New cafe, lounge offers good food and spirits, with family-friendly flair till 9 p.m.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Gary Sumner anticipates opening the Luck E 13 Cafe and Lounge, Friday, Feb. 15 in downtown Gresham.

Unlike a lot of folks, Gary Sumner has always considered 13 a lucky number.

But for the opening of his new business in downtown Gresham, it proved to be somewhat unlucky.

“We were going to open on Feb. 13, but it will probably be the 15th now,” Sumner said. “Thirteen has always been my favorite number — my son just turned 13, the name of the business is Luck E 13, and we had planned to open on the 13th. Who would have thought it wouldn’t work out?”

Sumner laughed, as last-minute glitches delayed the grand opening of his café and lounge. But he’s anxious to acquaint folks with his twist to what is traditionally considered the local bar scene.

Tucked away just a stone’s throw from Powell Boulevard, the Luck E 13 Café and Lounge is a shell of its former self. The 1,200-square-foot space at 55 N.E. Roberts Ave. was once a store catering to collectors of blown glass smoking accessories. It now resembles a rustic urban café, with black wrought-iron bistro tables and a picket fence. Sumner undertook a six-month remodel to bring life to the Luck E 13.

“We tore out everything, including three layers of ceiling,” he said. “Everything in here is new — the floor, kitchen, appliances. It was a smoke shop before, so it was even painted a lot of crazy colors.”

Sumner is a former Gresham resident and admitted “family man.” His wife, Wendi, is co-owner of the Luck E 13 and teaches school near their home in Vancouver, Wash. Sumner spent several years with Maletis Beverage Distribution in Portland, always harboring a desire to run his own business, and finally took the plunge after leaving his job last year. Though Gresham’s fee holiday program appealed to the entrepreneur, it was Sumner’s fond memories of the city that brought him to the downtown core.

“(The Garage to Storefront Program) was a help, but not the deciding factor,” he said. “We didn’t want to be in downtown Portland, and since I used to live here, I already liked Gresham’s small-town feel, and it’s place for families. That’s why the Luck E 13 will be family-friendly until 9 p.m.”

Sumner said he recognizes the plight families face when trying to spend time together on a tight budget. He foresees “slower nights” during the week at the café becoming movie nights for families, and he plans to offer “Park Specials,” boxed grab-and-go meals, for picnics during the summer.

Sumner is further embedding himself in the neighborhood by taking on the space next door to the Luck E 13. He and his former Maletis co-worker, Don Nguyen, plan to open a beer and wine shop in the coming months. The venture was once a pipe dream shared by the two, who are capitalizing on their years in the beverage industry to create Cheap Charlie’s. The cavernous space will offer retail sales of more than 3,000 varieties of beer and 2,000 labels of wine, with live music and wine tastings in the future.

“We’ve been friends for a long time and we always wanted to go into business together,” Sumner said. “Since we’d been in the industry, we knew what we wanted. We’d worked with the vendors on big events around town, like the Blazers and Timbers, so we had a lot of contacts.”

Sumner plans promotions and giveaways to celebrate Luck E 13’s grand opening, but more important, he’s looking forward to welcoming sports fans, after-work gatherings and families.

“I wanted this to be more than just a place to eat,” Sumner said. “We want to be part of the community.”

If you go

Who: Luck E 13

Where: 55 N.E. Second St., Gresham

What: full service bar and grill, with a menu ranging from steaks to chicken nuggets, and family-friendly atmosphere until 9 p.m.

Hours of operation: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

More: For information, call 503-666-1313.

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