A big restaurant group in Orange County has expanded yet again, this time taking up residence inside an iconic storefront in the heart of Old Towne Orange. The former tenant, Rod’s Liquor, had existed on the same corner for more than 70 years before closing for good in January, paving the way for a new location of Bosscat Kitchen & Libations.
Orange County locals have long known Rod’s as a corner liquor store that expanded into a chain up and down the West Coast, ultimately growing to nearly two dozen locations per the Orange County Register. The Fraser family that founded Rod’s in 1949 even spun off into restaurants with Rodrigo’s Mexican Grill, which itself grew to more than a dozen outlets.
Locals might also recognize Bosscat Kitchen & Libations owners Leslie Nguyen and John Reed from their existing location on MacArthur Boulevard (along with sister restaurant Ten Asian Bistro) in nearby Newport Beach, though the broader company also has multiple restaurants in the Houston area. The redone 5,000 square foot Orange location, built by AO Architects and Platinum X Construction, opened at the end of March,
The plan, reps for the restaurant have told Eater, was to keep as much of the 100-year-old building intact as possible, and to honor the legacy of Rod’s along the way, in part by keeping some of the prior tenant’s old bits and baubles. There’s reclaimed wood from the old business used to make a table in a side room, artwork honoring the old ice machine, and lots of exposed brick and neon Rod’s signs hanging around. The Bosscat team also kept the glass block details and wide, open bays that open out to the sidewalk, a nod to the building’s previous pre-Rod’s life as an auto body shop.
The new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations is open now, keeping hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with an extension to 11 p.m. on Friday nights and an earlier brunch opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.