Evansville, Indiana has a full and rich history. Part of that rich history includes the stores, bars, restaurants, and other businesses that have managed to thrive over the years. One of those historic restaurants in Lamasco Bar and Grill. This locally owned and operated restaurant serves food, drinks, live music, and tons of family fun. They’ve been around for more than 80 years now, and are only continuing to flourish. While the growth of Lamasco can be contributed to many factors, part of the growth is largely thanks to owner Amy Word. Not only is Amy a passionate and dedicated business owner, but also she has a strong heart for Evansville and the people who live here.
What is the experience people can expect to have at Lamasco Bar & Grill?
"It’s very unique. We’ve just celebrated the 84th birthday of Lamasco, so she’s an old gal. It’s in an old building on a historic street in Evansville – Franklin Street. Our story is a greater story of a place that has been in the area since Prohibition. At the turn of the century it was a grocery store with a family living above it. I mean, the story of the building itself is so unique. And it’s also such a pretty building. When we got this building we inherited the history along with it. For most of the beginning of Lamasco, it was just a small neighborhood bar on Franklin Street with several other bars and restaurants.
When I took over Lamasco, I saw us in terms of the greater area. I founded an organization called the Franklin Street Events Association. It’s now eight years old. It was basically all the businesses on the street. I realized that if we told our stories collectively, we were much more powerful than we would be as individuals. We formed this organization, and it now has the region’s largest farmers market, thousands of people coming to pub crawls, movie nights, concert nights, and a movement where this whole street has come together."
In some ways, Lamasco was kind of the change agent in all of that. Not only were we trying to grow Lamasco, but we were also wanting to see an entire community grow with us. Through the association we were able to exceed those goals."
Tell me more about the live music scene at Lamasco.
"We have a very healthy mix of local music combined with regional, national, and even international artists. We’ve had everything from the nation’s hottest Reggae to Nappy Roots, Afroman, John Wayne and the Pain...I mean we have bands from all over. Think bluegrass, Americana, blues, rock & roll, and we have a lineup that goes over almost 200 nights a year.
Three years ago, right before I started The Dapper Pig, we added 2500 square feet onto the building and we added a beautiful stage. We had grown so much I just realized that was the next step we needed to take. Our production is amazing. Our sound, lights, and the whole production has set us apart in our region. The caliber of musicians that we have perform is really something for our size of town."
What are some of the menu items that Lamasco is known for?
"We are open 20 hours a day, seven days a week. We open at 7 a.m., and we are open until 3 a.m. the next morning. My nighttime crew passes my daytime crew. So, interestingly enough, we are well-known for our breakfast, and we’re famous for our breakfast burrito. Also, If you come in at 2 a.m. you can order our breakfast burrito. Or, vice versa, you can come in at 7 a.m. and order burgers or pizza. We don’t have our menu divided by time. You can order anything at anytime.
We’ve got great sandwiches, a breaded pork tenderloin, the Amy’s Philly Cheesesteak (that’s named after me and it’s my favorite!), and the wings are popular too.
The volume is much higher and we’re at a different price point at Lamasco than we are at The Dapper Pig (the other restaurant I own), so we aren’t able to locally source all of our ingredients. However, we try our best where we can. For example, we work with local butchers on all of our meat. We also hand bread most of our items, so it’s not like we’re pulling things out of a bag of frozen food. We definitely have a high standard of quality that we’re working toward."
Have there been any special moments at Lamasco?
"There are so many. I’m a musician, so for me, it’s really the many faces and acts that come through and perform. There are truly so many incredible musicians we’ve had perform here. A few years ago when we added the new stage, we were able to make that a family-friendly room. Seeing families that are eating and drinking while their kids are dancing and getting to experience live, original music...I mean, I get struck by those special moments a lot.
At least once a week I just take a deep breath, and I have to take it all in and smile and realize that not only is business booming, but what we do is so incredibly unique as well. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I look at everyone and go 'I’ve got something in my eye' because it’s so touching."
Can you talk more about your experience as a musician?
"I play guitar and sing. Just the other night I sat in with Adam Ezra, who is one of Boston’s number one bands for almost seven or eight years in a row now. I loved being able to get up on stage and sing a few songs. Experiences like that are so incredibly memorable for me."
What are your dreams for the future of Lamasco?
“This year we played around with doing pre-ticketed, larger shows. Over the next two to three years we want to increase that piece. We also do Lamasco on location. We’re part of a non-profit music festival called Parks Fest. We set up a huge beer tent. We love being a part of these community events that are gathering people together around music. We want to be a part of making more of those types of events happen. I see a lot more of that in our future.
And of course, we want to make sure the quality of what we’re doing– both food and music– continues to increase. We always want to provide a great place for our community."
How is Lamasco connected to Evansville?
"In many ways, Lamasco is synonymous with community just because of the work we did to revitalize Franklin Street. We’re such a core piece of the Westside. I love that the word community literally has the word “unity” in it. If people don’t show up to the shows, we can’t keep bringing these great acts into the city. It’s a symbiotic relationship. All of us have to work together. Music venues only work if people are there listening and dancing. We recognize that we rely so much on the community to embrace us as family. That’s important to us, and it’s what we want people to feel. There’s a reason Cheers ran for twenty years – because every town has a Cheers where everybody knows your name. That’s what we want Lamasco to be for our community."
Lamasco Bar and Grill is a beautiful example of what a small, local business can do for a community. Not only do they provide yummy food and fantastic entertainment, but they provide a place for the community to come together AND they help strengthen other local businesses while they're at it! And guess what, Lamasco isn't the only one! Find the other local shops and businesses servicing the Evansville area on Towny – your FREE resources to perks and all things local.