In 2002, Bob Lynn introduced Arcadia to LGO Grocery, and our taste buds have never been the same.
Over the last 14 years, he’s expanded the LGO Hospitality collection to more than a dozen restaurants in Phoenix and Los Angeles, including several Arcadia favorites.
Lynn lives near Chelsea’s Kitchen in an Al Beadle home with his wife, Sara. Arcadia News recently sat down with the founder and president to find out why he started his collection in Arcadia, what goes into creating new concepts and what’s on the horizon for LGO Hospitality.
AN: How did LGO Hospitality begin?
BL: LGO Hospitality began with the idea of building a collection of food-related businesses that are layered and distinct from each other, yet all part of a singular identity and same point of view. There was a commitment from the beginning to dig deep with our design, service style, use of ingredients and recipe creation.
AN: What made you choose Arcadia as the starting point for your restaurant collection?
BL: Arcadia is one of Phoenix’s oldest and most important neighborhoods. The location was perfect for those who wanted to live a lifestyle that included a diverse and tolerant community where you could walk and cycle to the neighborhood restaurants and businesses. The 40th Street and Campbell corner was unique in that it had commercial zoning and was ideal for creative and unique businesses that Arcadia could call their own. The location was in rough shape when I purchased it. After five years of negotiation, we owned a small strip mall with a convenience store and three underground gasoline storage tanks. There was no landscaping and a dumpster sat where the java garden is today.
AN: What goes into creating a new concept for the collection?
BL: Creating a new restaurant begins with a special location. Our goal is to connect people in a way that fills their needs and builds a sense of pride in the immediate area. We find it critical to listen to our guests and do our best to put forth an effort that not only satisfies people, but inspires them as well.
AN: How does the menu come together at a new concept?
BL: The menu comes together as a collaborative process between our culinary team and myself. It always begins with a strong vision for the concept. Once the vision is established, different versions of a prototype menu are written and discussed throughout training and even after we are open. We are always looking for opportunities to put new energy into the details.
AN: Why do you think your concepts have been so successful?
BL: The businesses have been successful because we treat each new place that we open as if it’s the only one we have. No two of our places are the same. It’s about not taking anything for granted and striving to improve every day.
AN: What are your favorite menu items?
BL: We are very proud of all of our menu items and see them as related. Every time we do a new dish, it’s part of an evolution of our culture as a whole. We have new seafood paella at Chelsea’s Kitchen that we are all excited about. That is why we are proud of the variety of items that we are able to make from scratch within the organization – from our breads, pastries, and pizzas, to our gelato. Our restaurant menus span from approachable breakfast fare to the carefully curated seafood from around the world, which is flown in daily at Buck &Rider.
AN: Buck &Rider is the newest addition to LGO Hospitality. What’s the story behind this restaurant?
BL: The vision for Buck &Rider began as a seafood and prime, grass-fed steak-focused sister restaurant to Chelsea’s Kitchen. Chelsea’s Kitchen is a Southwest restaurant in an old adobe brick building serving decidedly Latin-influenced food. At Buck &Rider, we want to emphasize the quality of the ingredients more simply and draw inspiration from the big city and cosmopolitan dining cultures around the country. My business partner, Adam Strecker, is from New Orleans – an incredible dining town – and the bold flavors and attitude of his heritage at Buck &Rider become apparent.
AN: What’s next for LGO Hospitality? Are there any new concepts on the horizon?
BL: We are always exploring new opportunities in our current markets and elsewhere. In addition to building on and evolving our existing concepts in Phoenix and Los Angeles, we are constantly searching for new areas that are ideal environments for our continued growth.