New Downtown Lounge Requires Password to Enter
An inconspicuous phone booth sits in the alleyway at 13th and P, right behind Stogies Bar and Raising Cane’s. Step inside, pick up the phone, whisper a secret message, and you’re in. This is Lady Luck Lounge.
Inspired by prohibition-era speakeasies and underground casinos, the Lady Luck Lounge gives you a little taste of Vegas in downtown Lincoln. The lounge has been open to the public since late September.Owner of Misty’s Steakhouse, Chad Carlson had big plans for the back room behind Stogies when he bought the space. It had previously been occupied by Ink Alley screenprinting. In January 2019, Janell Folkerts came on as a marketing manager for Misty’s and Stogies. Before she knew it, she was working with Carlson to bring his vision for the Lady Luck Lounge to life as its operations, marketing, and human relations manager.
Transforming the former screenprinting shop into a glitzy, 50s-era casino lounge chock-full of Rat Pack nostalgia took some time. Folkerts and Carlson took inspiration from other speakeasy-style lounges they’d been to, but a lot of the decor is just things they liked and thought Lincoln might like, too.
With just a 30-seat capacity, guests are only allowed in if there’s room—and if they know the secret password. (Hint: it’s posted monthly on the Lady Luck Lounge Facebook page.)
According to Folkerts, advertising the new bar while still trying to keep up its “secret” allure is a bit of a catch-22. Relying heavily on word-of-mouth and social media, the Lady Luck Lounge has stayed away from more traditional forms of advertising in order to keep its clandestine style.
“A lot of what we’ve done to promote is really just walking around to local businesses and letting them know that we’re here,” Folkerts said. “And going to the hotels and getting to know the front desk staff and the valets, and letting them know when people are coming into town and looking for something fun to do, we’d love if they recommend our lounge.”
“We’re really excited that we have some regulars now,” Folkerts said. “It seems like every time we have one of our regulars come in, they bring someone new with them. Once people come in, they love it.”
Folkerts and her staff are focused on the entire experience of the lounge, from the time you enter the phone booth until you leave.
“I try to remind people we’re just a spinoff of a speakeasy,” Folkerts said. “A lot of times, when people hear ‘speakeasy,’ they think you have to be really quiet and that you can’t take any pictures, but we’re really kind of the opposite of that. I try to let people know that yes, you have to have the password to get in, and our location is kind of secret and hidden, but once you’re in, we’re more Vegas than we are speakeasy. We want you to have fun and we want you to take pictures.”
You won’t find any real gambling at the Lady Luck Lounge, either. Everything is just the feel and look of a casino. There is a slot machine, and every customer gets one pull before they leave. If they hit the jackpot, they win a free trip to Vegas.
“When people ask about the gambling, we’ll joke with them and say, ‘Why, are you a cop?’” said Folkerts.
Founded in 1967, the Downtown Lincoln Association provides services and champions initiatives for maintaining and enhancing our vibrant downtown. Our vision is to create an energetic downtown environment where we live, learn, work, invest and play. DLA has evolved into a multi-faceted organization supporting a wide range of programs and activities including maintenance, economic development and advocacy.