clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

OC’s Newest Gastropub Is a Massive Restoration Project 71 Years in the Making

Orange’s new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations is all brick, neon, and historic details

A neon-lit bar at dusk, showing open windows and patio tables wrapped in brick.
Bosscat Kitchen & Libations
GBH Photo Works

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.

A wood-lined former warehouse turned into a bar with blue long banquettes.
A wood-wrapped warehouse bar with barrels for tables.
A long wooden bar with neon behind it inside of a warehouse space.
A large communal table of wood with neon on the walls and red seats.
A sitting lounge area with plush seats and whiskey cabinets.
An outdoor dark wood table at a new restaurant that glows from beyond.
The daytime corner patio of a new restuarant with dark tables and old gas pumps.
A tilted look at a corner bar with open seating on a patio out front, wrapped all in neon.

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations

118 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Los Angeles newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world