Which is what folks, new owners and longtime patrons alike say they like about it, that Lucy’s, hopefully, will always remain the same iconic landmark watering hole.
Husband-and-wife team Mary and Bobby Cooper, who opened the establishment on the corner of the crossroads at 4906 Voltaire St. in 1994, sold the tavern to local industry investors Todd Brown, Sean Green, Patrick Gallahue and Ryan Dhu. The new owners are connected to Good Time Design (The Blind Burro, Moonshine Flats) restaurant group.
The Coopers have since retired and moved on to Las Vegas. But not before one big well-attended wing-ding thrown in their honor by seemingly everyone in the community before they left.
“My wife and I didn’t know anything about it,” said Bobby Cooper from their new place in Vegas. “I saw some people (gathering) across the street and wondered what they were doing over there. Everybody showed up to give us a good goodbye.”
“I’ve been wanting to say thanks to all my staff and patrons,” chimed in Mary Cooper noting she and Bobby will be splitting time living between Vegas and their other place in Seal Beach.
“I did not want to sell,” admitted a teary-eyed Mary. “But my husband and I are both in our 80s and it was time. I hated to go. OB is like a family to me. So many nice people I refer to as ‘kids.’ "
Assured Mary, “I think Lucy’s will be even better with the new owners.”
Mary added they’ll be coming back to OB for visits from time to time.
Speaking on behalf of Lucy’s new ownership group, Todd Brown talked about when – and why – they took over the place.
“We took over operations on Dec. 18 and it was a deal that had been in the works for a while,” said Brown adding, “This is a special, iconic place: just fun.”
Of Lucy’s ambiance, Brown said, “The sense of community in this place is just phenomenal, the extent of who you’re engaged with when you’re there,, both employees and patrons.”
Added Brown, “We kept the whole staff. Everybody stayed.”
Brown said making wholesale changes in Lucy’s is not part of the new business plan.
“Our intention from the very beginning was not to change anything,” he said. “We just wanted to make some improvements, do some things to make it better. We thought, ‘It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”
Brown pointed out people from all walks of life, including lawyers and judges, have “had their turn in there (Lucy’s) at one point in time.”
Brown noted that became very clear to him at Lucy’s annual Christmas party the night before they took over.
“People came in to do a gift exchange and I’ve never seen such a participation level,” he said. “It is just an amazingly cohesive spot in the community where people can go to blow off a little steam.”
Lucy’s is as real as they come. “You can’t fake it,” concluded Brown.
Patrons and friends of Lucy have also raved about the Cooper “administration” at the bar.
“I met the Coopers the day OB lost Dago Choppers due to a fire (many people were at Lucy’s who were at the fire scene), and Mary and Bobby offered their restroom and donated food to all of us that were on the scene of the fire,” recalls OB community activist Claudia Jack. “From that point we were friends, and they ran the coolest bar in OB. They donated to every raffle I was involved in. They were the greatest people you could know.”
Music promoter Gale Hopping, who books bar bands for places like Lucy’s, agreed it’s one of a kind.
“It’s such an old dive bar, and the annual party they have to celebrate Lucy’s has such a huge crowd with an annual group photo out front,” pointed out Hopping. “One of the main things I liked about the bar was that it didn’t change. It has old-school roots. It’s just a great iconic, longstanding bar in Ocean Beach. For a place to go bar hopping – it’s always on the list of places to stop.”