crew really are dedicated to making Madisonians happy.
Lucky’s 1313 is anything but your standard downtown bar. Their enchanting, rustic interior; exquisite food and craft beer selection; and commitment to the Madtown sports community provide the city, residents, and visitors something more than a hangout. It’s more like another room in the house, the difference is it’s always filled with old and new friends ready to have a good time.
Josh Heath is a freelance entertainment writer living in Madison. He’s interviewed famous stand-up comedians, podcasters, and producers. He also auditioned for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but was less successful in that endeavor. Read his extensive portfolio at Muckrack.com/Josh_Heath or follow him on Twitter @JoshAndHisJokes .