New lions choice location

Why Lion’s Choice thinks the second time's the charm in KC

Why Lion’s Choice thinks the second time's the charm in KC

Lion’s Choice failed at its first attempt to expand to the Kansas City market in 1999. But this time around, the St. Louis-based fast-food chain is counting on roaring success.

Its two area locations in Independence and Olathe have exceeded sales expectations, and the prototype building design and expansion strategy represents the company’s “best thinking to date,” CEO Mike Kupstas told the Kansas City Business Journal.

In November, Lion’s Choice plans to open a store in Overland Park, and by year’s end or early January, it plans to open a Liberty location followed by one in Lee’s Summit in mid-2020. It’s aiming for a 10- to 12-restaurant presence locally and wants to reach 65% of that goal within three years, he said.

Challenges during first expansion

When Lion’s Choice first ventured outside St. Louis in 1999, it started with a restaurant in Overland Park near 119th Street and Metcalf Avenue. Plans to expand beyond the lone location never came to fruition, and the restaurant closed three years after opening.

“At the time, the management and the owners hadn’t had experience with that kind of expansion, and they were mostly franchised,” Kupstas said.

So it was up to individuals, some of whom didn’t have restaurant experience, to build out the brand in a remote market. The Overland Park restaurant was like an island, he said, and it wasn’t backed by the right marketing or systems in place to make it viable; it lacked structure. A single restaurant couldn’t generate enough energy for the brand, he said.

What’s different this time

This time around, all of the area stores are company-owned. It’s akin to putting your money where your mouth is, Kupstas
said. Plus, Lion’s Choice opened its two area locations about three months apart and has three locations under letters of
intent. The progress far outweighs what happened years ago. And Lion’s Choice now is applying all of the lessons it has
learned through 52 years of operation, he said.“

We’re feeling really good about (our two restaurants), and it’s giving us confidence in why we’re building those next three
restaurants right now,” he said.

During a recent visit, Kupstas met a customer at the Olathe restaurant who first tried Lion’s Choice years ago in St. Louis. He
now eats at the Olathe location about four times a week.

“Don’t let these go away,” he told Kupstas.

New start, new look

For its do-over in the Kansas City market, Lion’s Choice introduced a prototype building that creates a “more iconic look.” “It doesn’t look like a rectangular box,” he said. “It doesn’t just blend into the landscape. … It makes you take a second look.” It features a shed roof that overhangs on the front and an image of a lion gracing a tower.

Leslie Collins
Staff Writer
Kansas City Business Journal

No Tricks, All Treats: Hand Out Wooden Coins for Mini Cones at Lion’s Choice This Halloween

(ST. LOUIS; October 16, 2019): Lion’s Choice, the St. Louis-based family of restaurants known for their famous roast beef sandwiches, crave-worthy fries, and frozen custard, introduces a delicious substitution for candy hand-outs this Halloween. Lion’s Choice now offers $5 packs of 25 wooden coins, each redeemable for a free mini custard cone at any Lion’s Choice restaurant. Guests can purchase the Halloween wooden coin packs now through Thursday, October 31, 2019, at any Lion’s Choice location in the St. Louis Metro.

Lion’s Choice mini cone is famous for a reason, made with creamy vanilla custard in a bite-sized waffle cone. Kids who receive the Lion’s Choice trick-or-treat token can make the excitement of receiving sweets last a little longer as the token has no expiration date so recipients can redeem their treat at any time.

“Parents have kept a watchful eye on the candy provided to their children during Halloween for years, and now with added concerns of dietary restrictions and allergies, we wanted to offer a safe and easy way for everyone to celebrate. Packs of tokens for Lion’s Choice mini coins offer a safe alternative that kids will love, and an easy item for adults to pick-up before their festivities,” says Michael Kupstas, President and CEO of Lion’s Choice.

The mini cone has been a Lion’s Choice fan favorite since the first restaurant opened in St. Louis more than 51 years ago.  The iconic brand’s custard has creamier consistency and it’s served at the perfect soft-serve temperature to ensure that it melts in your mouth as soon as you take a bite. Guests have the option to get their cones as traditional vanilla ($.25) or chocolate dip ($.50 for a mini cone).

Lion’s Choice also offers large cones, concretes, sundaes, shakes, root beer floats, and freezes on the menu.

For more information about the redeemable wooden coins at Lion’s Choice, please visit here. Each pack of the 25 Lion’s Choice tokens are available for $5 (per pack) now through October 31, 2019 at Lion’s Choice restaurants across the St. Louis metropolitan area.

About Lion’s Choice: Founded in 1967, Lion’s Choice has become an iconic St. Louis restaurant brand. Now with almost 30 locations, Lion’s Choice is known for their famous roast beef sandwiches, crave-worthy fries and frozen custard. The real beef is slow-roasted fresh every day for over three hours, made to order, and sliced thin with a dash of seasoning on a buttered and toasted bun. The signature sandwich is made with 100% lean beef – high quality, top round of beef. Lion’s Choice is dedicated to the highest-quality ingredients, an elevated quick-serve experience, and honest-to-goodness awesome food. The over 50-year legacy continues today due to the care of the LC team. Guests have a unique ability to customize their order at Lion’s Choice from the rareness of the beef to the bun. Lion’s Choice has locations throughout Missouri as well as Western Illinois and Kansas City areas. For the most up-to-date information, visit or share your Lion’s Choice roar on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @lionschoice.