Chuck Cerankosky ’03 (industrial design) had never served a dinner table or bartended when he opened Good Luck restaurant in Rochester eight years ago.
But he had been trained in industrial design, and as part of that training he was prepared to solve problems.
“Opening a restaurant is a design project,” Cerankosky said. “Not only is it a design project, but it’s a nexus for other design projects. There’s how the restaurant looks itself but there’s all of the collateral that goes with it, from your menus to the napkins to the coasters to the website.”
His design project recently received high praise when Good Luck made Esquire’s list of the 18 best bars in America. As part of the list, Cerankosky, who runs the restaurant with two partners and oversees the bar, provided a recipe for a New York Sour.
“It’s loud, boisterous, busy. It’s also excellent, even down to the (okay, now cliché) on-tap Moscow Mule, which they liven up, unconventionally, with a splash of Scotch ale,” wrote Esquire writer David Wondrich, who is known as a founder of the modern craft-cocktail movement.
Cerankosky, a fan of Wondrich’s books including Imbibe, which was the first cocktail book to win a James Beard award, met the author years ago at a conference and handed him a Good Luck cocktail menu. Last year, he learned that Wondrich would be coming through Rochester and planned to stop at Good Luck.
After the visit, Cerankosky was contacted by the magazine’s parent company, Hearst Corp., for more information about the restaurant. He was thrilled when the magazine was published because it validates his staff’s hard work.
“It makes everyone feel good about the bar and Rochester,” said Cerankosky, who with his partners also owns a smaller restaurant called Cure in Rochester’s Public Market. “That place you proposed to your wife is nationally known.”
When Cerankosky attended RIT, he worked at Java’s Café and rose to the rank of manager. At Java’s he began to see the parallels between the restaurant business and being a designer.
He did work in the traditional industrial design field for a time after graduating, but he became more and more fascinated with restaurants. He approached his boss at Java’s about opening a restaurant and they became partners. They then found a third partner who was a professional chef.
Cerankosky said he started researching the craft-cocktail movement and wanted to bring it to Rochester. (“It’s not the hardest thing to research,” he said. “You get to drink the research after you are done.”)
Although their first summer open was a little slow, the community has embraced the Good Luck concept and the focus on quality ingredients. “It’s pretty neat how a food service business can touch your life,” he said. “I think Good Luck has become a valuable part of the Rochester culture.”
To see the Esquire list, go to http://bit.ly/EsquireGoodLuck.