Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill is preparing to open two new Arizona locations at Desert Ridge Marketplace and Chandler Fashion Center.
The Desert Ridge location is set to open in November with the Chandler restaurant being planned for February 2020. Each restaurant will employ around 100 people, bringing Thirsty Lion’s Arizona staff total to 500.
The shopping center is owned and managed by Phoenix-based real estate company Vestar. Vestar is also the landlord for Tempe Marketplace.
The new north Phoenix and Chandler locations are part of the company’s plans to establish a footprint in parts of the Valley not currently serviced by its three existing restaurants.
“What we’ve learned is that many people will meet at shopping centers like Tempe Marketplace because it’s in between their houses and neighborhoods,” CEO John Plew said.
The Desert Ridge restaurant will be located on the southwest side of The District, the shopping center’s main dining and retail area. The 6,500-square-foot restaurant will have a dining room and a large outdoor bar complete with fire pit. The bar will boast a large crop of craft beers on tap, including many native to the Valley from breweries including Huss Brewing and Four Peaks Brewing Co.
The Arizona beer industry is thriving, contributing $5.4 billion annually to the state’s economy and supporting over 43,000 jobs. The new Thirsty Lion location can only provide additional economic support.
Plew said that each new location costs about $3 million to build out and open.
Thirsty Lion already has a strong Valley presence with locations at Tempe Marketplace, Scottsdale Fashion Square and Gilbert’s SanTan Village. The restaurant chain can also be found throughout Oregon, Colorado and Texas.
Plew said the brand’s focus in 2021 and 2022 will be on establishing a presence in new markets like Florida, Atlanta and Chicago, though he’s happy to be thriving in the Valley.
“We’re excited about the Phoenix market. It seems like things are doing well, lots of good jobs and people relocating there,” he said. “It’s amazing to see.”