Attorney buys Red Kettle: ‘When I retire [from law], I can be the maître D’ ’

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Los Angeles attorney Bruce Ross, new owner of the Red Kettle, has long ties to Idyllwild dating back to the 70s when he served as a volunteer firefighter in Pine Cove and was part of a slate of officers for the Pine Cove Water District board that opposed a mobile home development in Dutch Flats. Photo by Marshall Smith

Los Angeles attorney Bruce Ross, new owner of the Red Kettle, has long ties to Idyllwild dating back to the 70s when he served as a volunteer firefighter in Pine Cove and was part of a slate of officers for the Pine Cove Water District board that opposed a mobile home development in Dutch Flats.
Photo by Marshall Smith

Los Angeles attorney Bruce Ross has a long history with Idyllwild. Forty years ago, he thought to invest in a restaurant in Pine Cove with a friend. The friend was killed in a bike crash and Ross’ thoughts of owning a restaurant took second place to his burgeoning law career — until now.

Ross bought the Red Kettle, one of Idyllwild’s most established and iconic eateries. “I have three children and six grandchildren and we all eat at the Kettle,” he noted. “I thought it would be cheaper to buy the restaurant than to pay to feed them all,” Ross laughed, recounting his and his family’s long history with Idyllwild and the very real pleasure of owning a historic piece of Idyllwild’s commercial landscape.

Ross’ ties to Idyllwild go back many decades, including dabbling in local politics in 1973, and a stint as a volunteer firefighter with the Pine Cove station. His political activism involved running for a slate of officers for the Pine Cove Water District board that opposed Riverside developer Jacques “Jack” Yeager’s attempt to turn Dutch Flats into a mobile-home park. Ross and his Concerned Citizens of the San Jacinto Mountain Area won. Yeager withdrew his plan.

Ross, an Oberlin College graduate, cum laude, and UC Berkeley law graduate, moved off the Hill to pursue his law career. Ross’ practice areas include private wealth services, nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, trust, estate and fiduciary dispute resolution. He is the author of one of the leading treatises on California probate law and has been honored in the Best Lawyers in America guide and Southern California Super Lawyers magazine. As chair of a Los Angeles County Bar Association committee, Ross was the principal author of 1997 rules and regulations adopted by the Probate Department of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Ross is an opera buff, an avid swimmer, a rock climber and an art collector. He has always mixed career with volunteering. He has been a scoutmaster, former president of the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, a longtime member of the advisor’s council of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and honorary life trustee and capital campaign co-chair for the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena.

“Five years ago, I started coming back up to Idyllwild,” said Ross. In October 2015, he bought a home in Idyllwild. “About that time, I saw a marketing listing for the restaurant. I knew the Red Kettle well because I had been going there for years. Dora [Dillman] arranged a meeting [with owner Shane Stewart] and within 30 minutes we had a handshake deal. I think it’s wonderful. Ashley [Stewart] will stay as assistant manager, and Annie Weaver will come on as manager. We’ll keep the staff and everything as it is.

“And when I retire [from law], I can be the maître D’.” According to Dillman, ownership transferred to Ross as of Monday, May 23, through a “temporary license” pending ABC final approval. An open house and grand opening is scheduled for Monday, June 6. The Kettle serves breakfast and lunch daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The grand opening will include free champagne and coffee for all adults, and free juice and milk for younger guests.

Ross said his many years of history with and affection for Idyllwild and its unique character have built a connection he looks forward to continuing. “I just want to be involved with the community,” he said.

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