For a tiny area, we have had a lot of restaurants over the years.  I started compiling a list on a whim and help from locals on the Facebook Rossmoor page.  The lists got too long so I broke them up into multiple posts.    The first was the restaurants of the Rossmoor Shopping Center.  The third segment will be Los Al restaurants On the Boulevard, and the fourth will be the restaurants on Katella, etc.  

Rossmoor Village 

Northern Rossmoor — the homes north of a line formed by Rossmoor Way and Silverwood — was the third part of Rossmoor to be built, with most construction happening in 1959 or later.  Never considered for housing was the entire block from Hedwig to Katella,  Los Al Blvd to Wallingsford.  On early drawings and plans this was clearly labeled as the Rossmoor Medical Park (although one plan just says commercial development).

Ross Cortese conceived the area as a place for medical offices, a hospital and some supporting businesses — pharmacy, restaurants, etc.   He said as much when the Anaheim School District wanted the site for a junior high school site.  Cortese offered them the site where St. Hedwig Church is now, but county planners wouldn’t approve a public school that close to the Navy Base airfield. Cortese and the Anaheim district quickly eventually settled on the present Oak School site. 
    So, clear of these issues, Cortese, his investing partners, (the Los Coyotes Land Co.) and some local doctors formed the Rossmoor Medical Park Corporation to develop the center.  The first building — where the Fish Company is now — went up in 1962.  It soon became apparent to some that 1) Cortese wanted too much money for his hospital plan; and the site may be too small for a hospital anyway.  Whatever the case, by 1963, the doctors were looking a few blocks down Katella to build a hospital.   
    Also, by this time, Cortese was far more involved with his expanding Leisure World empire, and other challenges for his Rossmoor vision.   So the Medical Park concept went away and Cortese began selling off all his undeveloped Rossmoor land.  Sometime in 1963, Cortese sold the chunk of land that is now Bethlehem Lutheran Church (it was open by March 1964).  I assume he sold the land for the Rossmoor Manor apartments soon after this.  The apartments had a sneak preview in August 1966, so I think a year and half to two years is a not unreasonable amount of time to figure hiring an architect, and engineer, make drawings, get approvals and then construct. By May 1965, newspapers report that Westport Oil had purchased all the land for what is now Rossmoor Village from Ross Cortese and his partners, the Lakewood Ranchos and Los Coyotes Land Co. and Westport had already begun construction on their own Firestone Tire store and repair shop.  Without Cortese’s vision, the Medical Park and the Rossmoor Center both were developed haphazardly by the new owners with little vision beyond making a buck.       

Eventually, the center would basically have five sections. The first two were developed under Cortese.  The first building (built 1962) is the building now occupied by the Fish Company and the second (1963) is the building now occupied by Polly’s, the Boot Barn, and the Family Medicine practice.  The rest were built after the change of ownership and over the 1965-1970 ime frame.     

    As I said in my article on the Rossmoor Center eateries, this is a work in progress.  I didn’t grow up here so I don’t have those early memories.  But I have tried to use newspaper articles or published company histories to verify time frames as accurately as possible. If you have information (or photos) to add, feel free to comment or contact me.   Anyway, here goes.   

Not sure exactly when this photo was taken but I would guess mid-to-late 1980s.  The Drug Fair sign is faintly visible undeneath the T-shirt Stop sign.  I believe the The E-Z Frame-It shop was soon replaced by the wig store.  

Park Pantry (1962-1980) 11061 Los Alamitos Blvd (present Fish Co. site) – was the first non-gas station business at this shopping area.  It was about the sixth of 8 or so Park Pantrys owned by Glenn O. Sadler. The first was in LB.  The pantry was a coffee shop which, according to marketing articles, would share space with a pharmacy, and a liquor-delicatessen.  A late night fire damaged the restaurant in late 1964, but it re-opened and was still at this location as of Sep. 20, 1974.  Now it’s all the Fish Co.

This ad ran in the News-Enterprise’s 1987 salute to the Rancho Los Alamitos 200th anniversary.  Note that it read the Los Alamitos Fish Company.  It changed its name to the Original Fish Company the following year.  

Original Fish Co. (1981-      11061 11061 – Los Alamitos Blvd.  This originally opened in February 1981 as the Los Alamitos Fish Company.  Harold Rothman, who had grown up in the restaurant business at his parents Katella Deli on the opposite side of the Rossmoor Village center, gutted a former coffee shop, (Park Pantry), redesigned it and reopened it as a combination restaurant and fish market.  Managed by Harold and his wife, Wendy Rothman, and after their divorce she took it over,. Her daughter Vanessa Travis has been managing it for a number of years.  Steve Meisner, Wendy’s brother, was the manager for many years in the 1980s.   They changed the name to Original Fish Company in 1988. Around 2005, the Rothmans had purchased most of the Rossmoor Village site from the D.D., Dunlap Co., and terminated the lease for Deux Amies and used that space for their restaurant offices.  A few years later, when the Fio Ritos lease expired, Fish Company used that space to expand their oyster bar which immediately became quite popular.   

Fio Ritos (c.1966-c2014) – 11101 Los Alamitos Boulevard – per Ted Thomey’s Table Talk column in LB Press-Telegram, Fio-Rito’s opened in late 1964, (another source says January 1965) as Fio-Rito’s Pizza Villa by Leonard and Margie Fio-Rito who already had a location at Del Amo and Paramount in North Long Beach.   The place quickly became a local favorite and Fio-Rito soon expanded, taking over an office (or was it the Post Office’s mail box annex) behind his streetfront location.  Locally, Fio Rito’s and Davio’s probably competed for the title of most authentic Italian food for many years.  In 1977 the Fio-Ritos retired and sold their three restaurants.  Pat and Phyllis Loughran bought the Rossmoor location and owned it for 35 years until his death in 2012.  In the mid-1980s Pat and Phyllis were joined by her son, Ken Skinner and his wife Cecily.  (They had previously run a restaurant called The Sly Fox in Northern California and then around 1982-82, opened another Sly Fox Restaurant in the Rossmoor Center.  That only lasted a few years and then they began helping out with the management of Fio-Ritos.)  The “front” of the restaurant was very narrow (about 20 feet)  but in the back, the expanded area was about  40 feet wide.  

Drug Fair (1964-c1990) – We would be remiss to leave Drug Fair out.  What self-respecting drug store wouldn’t have a decent selction of candy and other snacks.  But as Art Remnet points out Drug Fair also “held the post office for 90721.  When Drug Fair build the new building across the street where the car wash and Nevin’s were. Nevin’s moves back in along with the other shops there.  The postal service leased the old drug fair space and used it for the PO Box annex while the current post office was being built. When the new facility was complete, the post office moved the boxes and took the zip code with them.”  I get the post office part but the car wash part confused me.  

Charo Chicken (2000-c.2008) – 11105 Los Alamitos Blvd. owned by Steve Meisner, who had previously been a manager at the nearby Fish Company, not to mention a Los Al native and former member of the Los Alamitos Mounted Police. [Of course, the original Charo was on Main Street in Seal Beach, and this was one of its earliest attempts at franchising. It did OK, but Steve and Mo    

Blake’s Place (2010-2016) – 11105 Los Alamitos Blvd. This was a second location for Blake’s, a popular Anaheim BBQ joint.  This one was co-owned by Mike ___, wh also owned Domenico’s on 2nd Street in Long Beach.  

Off the Hook – 11105 Los Alamitos Blvd. 

Katella Deli & Bakery — 3464 Katella Avenue (1964 – 1985, moved 10 blocks east to Katella & Lexington]  Opened by Sam and ___ Ratman.  Also working there were their three sons, Harold, Alan and Larry.  Harold would later open the Original Fish Company in 1985 in the old Park Pantry location. 

Jongewaard’s Bake and Broil – 3464 Katella Avenue – (c1986-1988) an offshoot of the original Jongewaard’s in Bixby Knolls. [still there and still getting great reviews]  

Polly’s Pies – 3464 Katella Avenue –  (by Sep 1989 – present)  –   opened are in the old Katella Deli location as early as September 1989.  [They were not there as of July 7 of that year] The restaurant was started in Fullerton in 1970 by the Sheldrake Brothers.  The Katella location was their 12th. 

Michael’s Markets – 3462 Katella Avenue –  located on the site of the current Boot Barn.  This site was open as early as July 1965.  Michaels was a new Orange County chain.  Los Al was its second operation but by 1971 it had 12 in OC alone and many others outside the county.  They may have expanded too fast because the site was up for auction in September 1973.




Stater Bros. Markets – 3462 Katella Avenue – The Oct. 11, 1973 issue of the Press-Telegram ran a full page ad proudly announcing State Bros. newest location at this address.  Stater Bros stayed here for 11 years before ending the lease, and in May 1984 the site was taken over by another “supermarket” — The Thieves Market, the supermarket of boots.  This later became The Boot Barn.



 

The Sportsman – 11133 Los Alamitos Blvd.  (opened April 1, 1967)   hard to believe but this place started as a classy Vegas style (piano bar, trios) club in mid 1960s.  “Opened by attorney Jerry Stevenson, oil mogul Dan Dunlap, and Lever Bros. exec Norm Sorenson. “

Juice Stop (there in 1997

O.J.’s Drive In – 11151 Los Alamitos Blvd.    – per Jamie Lumm: “
OJ’s “was a hamburger place that was also the only place that had soft serve ice cream at the time. It opened about 1967 or so and only lasted a few years.

Taco Pronto – 11151 Los Alamitos Blvd.  (listed in 1968 Chamber Directory)

West’s Cafe (is this the samesite as OJ’s drive in?)

Tong’s Satay House – 11151 Los Alamitos Blvd.  An ad in the 35th anniversary Rossmoor special edition says theynhave been in Rossmoor for 22 years (since 1970).  An ad in am October 1973 Long Beach paper implies they recently opened.  Jimmy and   Tong, from Hong Kong, but had opened Chinese restauramts in London and elsewhere.  Satay was an indonesian sauce.  – 

Fortune Cookies – 11151 Orangewood  (opened around 2003 or 4 and hasn’t done too bad for itself.

One thought on “Food for Thought #2: Rossmoor Village”
  1. I remember OJ’s. It was a hamburger place that was also the only place that had soft serve ice cream at the time. It opened about 1967 or so and only lasted a few years.

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