Because of building delays and permitting issues, THRōW Social didn’t officially debut until 2020. The good news—the opening was “phenomenal,” Flesher-Sonnier says. The bad news—it was only open for three weeks before the pandemic locked down activities. At that point, there wasn’t much confidence in the concept’s survival. All of her brands are self-funded, and COVID wiped away financial reserves. Even worse, THRōW Social didn’t qualify for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund because of its entertainment offering and couldn’t apply for a Shuttered Venue Operator grant since there weren’t live performances. THRōW Social was stuck in limbo, and it was terrifying, especially with what the landlord commanded in rent.
The brand’s saving grace came 1,000 miles away in Delray Beach, Florida, where Flesher-Sonnier opened the second location in January. The 12,000-square-foot outpost is an enhanced version of its Washington, D.C. counterpart, with outdoor space and live music. The new unit is earning $1 million per month—the best performer among Flesher-Sonnier’s collection of concepts.
“During COVID I moved to Florida—not very far from Palm Beach—and I decided to do another one here because everything was open and businesses were thriving,” she says. “I recreated the concept down here, but with it mostly outside. This venue was kind of a pocket [listing] deal. It had 6,000 square feet of patio with a huge stage and bars. And I just jumped on that opportunity and recreated it down here and then got to add the live music and all kinds programming that made it super exciting.”
The Washington, D.C. location didn’t reopen until June 2021. Business picked up once customers returned, but it’s nowhere near what’s happening in Florida.
The inaugural location attracts 25–45 year olds, primarily women because of the aesthetics, Flesher-Sonnier says. The Florida unit attracts a swath of people from 21-70, including a good portion of active retirees. Because of that wide range, live music starts at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. to allow older demographics to enjoy the entertainment. As the night goes on, the playlist caters more toward the younger crowd, and then a DJ gets involved.