Red Lion Pub Adds New Venue, The Lion's Den

Inside Winter Park's New Venue, The Lion's Den
Rosemarie Ryan prepares hors d'oeuvres for The Lion's Den's soft opening. View the entire album, Making of the Lion's Den, here. Photo by: AJ Hege Photography

A boon to Orlando's growing local music community

Winter Park’s Red Lion Pub has established itself as a home for local music in the Orlando area, playing a part in the success of many of Orlando’s favorite musicians; Evan Taylor Jones, for example, used to play here weekly with his original band.

Artists of all types, including funk, folk, acoustic, electronic, reggae, and rock have played the stage over the years, not to mention the spellbinding performances by fire spinners and other prop manipulators on Tuesday nights.

A labor of love by the Ryan family and many others who have long been supporters of the pub, The Lion’s Den is shaping up to be a popular spot where local musicians and artists can exercise their talents in a welcoming environment.

Located near the intersection of Semoran Boulevard and Howell Branch Road and directly adjacent to the Red Lion Pub, it shoots straight back with a raised stage at the far end. A wall of mirrors on the right reflects a 40-foot mural on the left, an ongoing project that is the work of numerous artists and tells the story of the pub and its many beloved characters. Wooden drink rests run along both side walls.

It is a work in progress, but the soft opening on Sunday evening was a treat and got me excited for what is to come. I spoke briefly with Christian Ryan, son of the pub’s owner, Rosemarie Ryan, to learn more.

Christian has had a huge role in the pub’s thriving scene, nurturing it through booking and promotion, all while growing his own career as a sax player. You can find him playing regularly in various Florida cities with bands including Ancient Sun, Holey Miss Moley, Control This, and many others. He’s also played a big part in what’s happening in the new venue.

Can you share a little of what’s going to be coming up in The Lion’s Den?

This Friday, April 10, is the big day, the grand opening. We’re going to have some Red Lion staples; Leisure Chief, Holey Miss Moley, and The Groove Orient are going to be the bands. They all have a historic significance relating to Red Lion. For example, The Groove Orient played their very first show here. And then the DJ is VSN QST (Vision Quest). He’s actually the guy who puts together the Body//Talk events. They do a bunch of great things and I’m really excited to incorporate them a little bit into this.

Captain Green, they’re coming back on the 21st to Twisted Tuesday and they’re going to be playing with Holey Miss Moley and a band from New Smyrna called The Psychedelic Monks. Some other stuff, April 18 I have a DJ from Colorado who goes by Stone Soul. He does a lot of electro-funk. He’s going to be coming here on tour with a local band Meiuuswe, an organ/drum duo.

Slowly but surely a lot of things are going to be lined up. I have Tuesdays lined up prior, but right now I’m looking to do more quality than necessarily trying to fill up everything right away. But slowly, I think, especially after Friday when people see what we’re trying to do here, it’ll be a matter of time before we’ll be a vibrant venue.

What are you hoping to accomplish with this space?

Just overall, being a musician in the scene myself, I just really want to provide a space that’s accommodating to not only the locals, but to provide a place to improve Orlando’s reputation. Not that it’s a bad reputation, but Florida as a whole often times gets looked over, whether it’s a touring band or festivals or anything like that.

People just don’t know what’s here. There’s so much talent, between the musicians, and artists, and everything else, I really just want to help bring all that to light here.

I think between the community we have here and me being a musician that’ll be coordinating all this stuff, being hands-on in a lot of the different scenes, I think we can really do some special things here and help improve the regard of Orlando, help put Orlando more on the map. Orlando will be a place people won’t just skip over, or just think of Disney World. 

I grew up here, and until I saw a local band called Shak Nasti at Tanqueray’s when I was 18 years old, I had no idea of the music scene that was going on here, and I lived here. That boggles my mind how many people are here and don’t even know.

As someone who came from outside of Florida, I know exactly what you mean. Moving here I thought, “What am I going to do there? Are there going to be shows for me to go to? And then I came here and realized there’s stuff here just like anywhere else, but as an outsider looking in, I really had no idea what was going on. So you’re right to say that. 

How can we in the Red Lion Pub community and in the general Orlando community get involved in what’s going on here?

We’ll be launching a new website next week to go along with the grand opening,, where we’re going to have our live calendar and different things going on. Personally for me, any bands or artists or promoters or anything like that can contact me at

Other than that, anybody that really would like to be a part of it can reach us online or come out on a Tuesday night, check out Twisted Tuesday or anything else. We try to be a very community driven place where everybody has their say. Everybody has a place here. We try to really create a home environment. Anybody’s welcome. If anybody wants to be a part of it, just come on down.

It’s that simple. Twisted Tuesday, which started out as a small weekly gathering with just one fire performer and a few musicians, has grown exponentially into a weekly hot spot with dozens of fire spinners and popular local bands and DJs.

The crowd spills out into the parking lot, and plates are filled with the delicious meal Rosemarie has made for the week (just $2 a plate). Drinks served include domestic and imported beers, wine, and bottled cocktails at the cash only bar.

The feeling of community is strong and I'm always greeted with warm hugs and at least one, “Welcome home,” whenever I go. I believe that feeling is what has propelled Red Lion into popularity and now into this new space.

If you’re like me and hate the stress of going downtown, or if you just love good music, head on over to 3784 Howell Branch Road for a roaring good time.

Thandiwe Ogbonna is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. She writes for The Untz, and has written for,, and Home Grown Music Network.
Labels: , ,