Twenty years ago, drowsy Brea didn’t know what to make of the massive new Taps restaurant looming over downtown’s busiest intersection.
The audacious venue offered so much: a fish house with a raw bar, serious steaks on the menu, a nascent brewery, a big bar, and a sprawling patio. It was a dining campus of sorts, and Brea’s biggest restaurant ever (The Cheesecake Factory was years away).
The Manzella clan—father Fred, son Joe, and daughter Michele—was unknown in the industry, but the success of the family’s outsize passion project was a preview of a go-big-or-go-home approach to hospitality. “Just about everyone gave us little chance for success,” says Joe, who took on a larger role when Fred died in 2001.
Next, Joe scooped up and rebuilt The Catch, Anaheim’s iconic destination before and after games or concerts. A second Taps opened in Corona, then a third at Irvine Marketplace.
Meanwhile, the breweries keep drawing acclaim and demand the Manzellas can’t ignore, so why not build Taps Brewery & Barrel Room in Tustin? Open since July, the 19,000-square-foot next-level brewery includes a tasting room, patio, and dedicated food truck.
Expect to see Taps lagers nationwide. “It’s been a tremendous ride and also a lesson in perseverance,” Joe says. “We still fret over every little thing that creates a beautiful guest experience.”
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