One of the most beautiful restaurants in Orange County just got more beautiful. The patio at Javier’s in Newport Beach has doubled in size: Its ceilings are higher, its colors more sophisticated and its floor stunningly embedded with multihued pebbles.

“And not a bad view,” notes Javier Sosa, Jr., general manager and son of Javier’s founder Javier Sosa, Sr.

Indeed, larger windows look out past floral-inspired fire features to the blue Pacific Ocean beyond; new palm trees include the centerpiece of a rotunda seating 30. Patrons might feel they’re on a resort vacation.

Inside, the focal tequila-tree sculpture behind the main bar has been replaced by tropical foliage. The kitchen, gleaming and immaculate to begin with, has grown to accommodate the restaurant’s 370 diners.

Humble beginnings

In 1969, Javier Sosa Sr. left Tijuana and was hired as a dishwasher at Tortilla Flats in Laguna Beach, where he met his future wife, a line cook; both of their families had roots in Sinaloa.

He remained at Tortilla Flats for nearly a quarter of a century, ultimately serving as its general manager; while there, 45 years ago, he was among the first in the U.S. to introduce a Taco Tuesday.

Sosa Sr. and partner Mark Post opened their own restaurant in Laguna Beach in 1995; it moved to Newport Beach in 2008. Javier’s is now among the most successful restaurants in Southern California.

What sets the Newport Beach location apart from the others?

“A better question is what makes them similar,” says Sosa Jr. “My dad creates a culture. We have 1,200 employees – yet the way they work, their passion for it, they’re all the same. The menus are the same. The only thing that makes the restaurants different is location and decor.”

The Spectrum location still holds a special place in Sosa Jr.’s heart.

“I live in Irvine,” he says. “I often work at the Javier’s in Irvine. The Irvine community embraces us. The Irvine Spectrum Center is beautiful. That is a great restaurant – it is gorgeous.”

Javier’s founder Javier Sosa Sr., with Javier Sosa Jr., who manages the Newport Beach restaurant.

Lessons from his father

Sosa Jr. learned some valuable lessons from his father, such as “If you think it, you can do it – you can do it all,” he recalls. “And, ‘There’s no such thing as we can’t.’ How hard my dad worked, how everything he puts out, he gets back. What is that word people use when they visualize? Manifest. He is the king of manifest!

“Another reason my dad is so successful is he’s not scared of change. It’s never, ‘That’s the way we used to do it; that’s how we’ll keep doing it.’ He looks for what’s evolving, what’s changing. You’re vegan, vegetarian, health-conscious? We’ve got you covered.”

And whatever the dish, the focus is on high-end ingredients.

“We deal directly with the purveyors and farms. We don’t cut corners,” he says. “All aged steaks, all center cut, all Prime” – Sosa Jr. pulls out his phone to show photos of beautiful steaks – “and the fish is hand-selected.”

Javier’s most popular dish: seafood enchiladas.