National News

Flagship restaurant leaves downtown, says neighborhood has changed

Posted August 30

— Tuesday afternoon in downtown Portland, the usual crowd outside Thirsty Lion was gone.

The fixture in the neighborhood served it's customers one last time on Sunday.

"We want to continue to grow great restaurants across the United States," owner John Plew.

The first Thirsty Lion opened in 2006, then expanded to Washington Square and Tigard.

Plew says the area has change quite a bit over the years.

"It just doesn't fit our forward model of where we've taken the restaurant," Plew said of being in downtown.

Their neighbors at Oyster Bar could not have agreed more. Employee David Parker said the environment changes around him daily.

"This road is always closed all the time so I'm pretty sure it brings in homeless people around a lot. These people pretty much set up a living room right here."While Plew didn't cite homelessness as a reason for closing, he's seen a shift in culture too.

"It's just part of living in the neighborhood, you got to deal with it and we've always had to deal with it," said Plew.

Kells owner Gerard McAleese said businesses come and go, it is just the name of the game.

"I just hope they bring a good clientele to the neighborhood. We've been here, we're not going anywhere, we've been here for 27 years," McAleese said.

A new pub called Alderman's Portland Tavern will replace Thirsty Lion.

Plew said it was a tough decision to close but admitted he is ready for bigger and better things.

"The owners have a great space and they're going to localize it and be hands on and really do great things and continue to help the neighborhood and its progress," said Plew.

Thirsty Lion posted a goodbye on their Facebook page, saying:

To our guests,

We're sorry to say that we've closed our downtown Portland location.

It's been a great run in Old Town.

As our brand has evolved and grown, so too we've outgrown this space. We hope that you'll visit our other Oregon locations in Tigard and Hillsboro if you haven't already. Here's to the memories that were made at SW 2nd & Ash.

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