After more than 30 years, Lucky Strike — one of the oldest members in the Keith McNally collection of French-American bistros, and a hip predecessor to more well-known hangouts like Balthazar and Pastis — has become the latest restaurant to permanently close amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The beloved Soho institution opened in 1989.
McNally confirmed the closure of the restaurant at 59 Grand Street, near West Broadway, citing the economics of running the restaurant as a reason for shuttering it:
Unfortunately, it’s true. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, I was unable to find a way to make Lucky Strike work financially. This decision was particularly difficult since many of Lucky Strike’s wonderful staff have worked for me for over 20 years, and some of the customers have been coming since the day we opened: 31 years ago.
In a 2016 interview, the restaurateur said that Lucky Strike didn’t make “any money,” a fact he said was also true of Cherche Midi and Schiller’s Liquor Bar. When asked why he kept them open, he said he did so because, “I like them and I like the staff...I am fond of all of them.”
Schiller’s closed in 2017, while Cherche ended its run a year later. Lucky Strike outlasted them both.
In a 1989 column, New York Times critic Bryan Miller described the venue using language that wouldn’t feel any less apt for a new McNally joint. “Lucky Strike has the congenially grungy feeling of an ancient haunt in Les Halles in Paris,” he wrote, pointing out a “derma of pallid yellow paint, a bonhomous bar, tightly arranged tabloid-sized tables, vinyl banquettes and overhead fans.” The menus, Miller wrote, were “scrawled on mirrors in the dining room.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made exceptions for takeout and delivery when he announced his statewide restaurant shutdown on March 16, but less than a week later, Lucky Strike announced it would end those services as well, “in the best interest and well-being of our staff,” according to the venue’s website.