In February, the Business Journal profiled O Sea in Orange, a seafood restaurant that opened in June 2021—the middle of the pandemic.
The restaurant began as an “order-at-the-counter” eatery, but owner and General Manager Mike Flynn quickly found out diners preferred a full-service experience.
Once he switched tactics, success came relatively quickly.
Last July, Flynn launched a happy hour menu served weekdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“I thought it would be successful, especially with economic concerns and people looking to have more for less,” Flynn said. “It’s been extremely successful. In August, our sales were up 30% over July, and a lot of that has come from the middle of the afternoon. I’ve been working in restaurants for a few years and have never been busier at 3:30 than 12:30. It’s been wild.”
The happy hour menu is what Flynn calls “a good representation of what we do. They are all signature items, and some seasonal dishes. If you were to sample our menu in five bites, that’s what it is.”
Flynn was supposed to open his restaurant in 2020, but had no interest in opening during the pre-vaccine days.
“Once they announced the vaccines, we set a construction timeline,” Flynn said.
“Last summer was great, then delta and omicron (variants) hit. That was a tough time for the business, but after we changed from counter service to full service, it’s been really great. The menu is now two or three times bigger than when we first opened.”
So is his wine selection, which numbers 70 varietals.
O Sea has a no corkage fee policy, with one caveat: those who bring their own wine, must pour a small glass and bring it to someone in the restaurant.
“It’s super fun—people are slinging wines all over the dining room on weekends,” Flynn stated. “Introduce yourself and share a glass of wine. It’s not good for my bottom line but it’s good for the community.”
The OCBJ Review
The O Sea happy hour menu includes a selection of oysters, spicy albacore tuna on crispy rice, albacore tuna poke, salmon ceviche, crispy hot shrimp, and—unexpected for a seafood-focused restaurant—a cheeseburger, which owner and GM Mike Flynn dubs “the unnecessary burger.” It’s a slightly smaller version of O Sea’s double cheeseburger that’s on the regular menu.
Guess what—it’s a sensational burger. It’s simple, with melted American cheese and remoulade, but it has quickly become one of my favorite burgers in Orange County.
Last time at O Sea I had the green goddess chopped salad with baby kale, bacon, house-made corn nuts, goat cheese, avocado, cucumber, tomato and salmon. My friend had the crispy chicken “Katsu” sandwich, which Flynn accurately described as a “smashed fried chicken sandwich.”
I’ve taken friends to lunch here several times and they all agree the food is terrific, even though we don’t always stick to seafood.
O Sea: 109 S. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 363-3309, eatosea.com