Boston may have its Cheers, but Waxahachie has its own place where everybody knows your name in Lucky’s Firehouse Pub, patrons say.
Set in the Knight’s Inn on Interstate 35E, the pub has only been open a few short months, but already it’s getting a crop of regulars and a reputation as a homey place to spend an evening of pool, karaoke, live music and friends.
“It’s kind of like a family reunion every time you come,” Rick “Doc” Shinpaugh said.
The “firehouse” in the pub’s name comes from owner Lucky Gee, a former volunteer fireman and his appreciation for the emergency workers in Waxahachie, from firemen to police to EMTs to nurses.
“The bar’s dedicated to the firefighters and the people who serve in our community,” he said. “I want a place where they can come in and relax and have a good time.”
Gee even held a benefit when the pub first opened its doors for a fireman buddy whose wife is terminally ill. He plans to hold another for the family in October.
“Lucky’s the first one to help somebody in need,” said friend and bartender Emily Tillery, who’s also a patient care tech at Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie. “He’s just a good person to have on your side.”
Gee said the location has been a number of different bars over the years, with varying reputations in the community. One of the best was The Shark Club, and many current customers and supporters, like Shinpaugh, frequented the old bar before it moved to Duncanville.
“Everybody talked good about the Shark Club,” Gee said. “That’s what I’m trying to bring back. We’re just a laid-back, family-friendly bar.”
Shinpaugh said he was pleased to see the space being used and gaining a good reputation again.
“(Lucky) made a good change when he came here,” he said.
Charly Cortez said she also used to frequent The Shark Club and she first visited the bar a few months ago out of curiosity and just kept coming back.
“We like the people that come — all our friends come here and Lucky,” she said. “It’s like a homey-type atmosphere.”
Gee first opened the business after going to bartending school but finding it difficult to be hired as a male bartender.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 10 years,” he said. “I thought it’d be easier to open a bar — I was wrong.”
One of the biggest challenges is watching out for the safety of his customers, he said, by making sure no one has too much to drink or gets into trouble. Gee also designates a staff member to drive patrons home if necessary in the interests of safety.
The atmosphere at the pub is one of good folks having a good time, patrons said.
Randy Cortez is new to the area and said after visiting the pub three times with relatives, everyone else is starting to feel like family too.
“I’ve never met a friendlier bunch of people,” he said. “Everybody laughs. … Everybody loves everybody.”
Waxahachie native Junior Perez, a first-time customer, said he was impressed with the feel of the bar. Several of his friends frequent the business and he said he’ll probably return.
“It’s diverse, there’s different types of people here,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition — they’ve got a run for their money, but they might make it.”
Gee said getting a new bar off the ground is hard work, but that the business’ crowd of regulars is growing.
“It’s been rough getting my name out there, getting the kick-off going,” he said.
One regular since the pub opened who goes simply by “Beaner” said the hard work is paying off.
“The business has been picking up quite a bit,” he said.
Tiller said karaoke on Thursdays and Fridays and live bands on Saturdays have been a big draw to the establishment, which features a range of music from country to blues to rock.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” she said. “I’d like to see a lot more customers and more bands. We want people to know we’re here.”
Shinpaugh, owner of Doc’s DJ and Karaoke, runs karaoke contests every Friday night and the top two singers from each Friday compete in a championship every four or five weeks for prizes up to $200.
“Everybody seems to like that around here,” he said.
Gee says that although starting the pub has been tough, he’s looking ahead to a bright and successful future.
“The bar has potential,” he said. “We’ve just got to get the word out.”
And when all is said and done, Tillery said, the people are what will draw patrons in and keep them coming back.
“I love it — I love the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s just a place where everybody can have fun.”
E-mail Kelsie at firstname.lastname@example.org