Concept Entertainment Group Hospitality, the parent company of Thirsty Lion Gastropub and Central Kitchen Online Food Hall, has moved its national headquarters from Portland, Oregon, to Scottsdale, Arizona.
The company will be well situated for future growth due to its proximity to its growth markets in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. Concept Entertainment will also be in good company since Scottsdale and the Phoenix Metro Area have long been a creative culinary launchpad and incubator for some of the biggest breakout restaurant groups in the full-service category from FOX Restaurant Concepts, PF Chang’s, Guy and Larry Restaurants and Square One Concepts. It's a great area for sourcing the top talent in the hospitality industry.
Concept Entertainment, with 1,200 employees, was forced to close all of its restaurants at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as it was not feasible to operate its scratch kitchens on take-out business alone. The company reopened all locations over a four-week period with pickup and delivery with the exception of the Scottsdale Fashion Square location. The jump was successful and as statewide stay-at-home orders lifted it has been able to rehire 50 percent of its original staff and reopen at least 75 percent of its brick and mortar restaurants.
Concept Entertainment CEO John Plew says, “It was absolutely heartbreaking but necessary to temporarily halt operations last March. We quickly negotiated with our tenant representatives to maintain as many restaurants as we could and consulted with our advisors to come up not only with a superior Covid-19 cleaning protocol, sources for funding to maintain teams, contactless ordering, and payment systems but a plan to reopen as quickly as possible. We also needed to move closer to our growth markets to keep our teams safe and allow for the quickest response to ever-changing needs during the pandemic.”
Thirsty Lion Gastropub it's scratch kitchen restaurant concept has been expanding since its launch in 2010, with ten locations in Oregon, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado and plans to open a new location, its first two-story restaurant with a rooftop patio in North Texas at Grandscape in The Colony early 2022.
The Colony’s Grandscape, one of the largest and most unique mixed-use real estate developments in the country owned by Warren Buffett. Thirsty Lion will join a variety of popular restaurants, an outdoor amphitheater, a convention center, a hotel and spa, and more. Thirsty Lion’s Grandscape location will be its most ambitious yet. The Gastropub’s first two-story location will feature a second-floor bar and rooftop patio as well as 6,500 square feet of outdoor seating with fire pits and an additional 2,500 square foot green space patio with lawn games like cornhole and shuffleboard.
“We’ve experienced enormous success and great developments in Arizona and Texas and guests and communities there have welcomed us with open arms,” says Thirsty Lion Gastropub CEO John Plew. “We think more developments similar to these will create success in other major cities.” Plew plans more future expansion in Arizona, Texas, and Colorado.
In addition to rebuilding the Thirsty Lion brand, John Plew VP and his Corporate Executive Chef Keith Castro quickly moved to beta-test a first-of-its-kind, online food hall model called Central Kitchen in its restaurants in Portland, Oregon, in Summer of 2020.
Since last fall, the company has been able to successfully integrate its Central Kitchen to help sales at this time within its existing Thirsty Lion restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.
Thirsty Lion serves a signature menu of worldly cuisines, with an emphasis on local ingredients and bold flavors. Their “seasonal fresh sheets” focus on featuring unique ingredients based on the time of year, including fresh seafood, quality meats, and local vegetables and fruits. The bar features a large selection of craft beers on tap, many of which are local to each market, and dozens of flatscreen TVs for prime sports viewing. The gastropub also features unique craft cocktails that utilize combinations of fresh fruit purees, juices, and premium liquors, as well as at least 20 different wines by the glass.
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