The Trispan-backed chain has taken the former Byron unit on 242 Earls Court Road, with an anticipated April opening.
CEO Paul Gilchrist, who joined Thunderbird at the tail end of 2019, tells BigHospitality's sister site MCA that lots of work has gone into reworking the brand into a more fast-casual, evening-friendly proposition, and away from its street food, QSR roots.
“It’s a relaunch of the brand really," he says.
"I came on board 14 months ago, and it had lost its way a bit, it hadn’t really had the leadership, and the branding wasn’t quite right.
“Bringing street food onto the high street is not an easy change to make, but we’ve spent the last year honing it and getting it in line with how we wanted it.
“It is Thunderbird version 2.0, the relaunch. It will be the first one that will show the new look and feel of the brand and our direction going forward.”
Gilchrist says the idea was to create a more evening-friendly environment, with longer dwell time, and craft beer.
“We’re moving away from the QSR field to more fast casual. It’s that world where there’s a lot of brands living in now, people don’t really want to sit down for three courses like a casual brand, but they still want great food, and they might want wings and a desert.”
During the lockdown, Thunderbird has accelerated its move into delivery-only kitchens.
Last week the group launched it's third dark kitchen location, in Croydon; its first venture into the suburbs of the capital.
“It’s been fantastic for us as a brand," adds Gilchrist.
"But it’s not easy to go into, the assumption is you just open up a dark kitchen and it works. You have to really work hard and get the visibility, it takes time to build up and awareness
“It works within our format as a brand. Delivery is a big part of our DNA, and the food travels well as well which is important.”
Thunderbird's restaurant portfolio currently includes sites in Charing Cross and The O2, as well as a unit at Pergola Paddington.
In February last year, prior to the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the group closed its original bricks and mortar restaurant in Brixton, with Trispan operating partner Robin Rowland describing Thunderbird at the time as a 'work in progress'.