Food for Thought #4: Los Al restaurants on Katella

The fourth of our series showing us how we have eaten our way through the Los Al-Rossmoor area over the years.  This time we check out the kabobs and quiches, etc. of Katella Avenue, working our way from East to West, starting at Walker (kind  of)

Katella – (East Los Alamitos)

On the Greens catering center at the Navy Golf Course.  Also previously called the Eagles Nest and probably 50 other different names before that.  .   And yes, we know it’s not on Katella (and you have to go in the baack way off Orangewood to get to it), but we didn’t know where else to put it.  

Costco – 5401 Katella Ave. – OK, we’ll admit this one is a stretch, but technically, it’s on what was once part of the Rancho Los Alamitos, and who in Los Alamitos or Rossmoor hasn’t snuck over there for a quick dog, polish or pizza?

Ricabob – 5350 Katella Avenue.    (opened around October 1979 “under ownership of Richard Pesce and Bob Farah. The theme is horse racing with paintings and etchings of classic racehorses throughout.”   It operated until at least October 1983.

Lechuga’s – 5350 Katella Avenue – as one reader wrote “I have never forgotten the tamales and homemade flan from a restaurant at the corner of Katella and Winners Circle named Lechuga’s.” There was a Lechuga’s in Hawaiian Gardens, and then this one was in Los Alamitos for a few years

The Rib Restaurant – 5350 Katella Avenue (July 1989 – 2001) –   They hosted professional meetings during the day.  Karaoke takes place Saturday nights at 9pm.  The place was still going strong in 1995 when Dr. Toot played some Big band jazz there.  Chein Lo was the owner.

John’s Cafe – 5350 Katella Ave. (Jan 2002 – Jul 2003)

Gourmet Pie –  5350 Katella Avenue –  (Mar 2004 – current) This eatery owned by the Richards family, originally opened on Ball Avenue in Cypress, just east of Bloomfield, but moved to this location in 2004 and has been rocking it ever since.

Alejandro’s –  5340 Katella Avenue (the spot where they built the big building that became Tilo’s, and then a Grateful Hearts thrift store)  Alejandro’s opened as early as Dec 1979. In Jan 1980 Rossmoor Women’s Club held some luncheon meetings there.  It bwas still open in 1984 and 1985 when Jim Rice and the Stagefright band were the regular house entertainment.   

The Bottle Shop & Spirits / Finish Line Food Store – 5084 Katella Ave. (directly across from the Race track entrance in the Starting  Gate center) 

There was a meat market at 5078 Katella (in the Starting Gate center).  A 1965 want ad lists “MEAT MKT, OC shopping center, Los Alamitos.  the store for sale.  Must sell at once!”  Any ideas?

Los Alamitos Turf Club – 5052 Katella Ave. For those who enjoy such arcane stuff, the track was considered to be in Los Alamitos until 1960 when the politics, greed, and the tempting lure of deferred taxes reared their combined ugly heads.  So we included it in our list.   

The Paddock  5052 Katella (1965c-1980)  Multiple references indicate The Paddock opened for business in 1965.  At the time its decor was nice enough that the Cypress Womens’ Club held monthly meetings there.  Its owner, Elmos Scheele, was robbed of $225 in August 1965.  Around 1970 it was bought by Rex Hovanian, who had recently left the navy.  A late December 1969 article about New Years Eve restaurant possibilities, noted that The Paddock featured “roast prime rib fit for a king, including a succulent, juicy slice of beef with soup, top-notch salad, baked potato and garlic toast.  $2.95.  His noodle soup with chunks of beef is worth the $1 a bowl.” 
     Hovanian apparently had a troubled relationship with the Los Al Police department.  In 1976 he filed suit against the city, saying that since he bought the place in 1970 the police had systematically “willfully, knowingly harassed and humiliated him, his employees and customers, costing him an estimated $270,000 in revenue, which went from $275,000 revenue in 1970 to about $145,000 in 1975.  Calling the police goofy, he said the police “think I’m with the underworld, and that a lot of gamblers, bagmen and underworld characters come in here. ” He also said the Los Al police had it in for the racetrackers since it’s in Cypress and they don’t get any money from it.”  In January 1980, Hovanian sold the bar to Kenny Brandyberry who renamed it The Starting Gate

Starting Gate – 5052 Katella Avenue  Kenny Brandyberry bought the Paddock in January 1980 and renamed it to The Starting Gate.  Amidst the urban Cowboy craze, the live country music of the Starting Gate made the club a little too popular according to neighbors, with weekend nights attracting as many as 400-500 people for a room capacity of 225.  He utilized a banquet room to handle the overflow, and instituted a $2 cover charge to keep out the wrong elements.  Still, the city held hearings .

The Hungry Hound  – 5008 Katella Avenue – (opened in 1967 – was still there in March 1975 when it was robbed of $60).  Apparently did a great business as people left the nearby Paddock and needed a good and greasy burger or dog to neutralize the excess tequila sunrises waiting to clang around in the brain the next morning.  (Was it still around when the Paddock became The Starting Gate?) 

Monnie’s Fine Foods – 5008 Katella Ave. (listed in 1968 Chamber Directory) 

Katella Garden – 5008 Katella (Dec 1992-Nov 2008)

Paul’s Place II – 5008 Katella Avenue

Classic Burgers – 5008 Katella  (2008-2017)  – The menu was very similar to Paul’s Place, and it seemed to have a loyal following.  The Business license said Classic Burger #8

Potholder Cafe 4 – (Late 2017-    )   5008 Katella Avenue – the fourth of four Potholder cafes opened by Los Al grad Kevin Pittsey.  This one he co-owns with long-time employee Veronica Gutierrez, who is the site manager.

La Salsa  –   4959 Katella Ave. –  (around 2006 

Aroma Italiano   — 4959 Katella Ave  (2013-2018).   – Yes, we know this restaurant is also technically in Cypress, but it has a Los Alamitos mailing address (go figure, another one of those Los Al oddities) so we included it.   Umberto Ortoli opened it in 2013, and sold it to Ken Lee in 2016.  and in early 2019 Bernardo  of Cafe Del Sol leased the site when he was forced to move from his Oak & Katella location. 

Cafe del Sol –  (2019 – ) 4959 Katella Ave. 

Coldstone’s – 4957 Katella Ave. 

Don’s Turf Motel Coffee Shop – 

Los Alamitos Country Club — 4561 Katella Ave, — (Ditto on the ‘Yes, we know it’s in Cypress’ thing).   Not only that, but the old Golf Course snack shack should also be included in here.

The Pub at Fiddler’s Green (on the military base) 

Between Lexington & Noel

Arrowhead Cafe – 4411 Katella Ave – lunch stand inside the Arrowhead Products campus,.  Katella Caterig Cafe in 2018.

Katella Bakery & Deli [at its current site from May 1985 – to present] — 4470 Katella Ave.  This establishment first opened in the Rossmoor Village Center (current location of Polly’s Pies) in 1964.  Everyone calls it the Katela Deli but its official name was the Katella Bakery-Deli-Restaurant. 

Video Time Pizza 4390 Katella Avenue (1975 – 1998)

Ganso Island Grill – 4390 Katella (at least since July 1998 – ) owned by Goichi Kazuko Tsukahara.

Natura Juice Bar & Acai Bowls – 4390 Katella 

Xtreme Sushi – 4348 Katella  (they’ve had a business license since at least 1995 – )

EspressSub, etc. – 4340 Katella Avenue – Nov. 2001-July 2002)

Coffee & Yogurt – 4340 Katella Avenue (Dec 2007-Jul 2008)

Cafe 629 & Sweet 16 Yogurt – 43340 Katella Ave. (Feb 2009 – Jun 2013)

Perk Place – coffee shop May 1997-2001)

City Sandwich Co. – 4280 Katella

Bahay Kawayan 4280 Katella Ave. (Nov 2009 – Bov 2012)

India Kitchen – 4280 Kitchen Ave. (Dec 2012 – Jan 2013)

Coconut Rabbit (c.2012) – 4280 Katella  – changed ownership in 2017

Do-Nut Hut – 4272 Katella 

Der Weinerschnitzel – 4240 Katella  ( Sep 2003 – Sep 2012)

Adelberto’s – 4240 Katella  (2012 – 

Between Noel & Bloomfield

Red Robin – 4232 Katella (at the corner of Noel) was advertising for chefs and saying opening soon in September 1985.   This was the second in OC – the first being at South Coast Plaza.  Festive food and drinks in a fun atmosphere.  Must not have been that muh fun although they were still open as of September 1987. 

The Good Earth –  4232 Katella Avenue – “They were first offering “health foods” in our area.”

Denny’s – 4232 Katella Avenue  – It was a Denny’s by 1996, when a guy robbed the joint and led police on a long chase up the 605 and along the 91 freeways.   And it was still serving up the Grand Slam breakfast for many a year after that.  

Edible Arrangements – 4230 Katella  

Subway – 4216 Katella Avenue 

Mega Health Food 4141 Katella Ave (May 1996-April 2000)

Between Bloomfield & Los Alamito Blvd. 

Sheldon’s Corner cafe (Hospital Coffee Shop)  3771 Katella #115, also 3851 Katella  – (since 2005 – current)located in the back (new corner) of the newer front medical building at Cherry & Katella.  

Margaux’s – 3771 Katella #115. (Jan 2004-April 2005)

The Hospital Cafeteria – 3751 Katella – Sodexo (the cafeteria in the Los Al Hospital proper) 

The Pasty Kitchen 3641 Katella Ave, (1963) – Pronounced PASS-tee.  A hot beef pie, almost like a turnover.  Opened by Bob Arnold who reportedly baked over one million pies in his first dozen years in business.  In 1977, the small pies were 70 cents while the large pies were $1.40.  Pasties are considered the “national dish” of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Romeo is the one preparing and passing out the pasties for a passel of years now.  

Pittsburg Broasted Chicken – 3671 Katella Avenue (Sept 1992 – current) – Owner: Jeong Shin

Tony Roma’s –  – 3642 Katella Avenue –  (July 1987-July 2007) The Los Alamitos entry for this popular franchise operation, it was also a favorite stop for workers who just got off duty at the base.  

Madera’s Steakhouse – 3642 Katella Avenue – (2006c-current) Art Garcia bought the Tony Roma site around 2006.  He struggled for a couple years — a terrible economy certainly didn’t help — but now this place is regarded by most of the local restaurant owners as the best steakhouse in town.   Santa Fe nachos or prime rib tacos during Happy Hour are a true treat.  

Top It Pizza – 3638 Katella Avenue .  Opened in May 2016 by a Rossmoor family.  

A Mustard’s ad from 1988 in a Tustin newspaper. 

Mustard’s – 3630 Katella Avenue.  This has been here a while (since 1986.  Ads showed other Mustard’s in LB and Tustin) , but around 2004 the Los Alamitos location was purchased by the family who had been operating  Champ’s at the Rossmoor center.  Those owners recently sold it and it is now under new ownership.   

McDonald’s – 3652 Katella  (there as early as 1978  

El Burrito Loco – 3620 Katella Avenue – (Nov 1989 – Aug 2013)

Rustic Eats (2015 – 3620 Katella Avenue  – opened around 2015.

Starbucks – 3575 Katella Avenue yes, a stretch but they do serve some sandwiches with that coffee.  

West of Los Alamitos Blvd. 

Conners Cafe – maybe the last Los Al restaurant with a hitching rack.   

Senor Taco – 3381 Katella (1 blk west of katella)  – (1968) 19 cents tacos every day.  

The Daily Grind – 3381 Katella Ave. (Oct 2000- June 2008) They also sold pastries under The Flying Pig and Scone corprate name from 2004 to 2005.

Original Grind – 3381 Katella Avenue 

Deacon Jones Chicken – 3391 Katella (1 blk west of Katella)

MacLean’s Meats – 3259 Meats (Oak Center)  (Nov 1968- 

Dee’s Coffee Shop – 3251 Katella (1968+ – 1970  (Oak Center)

The Feedbag – 3251 Katella Avenue 

Cafe Del Sol 3251 Katella Avenue ( 1997 – Nov 2018) owned and managed by Bernardo Cobian, a popular long-time chef at Russell’s, known for their great hamburgers.

Lunch Stop – 3131 Katella Ave. (1999-August 2011)Yang Noh, owner.

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