The seasoned restauranters behind Thirsty Lion Gastropub a division of Concept Entertainment Group (CEG) received two prestigious recognitions for the strategic pivot and continued success the restaurant group managed in 2020. One from FSR Magazine, the second from Hospitality Technology Magazine
FSR Magazine named the restaurant a Next-Gen Casual Restaurant Brand described as “the inaugural list of 20 restaurants under 20 units with potential to scale far beyond their home markets and change the larger dining landscape.”
“The restaurant space is filled with so many innovative, up-and-coming brands, and we’re excited to spotlight the ones we think have the potential to go far,” said Nicole Duncan, editor of FSR Magazine. “FSR magazine’s first-ever Next-Gen Brands report features 20 brands with fewer than 20 units that we’re betting on for future growth. Thirsty Lion and parent group CEG Hospitality have done an admirable job navigating the highs and lows of the pandemic. This resiliency combined with the restaurant’s craft-forward spin on the gastropub experience have it positioned for future success.”
Thirsty Lion already had a solid foundation going into 2020. In the space of two months, it opened two new units in Phoenix and moved its headquarters to Scottsdale, Ariz. It had also just surpassed the $50 million system-wide sales marker.
The Industry Heroes Award from Hospitality Technology Magazine recognizes both restaurants and technology suppliers for exemplary contributions to the restaurant industry in 2020.
During the pandemic CEG launched Central Kitchen, an online food hall operating out of Thirsty Lion locations, to provide guests with diverse cuisine options from one central kitchen. Four new restaurant concepts were developed for Central Kitchen, each featuring unique culinary directions and scratch-made food available for takeout and delivery from the one website. The online food hall launched in Oregon with great success and quickly expanded to Thirsty Lion kitchens in Colorado, Texas and Arizona.
“2020 was a trying year for the restaurant industry with many unprecedented challenges,” said John Plew, president and CEO of Thirsty Lion Gastropub. “Central Kitchen was the perfect opportunity to pivot with the climate and launch an idea that aligns with current consumer demands. We were successful through the dedication of our staff and the loyalty of our customers.”
The launch of Central Kitchen was successful across all markets by allowing customers to order a variety of food via third-party delivery and pickup. This successful pivot to an online food hall earned Concept Entertainment Group a 2021 Industry Hero award from Hospitality Technology Magazine.
“The Industry Hero awards acknowledge members of our restaurant technology community who truly went above and beyond in the face of closed dining rooms and lockdowns, pivoting to off-prem and digital solutions to serve customers, support employees, and feed communities in need,” said Abigail Lorden, vice president and publisher of Hospitality Technology.