Robert Lee “Bob” Lucas was the son of Alice and Leon “Donkey” Lucas. His father achieved recognition as a boxer in the 1928 Olympics, competing in the light-heavyweight division. In 1943, Leon Lucas purchased a bar located at 1223 Haddon Avenue from Mrs. Ada Mathews, the widow of Charles E. A. Mathews, a long-time bar owner in Camden. Under Leon’s ownership, the bar was renamed Donkey’s Place and gained local and, over time, national fame for its delicious cheesesteak sandwiches.
Since the bar was a family enterprise, Bob Lucas began tending bar as soon as he turned 21. After his father’s passing in 1971, he assumed responsibility for its operation and continued to work behind the bar until shortly before his own passing in July 2015. In addition to the original Donkey’s Place in Camden, Bob Lucas established a second branch in Medford and briefly operated a third location in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Although Bob Lucas relocated to Medford, his deep affection for Camden never diminished. He was cherished in Camden as much as his renowned sandwiches were beloved by patrons.
Robert Lee “Bob” Lucas was the son of Alice and Leon “Donkey” Lucas, later assuming responsibility for operations of Donkeys Place.
Donkey’s Place, at 1223 Haddon Avenue, does not appear as a bar or restaurant in the 1918-1919 Camden City Directory.
It is a bit of Camden in amber now, Donkey’s Place is, or maybe a shrine – the dingy bar hung with photos of the founder, his dukes perpetually up; the grill steaming with steaks and onions; the back room still swathed in the original tobacco-colored mural, a sweep of Sahara, its palms chipped and…
Her sister-in-law, Elsie Lucas, 40, of Medford, chimed in with a story about how, when she was visiting Italy a few years ago, an American woman spotted her.