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Ruby's Diner to open fast-casual Ruby's Dinette [The Orange County Register :: ]
[July 16, 2014]

Ruby's Diner to open fast-casual Ruby's Dinette [The Orange County Register :: ]

(Orange County Register (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 16--Nostalgic favorite Ruby's Diner is tweaking its brand to keep up with national restaurant trends.

The Irvine-based chain, known for its iconic 1940s decor and all-American grub, has washed ashore in Maui for a second time. But, this time, the diner is introducing a new concept -- Ruby's Dinette.

Opened June 27 in Whalers Village in the town of Lahaina, this new restaurant strays from the 1940s red vinyl booths and white formica tables that made the company a California classic. Instead it embodies features of a 1960s Los Angeles coffee shop with a Googie-style motif -- complete with lava lamps, a Sputnik clock, amoeba-shaped cutouts and circle patterns.

Keeping it local, the new "dinette" is decorated with vintage Maui posters. The menu offers traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner items such as shakes, burgers and sandwiches, but ties in island-themed food including an ahi burger, macadamia nut-white chocolate chip hotcakes and pina colada shakes.

Service is also fast-casual -- customers order at the front counter and are served at their table. Ruby's plans to create more counter-service concepts on the mainland.

___ O.C. locals take notice: The Ruby's Diner on 17th Street in Costa Mesa is expected to rebrand under the fast-casual format this summer, company officials said.

The reformated restaurant, the first in Orange County, will be renamed Ruby's Dinette. A licensed "dinette" restaurant also opened recently in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino.

Company founder and chief executive Doug Cavanaugh said the Costa Mesa location will act as an "R&D kitchen" for the rest of the brand. Besides Ruby's classics (burgers, sandwiches, salads), expect new items such as breakfast burritos, eggs Benedict and tap beers.

The rebranded location will also be selling Marianne's ice cream. The Santa Cruz favorite is known for its richness (16 percent butterfat, to be exact). Ruby's locations in Laguna Beach and at the Huntington Beach pier started selling the ice cream this year.

Flavors at Ruby's include the Marianne's signature flavor and fan favorite, "10-20," which consists of caramel ice cream, fudge and Oreo cookies. Other flavors include northern Oregon blackberry, mint chip, coffee almond fudge, vanilla bean, chocolate, strawberry and Rainbow Sherbet.

___ A recent drive-by of Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles in Anaheim revealed that the restaurant looks "close" to finished. The uber-secretive Los Angeles institution has not answered repeated requests for an opening date. Its Anaheim location, near Disneyland, has been in the works for two years.

Much of the problem appeared to be tied to parking. The repaved lot had plenty of new handicap slots, and a lift system in place for stacking cars. A snarky security guard told a passerby peeking at the restaurant: "You'll know it is open when you see people eating here." That's helpful. The restaurant is at 2110 S. Harbor Blvd. near Orangewood Avenue.

___ _Tap Shack in Newport Beach and Tap House in Huntington Beach have closed. The sports bars opened two years ago with a unique self-serving beer tap system that charged by the ounce.

According to information posted on the restaurant's website, the Huntington Beach location was forced to close amid a legal dispute it is having with its landlord, Huntington Partners. Local real estate developer Frank Jao is named in the lawsuit.

The Newport Beach location closed due to a lease dispute with its landlord, which is different from the one in Huntington Beach.

_If you're craving buttery breadsticks by the operators of the old Pat & Oscar's, you're out of luck.

O's American Kitchen, the rebranded name of Pat & Oscar's, has closed its final Orange County location. The restaurant in Orange shut down over the July 4 weekend, according to marketing representative Terri Henry.

"The lease came up for renewal and they couldn't come to an agreement on renewing it with the landlord," Henry said.

On top of that, the restaurant continued to experience "challenges" tied to the 2012 rebranding. Pat & Oscar's, known for its breadsticks and family-style rib, chicken and pizza meals, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy three years ago.

During that time, individual owners of Pat & Oscar's restaurants in Southern California began to distance themselves from the chain. The group rebranded its restaurants under the name O's American Kitchen in 2012. Last year, an O's American Kitchen in Santa Ana near South Coast Plaza also closed.

The seven other Southern California locations remain open, Henry said. Some of the restaurants in the San Diego area are revising their menu with "bolder" flavors, she said.

___ Contact the writer: Got a tip on a restaurant opening or closing? Email Nancy Luna at ___ (c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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