Successful Dubuque restaurant to branch out with new West End offering

A married couple with a successful Thai restaurant in Dubuque soon will open a second venture in a neighboring storefront.

Lina’s Lounge will open at 2055 Holliday Drive next month, according to co-owner Gordon Gao.

The name of the new offering was inspired by the name of Gao’s wife, Lina Qiu, who also serves as co-owner of Lina’s Thai Bistro. The two ventures will be located in a pair of spaces at opposite ends of the same shopping center, located just off Northwest Arterial on Dubuque’s West End.

While the monikers of the two offerings are similar, the concepts employed in the two spaces will be noticeably different.

“This will be more focused as a sports bar,” Gao said. “We will have tap beers and a lot of drink options, big-screen TVs all around and pool tables.”

Lina’s Lounge will occupy the former home of Signature Health & Fitness, which closed its doors at the end of 2020.

Gao and Qiu are undertaking major renovations to transform the space for its future use, including redoing the plumbing and electrical work, building a new bar and installing booths and other seating.

Lina’s Lounge will feature 40 tap beers upon opening. It also will serve a variety of other drinks, including margaritas and martinis.

The lounge will have a small kitchen and serve a variety of bar food, such as wings, pizza and burgers. Customers also will be able to order food from Lina’s Thai Bistro and bring it into the lounge.

“The idea is to create more choice for the customer,” Qiu said.

The opening of Lina’s Lounge will represent the beginning of a new chapter for a couple who already has made their mark on the local dining scene.

Gao and a friend originally opened a restaurant about a decade ago under the name Tantra. The name was changed to Lina’s Thai Bistro in 2014, when Qiu became co-owner.

The eatery has built a loyal following ever since, a reality that came into focus even more clearly during the pandemic.

“I love all my customers,” Qiu said. “For so many years, they always come back. Even with COVID, when they couldn’t dine here, they would place orders to go.”

As the couple prepares to open a new offering in Dubuque, Gao also reflected on the success of Lina’s Thai Bistro.

“I cannot say we are surprised,” he said. “We appreciate all the support. We work very hard, and we have put in long hours to get to where we are.”

He thinks Lina’s Lounge can offer a different experience, giving customers a louder and livelier environment that complements the more peaceful and serene nature of dining at the Thai bistro.

Gao and Qiu plan to hire at least 10 new workers to staff Lina’s Lounge. They anticipate that figure could grow to 15 or 20 shortly after the lounge opens.

Gao anticipates that on a typical day, Lina’s Lounge will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight. The lounge also will feature outdoor seating, which the owners hope will make it a popular place in the summer months.

“Our hope is that people will come eat dinner at Lina’s (Thai Bistro) and then come over to the lounge and get a drink after,” Gao said.

Gao said Lina’s Lounge definitely will be open prior to Thanksgiving, but an official date has not been established. Updates will be posted to