Thunderdome Restaurant Group Creates Relief Fund for Employees Impacted by Restaurant Closures

All proceeds from the sales of Thunderdome Restaurant Group gift cards through March 31 will go directly to their employees

click to enlarge Pepp & Dolores - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Pepp & Dolores


Day after day, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to develop as restaurants, food workers and other businesses deal with the ordered temporary closings of their dine-in operations. For many, the future is unclear as the timeline placed on social distancing is unknown. As the unprecedented situation continues to develop, and workers and employers continue to struggle, one local restaurant group is doing what they can to help their team members and employees during this time of uncertainty with a newly announced relief fund.

Thunderdome Restaurant Group owns and operates several Queen City favorite eateries — Pepper & Dolores, Maplewood Bar & Kitchen, The Eagle and CityBird, to name a few.

At the beginning of this pandemic, Thunderdome implemented carry-out orders for their establishments to help keep their team members working — it’s what most restaurants around the country have had to do in order to keep their operations going. But in a recent press release, Thunderdome stated that the system of carry-out only isn’t enough to keep their restaurants and employees financially comfortable, and they’ve recently had to furlough over 1,300 of workers.

“We want to thank the community for stepping up and coming out to pick up food at our locations this week,” said Alex Blust, Thunderdome Restaurant Group co-founder, in the release. “But after looking carefully at the numbers, we realized that even this is unsustainable given the scale and uncertainty surrounding this health crisis.”

To avoid more layoffs and help keep their team members financially comfortable, the company’s founders have started the We Are Thunderdome Relief Fund. 

Thunderdome founders Blust, Joe Lanni and John Lanni announced they will be indefinitely donating their salaries to help combat the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their workers. In addition to the salary donations, all proceeds from the sales of Thunderdome Restaurant Group gift cards through March 31 will go directly to their employees. 

Despite the recent hardships, Thunderdome is confident the relief fund will help their team members and establishments bounce back.

“We know that when the dust has settled, the Thunderdome team is strong enough and our restaurants are popular enough to come back blazing,” said co-founder Joe Lanni. “I’m hoping that the We Are Thunderdome Relief Fund will make a difference in our team members lives during this tough period and when it is over, our team will be at the restaurants ready to show our gratitude.”

To contribute to the We Are Thunderdome Relief Fund and help support local food workers, visit tdome.com/gift-cards





Thunderdome Restaurant Group, the team behind Maplewood Bar and Kitchen, Pepp & Dolores, The Eagle, Bakersfield and more, have created a relief fund for its employees. In a release, it says 1,300 of them have been impacted "by the government mandated end of dine-in service and subsequent closure of restaurants in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."

To kick off the We Are Thunderdome Relief Fund, company founders Joe Lanni, John Lanni and Alex Blust, will donate their salaries until further notice. In addition, all proceeds from the sale of Thunderdome Restaurant Group gift cards from today through March 31 will go directly toward the fund and all profits will end up in the hands of their team members.

“This week we had to make the impossibly hard decision to furlough over 1300 team members. The reality of the restaurant industry is that without open restaurants and a revenue stream, we cannot afford to continue operations,” says Joe Lanni, Thunderdome Restaurant Group Co-Founder. “We’re forced to circle the wagons for now to make sure everyone has a job to come back to on the other side of this.”

In an attempt to continue to serve the community, and keep as many team members employed as they could, Thunderdome scrambled to rethink their business model and offer carryout at all Currito and Citybird locations as well as The Eagle.  

“We want to thank the community for stepping up and coming out to pick up food at our locations this week,” says Alex Blust, Thunderdome Restaurant Group Co-Founder. “But after looking carefully at the numbers, we realized that even this is unsustainable given the scale and uncertainty surrounding this health crisis.” 

Thunderdome, which started offering a curbside-friendly menu out of The Eagle OTR location on Tuesday, is ceasing carryout and closing all remaining locations by Friday, March 20 at 8 pm.

“We appreciate the absolute outpouring of support we’ve experienced from the Cincinnati community since this all began,” says John Lanni, Thunderdome Restaurant Group Co-founder. “We hope everyone comes out to get their fix before we temporarily close our doors at The Eagle, Currito and CityBird.”

Though Joe Lanni is heartbroken by the hardship his team members and everyone in the hospitality industry is experiencing, he’s confident in the overall health of the company and with Thunderdome’s ability to bounce back after this crisis draws to a close.

“We know that when the dust has settled, the Thunderdome team is strong enough and our restaurants are popular enough to come back blazing,” Joe Lanni says. “I’m hoping that the We Are Thunderdome Relief Fund will make a difference in our team members lives during this tough period and when this is over, our team will be at the restaurants ready to show you our gratitude.”

To purchase a gift card, visit www.tdome.com/gift-cards. All Currito and CityBird locations will continue with carryout and third party delivery and Eagle OTR will continue serving their curbside menu through Friday, March 20 from 11 am - 8 pm. 

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