Rebounding from the pandemic, Thirsty Lion helping PTOs - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Rebounding from the pandemic, Thirsty Lion helping PTOs

September 1st, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Rebounding from the pandemic, Thirsty Lion helping PTOs

By Ken Sain
STSN Managing Editor

Chandler’s Thirsty Lion Gastropub had just opened and was excited about its future at Frye Road and the Loop 101 freeway. 

And then the world shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Chandler had been open two weeks,” said Julia Thorn, the marketing director for Concept Entertainment, Thirsty Lion’s parent company. “So that was a pretty big hit, you know, to open and then have to close down.”

Life isn’t quite back to normal, Thorn said, but it’s getting there. They recently opened two new Gastropubs in Texas and plan to open another at Westgate in Glendale in the fall of 2023.

During September Thirsty Lion, will donate a portion of its sales to local parent/teacher associations (PTA) at area schools who register by the first week of the month. The promotion is running at all four Valley locations, including Tempe, Gilbert and North Phoenix.

To participate, local PTAs need to be one of the first 10 to register with the Gastropub near them. Anyone who visits a Thirsty Lion during September needs to tell their server they want to donate to that PTA. 

Asked if business is back to normal, Thorn said, “We’re hoping that fourth quarter that we’ll be back. It’s a new business normal.”

Thorn said that some things from the pandemic will continue even when COVID-19 becomes a bad memory. 

For one, Thirsty Lion did not offer take-out or delivery service before the pandemic. She said they’ve had such success with it that it will continue.

“We had a really great response for our managers and staff that wanted to come back,” Thorn said. “Of course, there were those that, you know, chose to go a different path during all of that. We struggle like everyone else with getting staffed back up.”

Thorn said Thirsty Lion does about a half dozen charity events each year.

“Schools, I feel, are part of the community,” Thorn said. “And we like serving not only our customers inside the four walls, but outside the four walls. That’s a very important part of the community, schools. So giving back to the schools has always been part of our corporate philosophy.”

A PTO needs to raise at least $100 during September to get a check. Thorn said if they fall short of that mark, the company usually gives them a gift card that they can raffle off.

Thorn said she noticed an uptick in business at the end of 2020, about eight months after the pandemic began.

“You know, people were just kind of like over it, and ready to get back into the going out to the restaurants,” Thorn said. “And they came back strong.”

Thirsty Lion is known for being a relaxing, family-friendly place. While it has sports playing on the large TVs, it’s not a sports bar. The food is made from scratch.

Thorn said the company is switching to a new two-story model for its Thirsty Lion locations. The Westgate facility opening next year will be the first of those in the Valley.

“We want to be able to support as many of the schools in the area as we can,” Thorn said.