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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Citrus City Grille Gets New Owner

Cosmas takes over day-to-day ops

The city of Orange’s Old Towne area is steeped in history. What is now a vibrant mixture of restaurants and boutiques was once an agricultural hub with raisins and livestock as the main source of income for farmers.

Pixley Hardware—the second brick building in Orange—was built in 1886 on Glassell Street. In 1909, it turned into Pixley Furniture Co., followed in 1919 by Fordson Tractor Agency.

In 1922, Daniel’s Food Market took up residence there and began servicing the citizens of Orange through the 1960s.

Aames Rents and Sells, a party rental and sick room rental business, occupied the building in the mid-1980s until a stained-glass studio came in, followed in the early 1990s by the Old Towne Antique Mall, a collaboration of antique dealers.

In 1995, three friends took over the spot and opened Citrus City Grille. In 1999, restaurateurs Steve Tsirtsis and Steve Xenos took over Citrus City Grille, renovating the concept and refreshing the menu. The restaurant proved to be a hit with diners from around the county.

Next Chapter

Now, a new owner has taken the reins at Citrus City Grille.

Restaurant industry veteran Charlie Cosmas, a longtime patron of Citrus City Grille, took over the day-to-day operations last summer.

“Working with Steve and his family on this opportunity was an incredible privilege, and I know that helping to carry on the legacy of Citrus City Grille is something very special,” said Cosmas, who assures longtime customers that “we are keeping the menu, culture and essence of the restaurant completely intact, and are looking forward to carrying the torch for years to come.”

“We are thrilled to have the Cosmas family caring now for Citrus City Grille,” said Tsirtsis. “I knew the day we met Charlie and his family that the restaurant couldn’t be in better hands. I know Charlie and his passion for food and the quality he puts on everything he does. I can assure you that Citrus City Grille guests will continue to enjoy the same quality and service.”

American, Mediterranean Influences

Citrus City Grille offers modern, contemporary American cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean flavors, which makes sense since Tsirtsis and Cosmas are of Greek descent.

The seasonal menu boasts a unique variety of small plates, main courses and sides.

Of note are their pizzas and pastas, and main courses that range from a burger and prime rib dip to Chilean seabass and veal osso buco.

During a lunch meeting with Cosmas, he noted that Citrus City Grille has many repeat customers who have been dining at the restaurant for many years, which is why he has no plans to make any drastic changes, especially to the menu, which boasts more than 50 dishes.

“And we have daily specials,” he said. “Every day we try to do something different for lunch, and for dinner. The prime rib dish is one of our most popular, along with the burger and the sea bass—that dish is a life-changing experience.

“We have a good clientele, and we are seeing repeat visits from first-time diners,” added Cosmas, who noted that Citrus City Grille is a large restaurant with seating for 150 diners.

“When it’s full it’s nice to see, but it’s stressful because you want to do a good job. I concentrate on good service, and I have faith in the kitchen.”

Cosmas has servers and chefs that have been at Citrus City Grille for many years, and one of his cooks has been with the restaurant since it first opened.

Finding the Rhythm

While Cosmas was a Citrus City Grille customer for many years, taking over the restaurant is, as he puts it, “not like just walking in and pressing a button. I’m finding the rhythm and style of the restaurant.”

“It’s going to take me a few more months to get it down. There is so much potential, especially within the community, and I want to tap into that.”

The OCBJ Review

Having dined at Citrus City Grille many times over the years, I have been a fan of their food, but Charlie Cosmas walked me through some of the menu highlights during recent visits, both solo and with friends.

My favorite pasta dish on the menu is the tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, thyme shallots and Marsala cream sauce, although a recent dish of spaghetti with shrimp was simple and tasty.

A lunch with friends included us sharing a Margherita pizza, as authentic as they come.

I also tried the wagyu burger, which was a delicious handful. It was juicy with large slices of tomatoes covering the half-pound patty. The fries that accompanied the burger were perfect—crispy outside and soft inside.

One appetizer I had never tried, but did during our lunch meeting, was the saganaki, a traditional Greek dish made with Kefalotyri cheese and flambéed tableside. It’s a showy presentation and a unique dish that I found addicting.

Cosmas, true to his heritage, had a Greek salad—minus the lettuce—as we dined.

I plan to return soon to tackle the prime rib dip, and the new Saturday breakfast menu that Cosmas is getting ready to introduce. Oh—and the Sunday brunch.

Citrus City Grille has a nice wine list and an impressive array of cocktails.

Citrus City Grille: 122 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 639-9600, citruscitygrille.com


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