Decades ago on the first day of school, Eddie Campbell’s teacher asked students what they wanted to be when they grow up. While others presumably offered the standard answers — athletes, astronauts, president — young Eddie said he wanted to own bars and nightclubs.
It earned him a trip to the principal’s office, but the 11-year-old was serious about his ambition.
Today, Eddie “Lucky” Campbell is now the proud co-owner of the Standard Pour. It’s not your average Uptown bar, and Campbell isn’t your average bar owner.
He grew up on a military base while his mother served in the Marines. Despite her status as a Marine, she loved entertaining, Campbell says.
“She would always point out things in restaurants,” he says. “In the summer right before school started, I saw my dad in the officer club there … and there was a big group of men there. It was like a gentlemen’s-only room, and I asked my dad that night, ‘I saw you at the officer club with all your friends, what was that?’ And he said, ‘That’s called happy Hour.’
“I can remember being super intrigued by the camaraderie and the celebratory energy of that.”
It's a treat to sit with Campbell at the bar. He’ll drink a sparkling water while you enjoy a stronger beverage, and he’ll regale you with countless stories of his experiences and the vast number of people he knows.
He’s worked in different roles at different places — “a Cuban place, a martini place, places with great wine programs” — but the whole time, he was begging people to let him work behind the bar.
Campbell started in a restaurant while he was young, first at 14 (with permission from his parents) as a dishwasher. At 16 he worked as a host at a Bennigan’s, then at 18 he started working at another local restaurant in Virginia.
He moved to Dallas when he was 24, looking to build houses. But his childhood dream called him back again. He made his way around different Dallas restaurants, mostly in front-of-house roles, but still not behind the bar.
“The irony of all of it was, I was drinking heavily, and … I started working at Culpepper [Steak House] in Rockwall, literally the day I quit drinking; the head bartender there quit, and they didn’t have anyone who knew anything about drinks, and they asked if I’d bartend.
“Literally I had spent my life begging for a bar job, and I just got serious about quitting drinking the day before, and I said, ‘I just can’t,’ and they said just give it a try … and it never affected me.”
Campbell has worked all over Dallas at places such as Bolsa and the Mansion on Turtle Creek, but he kept feeling the pull to own his own place. He opened Chesterfield in downtown Dallas but partnered with someone “well known for being the most unsuccessful restaurateur in Dallas,” as he puts it, and it didn’t work out.
Hope arrived when Parliament became available, and he and business partner Andrew Brimecome took it over. It’s still running in Uptown, just down the street from the Standard Pour.
More stumbles came with a sandwich shop on Lower Greenville that wouldn’t stick: the Knuckle Sandwich Co.
“In the end, the only one who was at the Knuckle Sandwich was us,” Campbell says. “That was a very expensive mistake. I lived on the floor of my office. It took about a year and a half to pay it off.”
Late last year, though, he got a call about the Standard Pour. The previous owners were ready to move on, and they wanted Campbell to take over.
It became his on Jan. 1, and he started making little improvements — some aesthetic changes, new menus, etc.
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“The number one biggest priority, our focus, is all on our attention on service,” he says.
It may sit on the edge of the State Thomas neighborhood in Uptown, but it gets a lot of customers from Deep Ellum. The “Don’t Uptown my Deep Ellum” T-shirts should tip you off about the vibe of this place.
It’s a cozy bar where you can have a cocktail, a beer and a decent meal. And for Campbell, it doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.
The Standard Pour, 2900 McKinney Ave. (Uptown)