AZ Central – LGO founder opening spot in downtown Phoenix

by Howard Seftel – Feb. 10, 2010 09:46 AM
The Arizona Republic

The downtown Phoenix restaurant scene has been speeding down the runway for the past couple of years. Now, it looks like it may achieve lift-off.

Bob Lynn, founder and president of the wildly successful La Grande Orange restaurant group (LGO Hospitality), has just signed on to open a restaurant at the new CityScape development by the end of 2010.

It will be called LGO Public House, a 3000-square foot gastro pub featuring updated American fare, including dips, salads, fish and burgers. There will also be a substantial beverage component, with craft beers, California and Oregon wines and cocktails.

Why downtown Phoenix? Lynn says that, “Phoenix is a world-class city, and I believe in downtown.”

Why CityScape? Lynn is impressed with its “big vision” and its “great energy and vibe.” The development, which expects to eventually gather 15 restaurants in its 100,000 square feet of restaurant space, is bordered by First Street and First Avenue, between Washington and Jefferson Streets. CityScape spokesman Jay Thorne says the development pursued LGO because it fit the “exact profile for a perfect tenant” – “unique and local.”

And why a gastro pub? Lynn says it’s based on his happy childhood memories of a Chicago pub called Hogans, a place where his whole family would gather. “A stiff bourbon for Mom, a beer for Dad and food for five kids,” he fondly recalls.

He anticipates a mostly professional and business clientele for lunch at LGO Public House – CityScape has attracted several law firm tenants, and Arizona State University’s downtown campus is just a short walk away. At dinner, the target demographic is “everyone,” from pre- and post-downtown event diners to nearby residents. (The restaurant plans to stay open until 1 a.m.) After LGO Public House gets its lunch and dinner act together, Lynn says breakfast will also be part of mix.

Lynn started working in restaurants at the age of 13, and spent 25 years as a high-powered executive at Houston’s before helping to launch Postino Winecafé in 2002. (He no longer has any connection to Postino.) He quickly followed up with La Grande Orange Pizzeria, Chelsea’s Kitchen and Radio Milano, which turned once-sleepy Arcadia into a buzzing Phoenix restaurant neighborhood. And last month he added Grateful Spoon Gelato (formerly known as Arlecchino Gelateria) to the LGO stable.

The company has also made a splash in southern California, with La Grande Oranges in Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Lynn says he is in downtown Phoenix for the long haul. He dreams about turning LGO Public House into “an institution like Durant’s, but more modern.”

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