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Cattlemens plans to close Santa Rosa steakhouse, open in Rohnert Park

Here’s what the Sonoma County-based chain plans to do with its Montgomery Village location and at its new site in Rohnert Park.|

Yes, Cattlemens is serious this time about leaving Montgomery Village.

There have been rumblings over the years that the Santa Rosa-based chain of steakhouses would close its five-decade-old restaurant in the shopping center on the east side of the city, but those ended with a lease renewal there.

Earlier this year, the North Bay Business Journal reported the company bought a shuttered restaurant in Rohnert Park for $2.25 million, but Cattlemens, Inc. declined to discuss their plans for it.

The company announced Thursday it indeed will be serving its last meals and pouring its last drinks in Montgomery Village at year’s end, past the holidays. Cattlemens said it intends to open early next year in the 6,150-square-foot former Outback Steakhouse restaurant at 4619 Redwood Dr. after renovations and updating the space.

A more specific opening date hasn’t been announced.

“The decision to relocate to Rohnert Park was a difficult one,” said Peter Mrozik, president of Cattlemens. “Although we have been committed to the community surrounding Montgomery Village for over 50 years, mutual agreement on the terms for a new lease could not be reached.”

The long-term lease for the roughly 10,000-square-foot space at Montgomery Village expired, and the opportunity to buy the Outback location came up, Mrozik said.

The shopping center owner, Boston-based WS Development, could not be reached for comment.

"On any evening, walk into any of our restaurants and you'll meet guests who've been dining with us for 30- or 40-plus years, said Miranda Smith, marketing manager for the restaurant chain.

“Many of them came as kids and now bring their families. It's that relationship and emotional connection we have with our guests that Cattlemens' success is owed to, and is certainly one of the main reasons our restaurant has been a fixture” for over 50 years.

A recent hint of the restaurant’s departure from Montgomery Village was in 2011, when Cattlemens was in lease-renewal negotiations with the center’s owners at the time, David and Melissa Codding. Amid those talks with the Coddings a decade ago, the company had been scouting the former Latitude Restaurant location on the east side of Highway 101, Sonoma Magazine reported at the time.

That lakeside spot on the east side of Highway 101 became a Bear Republic Brewing restaurant.

In early June 2021, the Coddings sold the 280,000-square-foot open-air lifestyle center to WS Development for an undisclosed amount.

Cattlemens was started by rancher Pete Gillham Sr. in 1968. The first restaurant opened that year in Redondo Beach (since closed), followed by the Santa Rosa and Petaluma locations in 1970 and Dixon in northern Solano County in 1974.

Other California sites, including Roseville, Selma, Rancho Cordova, Livermore and Redding, opened over the next 15 years.

The company said it employs about 500. Cattlemens said most likely the whole team at the Montgomery Village location would move to Rohnert Park, but the company will be making staffing decisions and hires for the new site in coming months.

A key difference between the locations is private-event space, Smith said. The Rohnert Park building doesn’t such rooms, so other options are being explored, such as special patio seating.

Outback vacated its Rohnert Park site on March 31, 2021, according to the SoMo Group, a property management company for certain Codding family holdings, such as the Walmart- and Home Depot-anchored shopping center in whose parking lot the restaurant was located.

The seller of the restaurant to Cattlemens was C. Codding Holdings LLC, led by Connie Codding. She’s the wife of the late real estate developer Hugh Codding, who built Montgomery Village and was David Codding’s father.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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