Construction Watch

Thirsty Lion Gastropub to Take Over Failed Earls Spot

There's so much construction going on in Cherry Creek North that it's easy to overlook vacancies that would be glaring in any other neighborhood. Columbine Street, in particular, has been an obstacle course of orange cones and scaffolding as two major projects — an office building and a hotel, both with ground-floor retail spaces — have changed the face of the block. An empty restaurant space at the corner of East Second Avenue and Columbine Street has collected dust for more than a year since Earls Kitchen & Bar closed up shop there, leaving the furnishings intact as some sort of odd cautionary tale to other upscale chain eateries that may have been scouting the spot.

But someone's going to take the bait, just like the naive couple lured into buying the house everyone knows is haunted even as bloodstains mysteriously appear on the carpets. The Oregon-based group that runs several Thirsty Lion Gastropubs around the country isn't scared away by the ghosts of Earls, Ocean and Mao — expensive concepts that have tried and failed in the location. The chain's website states that it's aiming to open a new Thirsty Lion in the spot in May 2016.

There's already one Thirsty Lion in town; it opened next to Union Station in the spring of 2014. And like that downtown location, the Cherry Creek Lion will offer the same something-for-everyone kind of menu that Earls featured: a few sushi rolls here, some grilled salmon there, a handful of burgers and some cheesy artichoke dip.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation