July 28, 2014 – I was probably 13 years old the first time I had lunch at the Lucky Wishbone. I know we hadn’t been in Anchorage for long. The father of one of my new Alaska friends took us there. And that day I had the first burger, fries and milk shakes of many yet to come.
George and Peg Brown had opened the restaurant four years earlier, in 1955, and have been famous for fried chicken, burgers, milk shakes and friendly customer service ever since. George is 92 now but still works in the restaurant. Peg passed away a few years ago. Their daughter Pat is in charge when her dad isn’t around. And Pat has maintained the Wishbone’s reputation for good food and friendly service.
The Lucky Wishbone was one of the social centers of Anchorage in the early days of statehood. Many of the state’s political, business and social leaders could be found there. It was a favorite of Alaska’s three term governor and founding father Bill Egan when he was in town. I was reminded of that when my wife and I had lunch recently at the Wishbone. Looking across the parking lot I recalled the small building that sat there. It was Governor Egan’s headquarters in the days immediately following the Great Alaska Earthquake. And I was a 17 year old Civil Defense volunteer assigned to be his errand boy for a few days.
My wife was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Anchorage. I was surprised, then, to learn that she had never been to the Lucky Wishbone. She was long over due.
Inside the décor hasn’t changed. On the wall next to the entry are scores of small photographs of customers, including several famous faces. The wall at the far end of the room still holds pictures of World War II era aircraft. In a world that moves so rapidly it’s a comfort to find a place that hasn’t changed. They just keep doing what they have always done and they do it well.
As usual when I’m at the Wishbone I ordered a chocolate milk shake. And also as usual, Mckenzie brought it immediately and I had finished it before our meal arrived. There’s nothing like having dessert first!
I love their fried chicken. And they make a great chili burger. But they’re also one of the very few restaurants that offer two of my favorites: chicken livers and gizzards. You can order them individually or you can order what they call “giblets.” That’s a combination of livers and gizzards. Now I know chicken livers and gizzards aren’t for everyone. But they definitely are for me. I ordered the giblets.
My wife was far more conservative. She ordered the fish sandwich. But then she said maybe it would be a shame to not try the fried chicken since the Lucky Wishbone is famous for its fried chicken.
Mckenzie had the perfect solution. “Why don’t I substitute a couple of pieces of chicken for the fries that come with your sandwich?” she offered. My wife thought that was a grand idea. To sweeten the deal Mckenzie also showed up with a small bowl of cole slaw, one of my wife’s favorite side dishes.
My giblets were wonderful. Livers and gizzards both lightly breaded and perfectly fried. The gizzards had the delightfully gelatinous chewiness that make them so uniquely good. The livers had the creaminess that makes them so delicious.
People who like gizzards and livers will understand this. People who don’t like them, well, stick with the fried chicken and burgers. You’ll be just as delighted.