Lakefront Tap Room celebrates 6th anniversary

Aug 4, 2022 | Business, Front Page, Lake Arrowhead

By Dr. Ginger Gabriel
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer

Congratulations to The Lakefront Tap Room Bar and Kitchen celebrating six years of business in Lake Arrowhead Village.

A recent random survey of “Favorite eatery on the mountain” revealed the Lakefront Tap Room Bar and Kitchen to be the “most mentioned.” The owners of the Tap Room, Rim High graduates John and Heather Hackney, came home to make a difference in their hometown after being gone for almost a decade.

Traveling, university degrees and career experiences came together with the opportunity of an available space on the waterfront of Lake Arrowhead Village. The space available was an old bookstore which they turned into the kitchen for their chefs and a previous coffee shop turned into the dining area for their guests. Some call it luck, others call it vision.

Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Preparation included John’s graduation from U. C. Riverside in fine arts and almost 10 years of experience in the restaurant and consumer worlds of Starbucks, Applebee’s and Apple Inc. He supervised, bartended and, at Apple Inc., was Lead Creative and led the tech team at a retail store.

Heather had grown up in the restaurant world at Lake Arrowhead Village Pizza and, among other things, had been busy in the wedding business.

I met up with Tap Room co-owner Heather Hackney on a busy Saturday night to find out what is making this restaurant so talked about and how she and John kept the business afloat during the pandemic.

“Of course, when we opened the restaurant,” Heather responded, “we hadn’t seen ourselves doing take-out orders or outdoor seating on the terrace. We obeyed all the county ordinances. We’re problem solvers. And in the end, we’ve come out stronger.

“We’ve always had the patio where people can sit outdoors and enjoy the view of the lake and watch the comings and goings of the Arrowhead Queen tour boat,” she noted. “We built and stained picnic-style tables for the front terrace so people could still have a restaurant experience but feel safe from COVID. Now, when the restaurant is crowded, people can still opt to eat here on the terrace. Well-behaved animals are welcome to dine with us there.” On a terrace table I noticed a menu for dogs.

Since John and Heather are travelers, the Tap Room menu speaks to their favorite taverns and gastropubs around the country and around the world. They have a passion for quality food, craft cocktails and tap room craft beer. John installed the taps himself. The handles rotate often and often present rare craft beers. Their website is updated frequently. There are more than 40 craft beers on tap at any time.

Heather said there always is a cider on tap which could pair well with the Irish Banger, which brought up my memories of travels to the Emerald Isle. (The Banger photo is worth a 1000 words and makes my mouth water.) How about a trip to Southern Europe for the Greek gyro falafel with tzatziki sauce, or perhaps cross the Ionian Sea into Italy for the Italian sausage or Italian beef sandwich? Ask your server for a craft beer suggestion to go with your entree.

The Tap Room burger was “the best” according to an 8-year-old wearing a unicorn T-shirt. Her mom agreed that it was “simply delicious.” All of the Tap Room burgers include eight ounces of premium American kobe wagyu beef. The Tap Room burger includes sharp cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, grilled onion, Guinness mayo and green leaf lettuce on a toasted brioche bun. There were several side choices, but I opted for the sweet potato fries. The wagyu beef did seriously melt in my mouth.

There are some of us who had to ask, “What is a tap room? And how is craft beer different from beer in a can?” Several websites have noted that craft beer has enjoyed a boom among millennial beer drinkers in recent years. Beer that has been crafted and produced by a small independent brewery can be tap drawn, thus the row of tap handles that distinguishes a tap room. While the beer-making industry has a long history, the term «craft beer» is rather new to the world of beer brewing and drinking.

The Lakefront Tap Room features one of these small independent breweries each month. July featured Boomtown Brewery in Los Angeles. Heather told me that Boomtown Brewery is amazing and worth a trip to its location in the Arts District in Los Angeles. There are over 92 of these breweries in Los Angeles.

As Heather was explaining some of this to me, I asked if they served wine. “Yes,” she replied. “We have wine on tap. Because it is on tap, we can serve a higher quality and it is fresher than if we served from a bottle. We have both white and red.”

Every Friday and Saturday night from 7 to 9 p.m., the Tap Room features musical talent for the enjoyment of their guests. In addition, Heather said, on Tuesdays they host activities like painting classes, games or craft nights.

As Heather and I were wrapping up the interview, one of her diners, carrying a young child, approached her saying, “Hi, my name is Hilary and I know my kids were noisy. I want to thank you for stopping by our table and greeting us and making us feel welcome and comfortable. We drove quite a distance to get here and we love it. We’ll be back. Thank you for your kindness!” At this point her 4-month-old Ethan gave Heather the biggest toothless smile.

I turned to Heather and said, “Ethan’s smile says it all. I can see why this place is a winner.”
The Lakefront Tap Room Bar and Kitchen is located at 28200 State Highway 189, Suite E-200 in Lake Arrowhead Village. Its open every day; for hours call (909) 744-8887.



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