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Bosscat Kitchen & Libations celebrates 10 years of good spirits

Founders John Reed and Leslie Nguyen in the dining room of the new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine.
Founders John Reed and Leslie Nguyen in the dining room of the new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine. Daily Dose Hospitality has grown to include not only Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, but TEN Sushi + Cocktail and Byblos Cafe as well.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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Last month, co-founders of Bosscat Kitchen & Libations John Reed and Leslie Nguyen celebrated the restaurant’s 10th anniversary with a party of a few close friends — 850 close friends, to be exact.

“The party was surreal, but we are beyond grateful to everyone who has supported us over these 10 years,” said Reed.

Bosscat, a whiskey bar concept the business partners started in Newport Beach in 2014, is just one brand in their newly named restaurant group, Daily Dose Hospitality. The parent company includes TEN Sushi + Cocktail, Byblos Cafe and Bosscat, with two locations of the latter in Orange County and two in Texas.

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Bosscat’s Irvine location, a 5,000-square-foot space at Lakeshore, hosted the anniversary party in May. Guests enjoyed favorites from the menu, like 12-hour short rib and mashed potatoes with crispy onion and whiskeys like Johnnie Walker, Oban and Makers Mark.

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine.
The new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine. Daily Dose Hospitality has grown to include not only Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, but TEN Sushi + Cocktail and Byblos Cafe as well.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Bosscat concept grew out of a sport bar named Daily Dose that Nguyen opened in Irvine in 2009.

“I was a regular, from the moment she opened her doors,” said Reed. “Once I saw how she worked, I fell in love with her work ethic because that is how I work too.”

The two friends became business partners and started dreaming up a new concept that could expand on the special atmosphere of Daily Dose.

“The kitchen at Daily Dose wasn’t a real kitchen, it was a convection oven, a sandwich station and a microwave,” said Nguyen. “We knew we wanted to build a bigger bar with a real kitchen and serve good food. We wanted to have good bar with good food.”

At the time, Nguyen and Reed envisioned a place that could bridge the gap between guests interested in high-end craft cocktails and guests more inclined to order a shot of Jameson with a Coors Light.

“This was also the height of craft beer and gastropubs so everyone was going for that, but Leslie said, ‘Let’s do whiskey and get ahead of the curve,’” said Reed.

Today, each Bosscat location has its own whiskey room, filled with hundreds of whiskeys from around the world, ranging from the high-end to the humble. Staff is trained on whiskey knowledge, and Nguyen said even a decade in, they still host weekly meetings and master classes to make sure team members know their spirits.

Reed said their genuineness and dedication to providing a quality experience without any snobbery is what has kept the concept going strong.

“Authenticity is the cornerstone of our success,” said Reed. “Leslie and I figured out early on that we just needed to truly be ourselves.”

During their journey with Bosscat, Reed and Nguyen both found sobriety, and the partners agree overcoming addiction has made their business stronger.

“I think running a bar sober is the easy part,” said Nguyen.

Founder Leslie Nguyen sips coffee at the new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine.
Founder Leslie Nguyen sips coffee at the new Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine. Daily Dose Hospitality has grown to include not only Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, but TEN Sushi + Cocktail and Byblos Cafe as well.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Reed and Nguyen also credit their ability to adapt for their restaurant’s longevity. The partners are constantly evolving all parts of the brand, from the space to the food and even their social media.

“When we first started, the social media was me posting memes and my photos from my phone. Ten years ago, Instagram was just starting, but now we have gorgeously produced content,” said Nguyen. “Technology has changed so we really had to change with it.”

Reed adds that when they first opened, they were known more as a masculine whiskey bar, but their demographic has evolved too.

“We have learned to maximize the different meal periods. We are more known for our brunch now,” said Reed.

Most weekends Bosscat fills up with diners looking to order Fruity Pebbles-crusted French toast with a condensed milk glaze or the Ultimate Cinnamon Roll, an oversized version of the classic pastry made with croissant dough and Vietnamese cinnamon.

While the duo won’t reveal everything they have in store for the next 10 years of Bosscat, diners can expect two additional Bosscat Kitchen & Libations locations to open in 2025, one in Las Vegas and the other in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

But Reed said the growth the two have planned for Daily Dose Hospitality is bigger than Bosscat.

“In our hospitality group, our goal is to grow into communities that we think are underserved with what we offer,” Reed said. “Whether that’s Bosscat Kitchen, TEN Sushi or Byblos Cafe.”

Founders John Reed and Leslie Nguyen in the dining room of Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine.
Founders John Reed and Leslie Nguyen in the dining room of Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Irvine. Daily Dose Hospitality has grown to include not only Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, but TEN Sushi + Cocktail and Byblos Cafe as well.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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