Dekum Street bar Tough Luck (1771 NE Dekum St., 971-754-4188, toughluckbar.com) did indeed open this May in a former Woodlawn convenience store that fell on hard times. But it's not themed for failure.
Like the owners' other gold-digger-themed patio bars, Paydirt and The Old Gold, it's based on a surefire formula of whiskey and comfort food. And judging from the crowds in the tight-tabled drinking hall at 6 pm, it's already well-appreciated in its neighborhood. Whiskey is stocked here in impressive abundance, with a five-deep list of $9-$10 house Old Fashioneds including variants using rye, bourbon, Japanese and Irish.
The decor is both sparse and outsized: One wall is dominated by a giant mural recreating a mass-market Ouija board, while the opposite wall features a 16-foot-long light-up scoreboard for the house shuffleboard table. If you're bad at the game, be warned that every single person at the bar will be able to follow along with your incompetence.
Consolation will likely come in the form of chef Lauren Miller's fried chicken. Like Kim Jong Smokehouse and the FOMO food cart, the Kentucky-native chef is playing fruitfully with the natural confluence between Southern-American and East-Asian soul food. The Korean fried chicken bowl ($14) comes topped in sweet-spicy tom kha sauce on a bed of kimchi and fried onions, while the burger is a double-patty dogpile with kimchi ketchup and pimento cheese. The ramen takes its cues from old cookouts, its pork belly braised with good-old-fashioned Coca-Cola.
But as at the owners' other two spots, the beer list skews away from the familiar toward beers that are rarely tapped—often for good reason, as with a deeply unfortunate Kolsch from tiny Seaside Brewing. If you want beer that's not a back to whiskey, you might instead go for a $5 furikake-topped tallboy michelada that'll pair nicely with the food.