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Thirsty Lion Pub Vacates Old Town

Owner cites customer harassment as one of the reasons for the closure

The Thirsty Lion Old Town
Yelp/Thirsty Lion

On Sunday, the homegrown gastropub and sports bar franchise Thirsty Lion closed its downtown Portland location, at 71 SW 2nd Ave. Thirsty Lion was one of Portland’s top sports bars, and it still has locations in Tigard and Hillsboro, as well as a handful around the country.

It doesn’t appear owner John Plew (Grand Central Restaurant and Bowling Lounge) closed for lack of business. In an interview with WWeek, Plew, who has 35 years of experience running food and drink establishments in Portland’s Old Town, blamed the closure in part on the area’s culture, in which one must "shoo people off your steps," "make sure your bathrooms have codes,” and watch "your guests get harassed on the way out the door.”

Plew also says he’s in the process of scaling up the Thirsty Lion franchise. Combined, these issues were enough to lock up.

New owners are taking over: Derek Stotz and Richard Kelly will replace the Thirsty Lion with Alderman's Portland Tavern. According to the liquor license application, Alderman’s Portland Tavern will have a full bar and be open for lunch and dinner, with earlier hours on the weekends. The neighborhood is on the move, with ramen-hotspot Afuri opening its second U.S. location just around the block, at 50 SW 3rd Ave.

Here’s the full Thirsty Lion Facebook goodbye:

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.