Schmidt’s — a brewing company originally in Philadelphia — has been a hallmark of the city’s beer scene since it was founded by Christian Schmidt in 1860. William Pflaumer bought the brewery in 1976, and by the early ’80s, it was producing more than 3 million barrels per year, making it the ninth-largest brewery in the country. Schmidt’s was sold to a Wisconsin company in 1986.
A Schmidt’s clock ticks away behind the bar while dimly lit Schmidt’s lamps illuminate the dining room. Schmidt’s is also available in Lucky 13’s twist on Philadelphia’s Citywide Special, consisting of a Jägermeister shot and a can of Schmidt’s.
Lucky 13, a bar on 13th Street near East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia, offers eight rotating beers on draft. Manager and bartender Maureen McBrearty, who has worked at the neighborhood pub for five years, said Lucky 13 fills its beer lines with local brews — especially any new or seasonal releases — that cater to the diverse East Passyunk residents.
Two handwritten menus sprawled on chalkboards above the bar let customers know the current draft list, which includes Shock Top Belgian White and Uinta Brewing Company’s Golden Spike Hefeweizen. But Lucky 13 customers can always rely on one thing: a steady stream of Kenzinger by Philadelphia Brewing Company.
On any given day, the East Passyunk crowd fills up the wooden stools at the bar as songs from artists like The Kinks and Alice Cooper play in the background.
“It’s the craziest mix of people you’ll meet,” McBrearty said. “We have middle-aged men who have regular day jobs and kids. We have people in the club scene, other people in the hip-hop scene, literally everyone you can think of.”
She added that even though the East Passyunk neighborhood has changed over the years, the bar and its clientele have largely stayed the same.
The bar focuses on building relationships with its patrons and appealing to nearby residents looking for a laid-back dive.
“It’s a little hidden gem off Passyunk that not many people know about,” said Koren Kuz, who lives near Passyunk Square and goes to the bar at least once a week. “Especially on the weekends, when Passyunk’s really busy with tourists and people that come to go to dinner, no one knows about Lucky 13, so it’s mostly local Philly people. It’s a good hide-out spot.”
Kuz, a 2012 kinesiology alumna, said her go-to drink at Lucky 13 is its Cherry Bulleit Manhattan cocktail, which has cherry liqueur, Bulleit rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters topped with a cherry.
McBrearty said Lucky 13’s sense of community sets the bar apart from other establishments in the neighborhood. She’s seen the same regulars come into the bar since she first started working there in 2013.
“The people that come in here have become my best friends,” she said. “I’ve gone on trips with regulars and other staff members.”
She has traveled to places like Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Florida and gone to concerts with her customers. And each year, the bar’s owner, Clark Newman, buys tickets to Opening Day, the first day of the Major League Baseball season, for Lucky 13 staff and regulars.
“What’s really nice is the sense of companionship,” McBrearty said. “We’ve all been to a lot of weddings and funerals over the last few years. Everybody goes to support each other.”
Lucky 13 also supports community organizations in the city by hosting fundraisers. On Sundays, the bar raises money for Planned Parenthood, offering specials like 60-cent perogies with sour cream and caramelized onions, $8 PB&J eggrolls and $10 pitchers of Miller High Life.
And on Monday nights, East Passyunk residents pack the bar for $1 tacos and a comedy open-mic. During the week, there are menu specials like $2 bacon-wrapped hot dogs on Tuesdays. Events like Wednesday night trivia games bring out South Philly neighbors, too.
Kuz said the Lucky 13 staff is welcoming, friendly and never judges. She said she enjoys not having to worry about what she wears when she goes there because the crowd is always laid back.
“It doesn’t advertise to get non-locals in,” Kuz said. “I feel like it only wants locals. Whenever I go in there I see all the same people.”
McBrearty said Lucky 13’s authentic Philadelphia atmosphere makes the bar unique.
“If you come in, you’re going to make friends,” McBrearty said. “Everyone talks to everybody and at any random time everyone could be dancing. It’s neighborhood-y, but very welcoming.”