Stephen Collins '7th Heaven' Cast and Viewers They Have My Back

1/31/2015 6:25 AM PST

Stephen Collins made a very public re-entry into public life after the molestation allegations surfaced  ... dining at a high-profile restaurant Friday night and expressing gratitude for the support he's received.

Collins and his divorce lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, were leaving Mr. Chow in Bev Hills Friday night when our photog asked about '7th Heaven' very quietly coming back on the air after it was yanked in the wake of the audio tape in which Collins confessed to molestation.

Make no mistake ... going to Mr. Chow is calculated.  He wanted to talk, and it's interesting.