PUBlic Legacy carries on at the Stadium Promenade in Orange
Friends and business partners chef Gerry Kent and Chad Dickey are not new to the restaurant business. They’ve been in it for eight years with places like PUBlic House in Temecula, Downtown PUBlic in Murrieta and PUBlic 74 in San Juan Capistrano.
Their latest venture, PUBlic Legacy at the Stadium Promenade in Orange, is a way for those restaurants to carry on and also evolve.
“We definitely took a different direction with this one,” said Dickey. “When the light said turn right, we went left.”
The 174-seat restaurant serves comfort food with craft cocktails, beer and wine, and while that may not seem like a stretch from the other concepts in the series of PUBlic restaurants, Kent said PUBlic Legacy aims to move away from the gastro-pub style and into a more modern version of itself.
“It is nice to make a switch. Gastro pubs are cool, but they started in 2004 or 2005,” said Kent. “Once we landed on PUBlic Legacy sticking as the name, we knew it would be a culmination of all my experience, all of Chad’s experience, everything that we have done or wanted to do.”
The restaurant has two distinct areas with tufted booths along the walls, dark walnut tables and velvet chairs surrounding a 30-seat bar. Former employees were commissioned for the original artwork in the restaurant, and some of the tables are made from an old tree removed from Kent’s Temecula property. Behind the bar is the library, a more intimate section that still feels connected to the restaurant.
“The concept of this room used to be a private dining area in the previous restaurant, so when we decided to blow the wall open with the bar, it was evident there was something that we needed to do different to still draw people back there,” Dickey said.
The space is darker and moodier, ideal for a more romantic dinner date.
The menu features classic dishes like a chili and coffee-rubbed rib eye steak and the legacy smash burger made of a house blend of beef and pork with cheddar and caramelized onion. PUBlic restaurant favorites also make their way onto the menu, like the tomato addiction, consisting of small cast-iron pan filled with herb-seasoned tomato, crushed garlic cloves and balsamic reduction and served with a wedge of St. Andre brie and toasted house sourdough.
But Kent has also created more vegan and vegetarian options, like a vegan mac and cheese.
“It is cashew-based, and I used kogi rice with nutritional yeast and that is really the base line,” Kent said. “And then we added caramelized shallots to give it that french onion soup kick that brings your brain to the cheesy goodness you expect from that.”
Kent’s wife is vegan and he said it has given him more opportunities to experiment with plant-based dishes.
“You practice a little more often when have someone that is interested in eating that,” said Kent, “and my kids aren’t vegan so when I do make something, I have to really bring it.”
The vegan mac and cheese has been a hit so far, Kent said.
“I had the staff try it, and they were like, this is better than the regular mac,” said Kent. “It is always good to land upon something that people respond to like that.”
PUBlic Legacy will also be open for brunch daily, with familiar breakfast dishes like a signature breakfast sammy with house-made sausage, tomato, egg and cheddar and more vegetarian options, like the vegan eggs Benedict made with mushrooms, tofu and charred tomato over biscuits and finished with “hollindays” sauce.
Kent and Dickey hope Orange diners can find something to connect with on the menu and maybe find an unexpected favorite that can’t be found elsewhere.
“Being in this big center provides us an opportunity to be a little individual here among the chains,” said Kent.
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