Q&A: Andy Luck of Luck Bros Coffee House

From the October 20, 2011 edition

Coffee connoisseur, table-tennis expert, bold tweeter. Whether you’re having a cup at his Grandview java shop or being beaten by him at the Ace of Cups ping-pong table, Andy Luck is an interesting guy to have around.

I started playing pingpong in the basement like everyone else. My dad was a professor at Texas Christian University, and he would hit the ball around with a guy who went to China when Nixon sent some guys to China. The event was in “Forrest Gump.” My dad would beat me to the point where I wanted nothing more than to beat him at pingpong. That started when I was about six.

I really started to develop my own style at University of Findlay. One of their programs is this international business program. The point of it was to teach international students how to conduct business with Americans. It brings in all these students from all these other cultures, and I played them in ping-pong. The different styles really were difficult to deal with.

My first job out of college, I was in software development. I was kind of just stuck in this room. I developed a need for coffee. You have to write all that code, and you just start drinking a lot of coffee. First thing in the morning, before you sit down, you need to drink some coffee.

I quickly tied coffee to human interaction. The break room where I would get the coffee became a place where I could interact with some co-workers. I started finding that if I left the break room and went to even the crappiest of coffee shops, the coffee was better — and the conversation was, too.

Retail is in my blood. We have a family of shoe stores in Akron, Lucky Shoes. We’ve got some Stride Rites in town and New Balance stores that are Luck family.

Luck Bros’ has been open almost five years. I just exercised an option for another five years, so I’ll be there awhile. A coffee shop is a social hub of a neighborhood. That has a big draw for me.

A piece of advice that I really like is the Woody Hayes quote that you win with people. Doing everything by yourself is so much harder.

Three things I would take to a desert island are one of my three dogs, a bottle of mezcal and the ability to make espresso. I’ll just bring my shop.

Photo by Alysia Burton