Owen's Bistro: Food for Foodies

Chino Champion Newspapers
September 15, 2011

"Food for Foodies" is the theme of Owen's Bistro, the eatery operated by James and Denise Kelly at 5210 D St. in Chino.

The independent restaurant specializes in what Chef Kelly calls "progressive modern American cuisine with a sense of humor."

Tuesday is the exception, however, as American cuisine gives way to Italian Night. A three-course meal is served at the special price of $15.95.

Owen's was established in 2003 and named after the Kellys' son. In 2008, Mr. Kelly was named Chef of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association.

Mr. Kelly said his colorful family heritage may have contributed to his passion for food and artistic presentation.

"My grandparents had an Italian restaurant in Chicago when I was born; we were just always there. I remember playing with pizza dough, and watching my grandmother make everything from meatballs to sausage," Mr. Kelly said.

Mr. Kelly opened his first restaurant with his sister in 1990, when he was 21. The place was called Brown Bag It at Riverside Drive and Mountain Avenue.

After he met and married Denise, the couple moved to Chino, having been asked by the city to participate in a redevelopment project.

"We took one look at this place and it was perfect," Mr. Kelly said. Old brick walls guard a paved courtyard, which holds an amphitheatre with a timeline of the development of the city, the River of Life fountain and a few historical sayings by famed figures, including one by William Shakespeare that reads, "What is the city but the people?"

The vine-covered outdoor seating area and the simple interior of Owen's dining room are described by Mr. Kelly as "feeling like it's somewhere else — you could be in Pasadena, New Orleans or Tuscany," he said.

Owen's is open five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until close. To make dinner reservations (highly recommended), call (909) 628-0452.

The website is www.owensbistro.com. Contact the Kellys by email at owensbistro@yahoo.com.