Heroic Highlanders, CIF Champions

La Habra Football 2015, CIF ChampionsBy: Jason Burch

Another miraculous catch on the final play lifts La Habra over San Clemente 39-36 to win CIF title for the seventh time in school history on Friday night at Cerritos College.

The Tritons scored a go ahead touchdown to make it 36-33 with just 20 seconds left on the clock, forcing the Highlanders to call upon quarterback Eric Barriere to pullout another improbable finish.

With the CIF Championship hanging in the balance, “EB3” used his uncanny improvisation skills to elude the pass rush, allowing Prince Ross enough time to get open in the corner of the end zone where Barriere threaded the needle between a cluster of red and white jerseys for the title-winning touchdown as time expired.

“Oh my lord that kid is something,” head coach Frank Mazzotta said of his quarterback.

Ross said that he knew Barriere was going to make the play and was just trying to get open for him.

“I knew Eric could do it, he is amazing,” Ross said. “For him to throw that ball and trust me was great.”

After giving up the lead with just seconds to play, prospects looked grim for La Habra. However, drawing upon their experience with a similar last second victory over Los Alamitos early this season, the Highlanders believed they could make it happen.

Eric Lancaster-Garcia, who had the game-winning grab against the Griffins in week four, returned the ensuing kickoff to the 45-yard-line and a personal foul on San Clemente moved the ball to the Triton 40.

With time for two plays, Barrier quickly hit Ross on an out for 13 yards to stop the clock and setup the final play— the 27-yard touchdown from Barriere to Ross.

“This is my first ever championship, it’s a great feeling to win it like this,” Barriere said.

Earlier, the Triton defense came up with a big stop with just over three minutes to play, when they deflected Barriere’s pass into the end zone on fourth down, falling incomplete.

San Clemente took possession at the 16-yard-line with 3:01 to play and quarterback Jack Sears led them on an 84-yard go-ahead scoring drive.

The first half ended with the score knotted at 14-14.

Both offenses moved the ball with ease for the majority of the game. The only punts in the game for either side came in the third quarter when the Highlander defense forced the Tritons to punt on back-to-back series.

Barriere played a near-flawless game, completing 16-17 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns, adding 93 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Ross had a big second half with 128 yards and two touchdowns, including an 84-yard catch and run that tied the game 21-21. He finished with 174 yards and three scores.

Amon Fellows was Barriere’s go-to receiver in the first half, racking up 101 of his 140 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown on the opening drive.

The Highanders turned to running back C.J. Taylor to carry the load in the second half. After a slow start and an early fumble, Taylor began to wear down the Triton defense late, gaining chunks of yards with his patient and churning running style. Taylor gained 101 yards in the second half, and 139 total yards with one score.

The Tritons much like they had all season, relied heavily on the three-pronged rushing attack of Vlad Dzhabiev, Brandon Reaves and quarterback Jack Sears. The trio combined for 319 yards. Reaves added two touchdowns, while Sears and Dzhabiev each scored one.

Sears carried the offense down the stretch, with 103 of his 124 rushing yards coming in the second half. The junior quarterback went 11-16 for 125 yards passing with two scores.

The Tritons (11-3) final game was a heartbreaker, but the team promises to be strong again next season with Sears returning for his senior season. Head coach Jaime Garcia commended his quarterback’s will to win and was proud of the way his team battled.

“It’s a tough loss and words can’t heal what happened here tonight, but 10-15 years from now these kids can say they had a great career here,” Tritons head coach Jaime Garcia said.

The Highlanders (13-1) captured the school’s seventh CIF Championship with the win. Mazzotta said tonight was definitely the most dramatic one yet. La Habra will move on to a regional championship game against Camarillo (14-0) next week.

Source: La Habra Journal


HOW TO GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE LOANIf you’ve read any tips for homebuyers then chances are you’ve heard that you need to get pre-approved for a loan about a million times. The question is – how exactly do you get the pre-approval?

Here are the steps you need to take to get pre-approved and the most important facts you need to get you there.


It’s a written statement from a lender stating that you would qualify for a particular loan under your current qualifications and the lender’s guidelines. A pre-approval letter is good for 60-90 days and the loan amount is based on your income and credit information.

A pre-approval letter is not an offer to lend, a commitment to make a loan, or a guarantee of specific rates or terms. It is however an accurate idea of how much home you can afford. And most importantly as a homebuyer, it’s proof to sellers that you have done your homework and are serious about purchasing.


Getting pre-approved and getting pre-qualified are two very different things and only the pre-approval holds much weight as a potential homebuyer. A pre-qualification does not go as depth into your finances as it does not include an analysis of your credit report. To be pre-qualified you simply give a lender an idea of your debt, income and assets (no paperwork, just your word) and a lender can discuss your potential options.


First and foremost you need to choose a mortgage lender. Keep in mind that each lender has its own standards and processes for determining whether to grant a pre-approval letter. However, in general you will have to complete an official mortgage application and supply the lender with all of your pertinent information.


  • Proof of income
  • Proof of assets
  • Proof of employment
  • A good credit score
  • Personal documentation i.e. copy of your divers license, Social Security number, and your signature on lots of paperwork!
Kevin Allen​      
Broker Associate
First Team Estates
Christie’s International Real Estate
Office: 714-481-5831

Those who say “It can’t be done,” shouldn’t interrupt those who are doing it.
First Team Real Estate is the number one family-owned, non-franchised real estate company in Orange County and all of Calif., voted Best Real Estate Company 4 years in a row by the OC Register, and has sold more homes in Southern California than any other brokerage in the last 10 years.

La Habra’s Barriere looks for his final highlight

Eric Barriere’s Twitter photo aptly depicts the relationship he and La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta maintain.

It’s a simple picture really, the Highlanders quarterback exchanging a casual fist bump with his veteran coach on the sideline, presumably following a touchdown or the type of highlight reel play ‘EB3’ has made the new norm in north county.

Mazzotta has seen the kid do it all: hurdle would-be tacklers, hit receivers with a pass down the field with a simple flick of the wrist, even turn the most hopeless of plays into large gains with his mobility.

Now in year three of Barriere’s tenure as the team’s starting quarterback, the only thing that has eluded the duo is a CIF-SS championship. That can change tonight when top-seeded La Habra plays second-seeded San Clemente at Cerritos College at 7 in the Southwest Division final.

“Him and I have really been together for four years now,” Mazzotta said. “I brought him up as a freshman and we’ve worked together ever since. So it’s definitely bittersweet. I don’t want this season to end just because of that.”

Over Barriere’s 36 career starts, La Habra’s offense has averaged 42 points and has been limited to 20 points or fewer just twice, both times against Mission Viejo. The Highlanders have won 29 games with Barriere as its starter, and win No. 30 would bring the program’s CIF trophy count to seven overall.

“Coming in as a little sophomore – starting my first varsity game – I didn’t know what to expect,” Barriere explained. “After the first half of that year, the game kind of slowed down. Ever since then, I’ve been calm and nothing really phases me.”

Having won CIF titles with Daniel Morales, Chris Morales, Randall Nygren and Cody Clements in years past, Mazzotta puts Barriere atop the list of quarterbacks he has coached.

“He’s the one that combines the best running, throwing combination,” he said. “He’s just as smart and he offers more of the overall package. So he’s got to be No. 1 on the list.”

In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Barriere accounted for 15 total touchdowns – nine passing and six rushing – and did not have a pass intercepted.

A pass-first mentality might be the most impressive of Barriere’s traits, given that he’s athletic enough to get by on just his running ability.

This season, the Highlanders senior has had double-digit rushing attempts in just three games. He has gained 759 yards on just 84 carries, an average of 9 yards a pop.

“He can make anything happen at any point in time,” La Habra wide receiver Amon Fellows said. “It’s up to us to stay alive and make sure that he can throw us the ball down field instead of him running, getting hurt potentially.”

Making plays is exactly what the Highlanders will need from Barriere if they hope to celebrate the school’s first CIF championship since 2010.

And if there is reason to rejoice after tonight’s showdown, don’t expect the coach and his quarterback to be quite as laid-back as they are in the photo.


Source: OC Register

La Habra’s dream comes true against Los Alamitos

La Habra's Eric Lancaster-Garcia comes down with the game-winning catch on a 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with no time left on the clock in Friday's game against Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.

La Habra’s Eric Lancaster-Garcia comes down with the game-winning catch on a 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with no time left on the clock in Friday’s game against Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.

LONG BEACH – It was a moment scripted in Eric Barriere’s dreams and it came true in dramatic fashion Friday night, sending La Habra into a CIF championship-worthy celebration in September.

And who could blame the No. 8 Highlanders after the stunning finish to their nonleague game against No. 7 Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium.

Barriere threw a 44-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game to wide receiver Eric Lancaster-Garcia to lift La Habra to a 37-32 victory.

In typical Barriere fashion, he scrambled across the field to his left on the play, then hoisted a half-the-field pass toward the opposite front, corner of the end zone to Lancaster-Garcia, who caught the ball cleanly in a crowd of about five players.

La Habra (3-1) stormed Lancaster-Garcia in the end zone in a wild celebration.

“I dream of feeling like this, a game like this,” said Barriere, whose TD pass came out of a timeout with two seconds left. “Before the play, I just felt confident. I knew we were going to win this game.

“This is my first (Hail Mary). Finally doing one is pretty crazy.”

Barriere’s heroics capped a back-and-forth second half. Los Alamitos (2-1) took a 32-31 lead with 47 seconds left as Randall Gonzalez scored on a 11-yard touchdown run – on his only carry – and tight end Drew Platt caught a 2-point conversion pass from quarterback Jack Telenko.

The Highlanders started the ensuing drive at their 19. Despite a sack on first down by Joey Noble and a near-interception on second down, Barriere completed two passes to reach the Griffins 44 with two seconds left.

“Very overwhelmed,” said Lancaster-Garcia, who hugged a reporter afterward. “I just did what I was coached to do. I went up for the ball. No regrets. Came down with it. … I didn’t catch any other ball but I came down with it when it counted.”

La Habra led, 24-7, at halftime, passing up a short field goal attempt to take an unsuccessful shot at the end zone.

Los Alamitos surged in the second half behind its defense, Telenko and running back Schuyler Whitehead.

Whitehead scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 14 yards in the third quarter, the latter coming off a fourth-and-1 stand by the Griffins at midfield. Early in the fourth, Whitehead knocked Barriere out of the game for one play, which La Habra fumbled away at its 45.

Los Alamitos drove for a 25-yard field goal by Jacob Gasser with 7:38 left in the fourth, tying the score, 24-24.

Penalties were costly for the Griffins. On the drive, Whitehead had a touchdown run negated by a holding call.

La Habra flexed its ground muscle on the ensuing possession, driving from its 8 for a 12-yard TD run byMadison Wheeler with 4:50 left in the fourth. The extra-point by Holden Remme gave La Habra a 31-24 lead.

But the Highlanders still had to push to the final play to beat the Griffins and show what they learned from a loss against Mission Viejo.

“It just shows how tough we are, especially from last week (against Mission Viejo),” Barriere said. “I felt we should have won that game.”

Before Friday’s game, La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said, “You can’t leave the door open against good teams.”

Barriere slammed the door on the Griffins on the final play but he also ran for two touchdowns in the first half and threw another.

His two touchdowns were separated by about two minutes in the second quarter. The second one came after an interception by cornerback Michael Walters at the 50 as the Griffins mixed up a pass route. Two plays laterd bat the Griffins 44, Barriere ran right on an option, faked a pitch to juke Whitehead and burst into the secondary. He broke a tackle at the 25 and raced into the end zone for 21-7 lead.


Since the City of La Habra Heights was incorporated nearly 37 years ago, it has never formally welcomed the head of the largest Sheriffs Department in the United States. That ends when the city welcomes newly elected Sheriff Jim Mcdonnell later this month for a

meet and greet with the residents and to thank him and the department for the great service to the city all these years. “I’m not sure why it hadn’t happened until now” said Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Miller ” But I had spoken with him at a few events and finally just asked him if he would come to the city and spend some time with the residents and let the city show our gratitude to the department” Mayor Pro Tempore Miller added ” He happily

agreed and said he loves our small city and the golf course, which is well known, so we’re very pleased to welcome him.

In addition to the sheriff, Supervisor Don Knabe will also be attending as well as a special performance by the Rancho Starbuck drum line core. The meet and greet takes place on Monday, September 21 from 6pm to 8pm at City Hall in the Council Chambers.

The event is open to all La Habra Heights residents. There will be refreshments as well a photo opportunity with Sheriff Mcdonnell for the residents. Please see the included flyer for more info and to RSVP.

Meet and Greet – LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell (1) (1) (1)

La Habra hitting the links with first girls golf team

By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal

The La Habra High School Highlanders will field their first women’s golf team for the 2015 season.
Last year, La Habra High School created a women’s golf club in preparation of creating a competitive team for this upcoming fall season.

2015 LHHS Girls Golf Team

About 15 girls joined the club with little to no experience but lots of enthusiasm and interest.
Head Coach Cody Verdugo said that most of the girls had never played before. “Only three girls had golf clubs, but at least 10 took a liking to golf. I am very pleased with the growth we have seen,” he said.
The golf club at La Habra High School included instructions for the basics of the sport. Not only did the girls in the club learn to hit a plastic golf ball in the football stadium, Coach Verdugo also taught the girls golf etiquette.
“Golf is like an onion. There are layers to the sport. It is not just about hitting the golf ball,” Verdugo said.

Interest in girls golf has not only sparked at La Habra High School but in other Freeway League schools as well.
Fullerton, Sunny Hills and Buena Park have decided to field a girls golf team this season. They will join Troy, which already had a team in place.

Troy High School will be the most competitive women’s golf team this upcoming season because they previously fielded a girls’ golf team and have competitive returners.

Mandy Arriola finishes a swing during practice. The lefty looks to help lead the Lady Highlanders during their inaugural season.

Mandy Arriola finishes a swing during practice. The lefty looks to help lead the Lady Highlanders during their inaugural season.

In fact, last season Troy’s women’s team ranked No. 1 in Orange County, No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section, and No. 5 in the state of California.

Preseason will begin in late August and league competition will start on Sept. 13.
For Verdugo, the decision to move from being on the coaching staff of La Habra Football to take up the challenge of starting a girls golf team was to follow his passion.

Verdugo fell in love with the sport of golf in his senior year of college at Chapman University. Although he has played football his entire life, golf has become a sport he has become passionate about.
Additionally, Verdugo’s son and three daughters have also taken a liking to the sport and participate competitively as golfers.

Coach Verdugo proved his coaching ability last season as the La Habra men’s golf team finished eighth in the Southern division, the best finish in the school’s history. The Whittier Daily News honored Verdugo as 2015 Coach of the Year.

The amount of money invested in women’s golf college scholarships is another reason Coach Verdugo has created a women’s golf team to accompany the men’s team.

Although the growth rate of participation of women has almost tripled men in the last few years, women still make up less than 25 percent of golfers, according to athleticscholarships.net.

According to scholarshipstats.com, in 2014 the number of male high school golfers is double the amount of female golfers. However, Division I universities offer six scholarships to female golfers as opposed to the four and a half to male golfers.

Alyssa Heidrich takes a swing during practice.

That growth rate was shown during the first day of La Habra’s women’s golf tryouts Wednesday afternoon at Westridge Golf Club.

Twelve returners from the golf club were present as well as eight additional girls. The additional girls who showed up at tryouts did not know much golf etiquette, but they were athletic, Coach Verdugo said.

“It would be rare for someone to show up and be completely ready,” Verdugo said.

Coach Verdugo is looking to field a team between 15 and 20 girls. Although only seven players compete in a match for both varsity and junior varsity, 20 girls is a good number to manage girls who are still developing their skills as golfers, he said.

“Returners will be the foundation of the varsity team,” Coach Verdugo said.

The Lady Highlanders hit the links for the first time on September 9 against Empire League champion Valencia at Alta Vista Country Club in Placentia at 4 p.m.


2015 Lady Highlander Golf Team Roster

Mandy Arriola
Alex Barber
Nikki Chamberlain
Kira Cauley
Alyssa Enriquez
Haylee Enriquez
Alyssa Heidrich
Aurora Heuermann
Charlotte Irirzarry
Samantha Parr
Janet Romero
Julia Sanchez
Jena Schuh
Dominique Tosunian
Galina Tressler
Frankie Valencia

La Habra Heights council broke open-meeting law, District Attorney’s Office says

By Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News

LA HABRA HEIGHTS – The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office accused the City Council of breaking the state’s open-meeting law when on Jan. 2 it met in closed session to approve new language in the ballot title for the anti-oil initiative that was going to the voters in March.

The city had been sued over the wording and two days before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found the ballot title was misleading.

The council then amended the title in closed session.

That was wrong, said Terrie Tengelsen, deputy district attorney in a letter to the City Council.

“In our opinion, once the City Council decided that the next course of action would be to amend the ballot language, the closed session should have ended with a report out on that action in public session,” Tengelsen wrote.

Amending the ballot language isn’t something that can be done in closed session, he said. The council should have adjourned the meeting and called for a subsequent meeting, he said.

“Instead the City Council circumvented this process by immediately holding its discussion and voting to amend the ballot language in closed session,” he wrote.

Tengelsen said there is no need to fix the situation because the council action was voided when the court struck down the language and approved alternative wording in the ballot title.

Voters defeated the measure in March.

William J. Priest, an attorney for the city, in a letter to the District Attorney’s Office, said the council did nothing wrong.

“Because the court’s ruling was open-ended, the litigation was not yet fully resolved and settlement discussions were ongoing,” Priest wrote.

“The council’s decision could have settled the litigation,” he wrote. “As a public lawyer, I know you understand how prejudicial it might have been to the city’s effort to settle this litigation if the council were required to confer with me in open session regarding the ballot label wording.”

Tengelsen said a month earlier the council dealt with a lawsuit over the same issue but a different part. That time it did everything in public session.

But City Attorney John Brown said the circumstances were different because the council was approving a settlement.

That wasn’t the case at the Jan. 2 meeting, Brown said.

“We had two parties to the litigation who were at great odds over this particular contentious matter,” said Brown referring to Heights Oil Watch, that put the initiative on the ballot and oil companies that were opposing it.

Mike Hughes, president of Heights Oil Watch, said it’s “late in the game” to get the letter but it shows there was a violation.

“It’s typical of the council’s reaction,” Hughes said. “They just ignore us. They have their own agenda.”

This isn’t the first time the District Attorney’s Office has sent a letter to the city, complaining about a violation of the open-meeting act, also known as the Ralph M. Brown Act.

In 2003, City Council members and Planning Commissioners were accused of illegally communicating by email about proposals to revise the general plan.

In 2009, a letter was sent to then-Councilman Howard Vipperman saying an e-mail he sent to then-City Attorney Sandra Levin asking to not take public comments on one agenda item, could have led to a violation of the state’s open-meeting law. Levin rejected his proposal.

In 2013, the Planning Commission was accused of not allowing a resident to speak at a meeting and the council was accused of approving spending by email. On the latter, City Manager Shauna Clark said there was no violation because she approved the spending for a surveillance system at City Hall on her own without council approval.

Source: Whittier Daily News

WDN High School Football Top 5

La Habra's Eric Barriere

La Habra’s Eric Barriere is the area’s top returning quarterback. He’s a reason why the Highlanders begin the season ranked No. 2 in the area. La Mirada is No. 1 (Correspondent photo by Chris Burt/Sports)


Strengths: The Matadores are loaded. La Mirada has been able to fill the void of graduation losses with some elite transfers, mainly receiver/defensive back Micah Croom (Servite), defensive lineman Keanu Salepaga (Long Beach Cabrillo) and quarterback Tevaka Tuioti (Long Beach Poly). They combine with some solid returners, including running back Sei-j Lauago to make the Matadores a formidable force in the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division. Very few teams in the Suburban League and in the division will be able to match up athletically with La Mirada, which could lead to one of the school’s best seasons in recent memory.

Obstacles: The schedule that coach Mike Moschetti has laid out for his team might be the team’s biggest challenges. It’s a doozy. It starts with state power St. John Bosco, which was ranked No. 19 nationally by MaxPreps.com. The slate also features traditional powers Charter Oak and Mater Dei. La Mirada concludes the nonleague portion of its schedule at San Clemente. If La Mirada doesn’t get it’s psyche damaged too much going through murderer’s row, it should come out of it hardened for a strong league and playoff run. La Mirada also has to adapt to its incoming transfers. If it can come together quickly, this could be a special season.

Outlook: It all comes down to whether or not the Matadores can win their last game, something that has alluded them despite being very talented. They were 9-2 last season, but fell short of expectations with a first-round playoff loss. La Mirada has featured a lot of visits from Division I college coaches in recent years, but eventually you have to live up to the hype. This seems like a team very capable of doing that. Will it? Time will tell.


Strengths: The Highlanders, after averaging 43 points a game last season, are again expected to be a juggernaut on offense. They return some key components, led by arguably the area’s top quarterback in senior Eric Barriere. He accounted for more than 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and you can expect him to improve on those numbers this year. Another year of receiver Prince Ross should scare opposing defenses. The offensive line is solid.

Obstacles: La Habra’s Achilles’ heel last season was its defense, or lack of it. The Highlanders inability to slow the opposition down eventually led to an early playoff exit. They need big improvement in that area this season. They’ve added some good impact players on defense, but the question whether it will make a difference remains to be seen. There’s also a question at running back with Carlos Martin graduated.

Outlook: This is a team that comes into the season as one of the favorites in the Southwest Division. Barriere is as good as it gets in the area and in the division. The question is whether the Highlanders can replace Martin and get similar production. The defense, led by All-CIF linebacker Jake Colacion, also needs to improve. All signs point to a possible division title.


Strengths: The Lancers might be the best running team in the area, and that will again be their forte this season. Jonathan Wise is a key returner at receiver. The defense, which often gets overlooked, should be solid, led by senior Daniel Campos at linebacker.

Obstacles: For the second consecutive season, the Lancers, with Enrique Pacheco graduated, must find a quarterback. Justin Moreno and Kenny Coleman will vie for the spot, but it’s unknown if they can live up to what Frankie Palmer and then Pacheco did the past two seasons.

Outlook: The Lancers are usually the last team standing in the area. That might not be the case this season, with juggernauts La Mirada and La Habra expecting strong seasons, but this looks like another unit that can add to La Serna’s recent tradition of long playoff runs. The run game and defense will be there, and if they get some production from quarterback, another run at a division title seems to be in the Lancers’ future.


Strengths: The Raiders will again feature one of the top running attacks in the area. They rushed for 3,000 yards last season and that type of production is expected again. Running back Jacob Fimbres returns after gaining 1,622 and most of the offensive line is back at well. Sonora should also be productive in the passing game, which will make its run game that much tougher to defend.

Obstacles: Sonora is young on defense, including in the secondary. It’s a unit that could be its downfall, especially in a Freeway League that features some pass-happy teams such as La Habra and Buena Park. If the group can come together, it could be a special year. But it’s a major question mark to begin the season.

Outlook: The Raiders started strong last season, then fell off the map. They have enough quality players back that a quest to make the playoffs should become a reality. This is a team that if everything falls into place, it can compete for the league title. But the first step would be getting to the postseason, which should happen.


Strengths: The Oilers leaned on its run game last season and rode it to an Almont League title. It will be more of the same this season. Isaac Mendibles was the area’s top back in 2014, rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns, and he’s back for more this season. Most of the offensive line, which paved the way for the senior, is also back. Montebello is also solid on defense, and it’s those two traits that will lead to success again.

Obstacles: Montebello lost some key players to graduation and it must fill those holes to succeed. It could be a slow start, especially with a schedule that includes CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division semifinalist Northview and finalist Paraclete. If it can come together quickly this is a team that will be a tough out late in the season. But it’s a concern early on.

Outlook: The Oilers won the league title and advanced to the Mid-Valley quarterfinals last season. They return some key skilled players and this looks like a team that can improve on its 2014 run. Another league title and a deep playoff run looks to be in Montebello’s future.

La Habra gets its first bar for craft beer lovers

Cask & Hammer - La Habra, Ca

David Mora pours a glass of beer at his newly-opened craft beer bar in La Habra– Cask and Hammer.
Photo by PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER – David Mora, who has opened up a craft beer bar on Harbor Bl. 

Locals are buzzing about Cask & Hammer, La Habra’s first craft beer bar.

Owner David Mora didn’t expect about 100 comments when he posted a picture on Instagram of the bar’s logo and the bar’s opening date, July 24.

Let’s go try this place out.

Take me here!!

It’s already on my calendar!

The first day of business drew a standing room-only crowd, said Mora, 29, who opened the bar with his father, Raymond Mora.

Craft beer is exploding all over the United States, and particularly in California: the Golden State ranks No. 1 with the most craft breweries in the nation and the biggest economic impact, raking in $6.5 billion in 2014, according to California Craft Brewers Association. The number of craft breweries in the state is up 60 percent, at 431 of the businesses in 2014, compared to 270 in 2011, according to the Brewers Association.

Richard Garcia of La Habra said that he went to the Cask & Hammer during its first week, after learning about the bar through Facebook. Garcia, 35, left one of the first Yelp reviews for the business – positive, of course.

“In La Habra you don’t have anything like this, that offers craft beer,” Garcia said. “You have to go to Red Robin to get Stone IPA on tap.”

La Habra’s bars are old-school, serving domestics like Budweiser and maybe a few Mexican brews.

Cask & Hammer is a little different. Murals of Los Angeles, La Habra and a barrel room adorn the walls, designed by a street artist who Mora saw painting electrical boxes in downtown L.A.

There are 30 rotating beers on tap, mostly from Southern California and Orange County, such as Stone, The Bruery, Left Coast, Bootlegger’s, Ballast Point and Golden Road.

Still, some customers are disappointed that Mora doesn’t serve mainstream labels like Coors or Budweiser. He tries to get them to try something similar – maybe a lager from Glendale’s Golden Road or a Mexican-style ale from San Clemente’s Left Coast.

Mora, who is living in downtown Los Angeles as he completes an MBA at USC, said he got some flack after telling people that he was opening a bar in La Habra. But, the monthly rent is about $2,000 less when compared to downtown Los Angeles or Uptown Whittier.

“Everybody was telling me it’s never going to work in La Habra,” said Mora, who grew-up in nearby Whittier. “I’m like, that’s not true.”

Like much of North Orange County, La Habra is an under-served market for restaurants, particularly because it’s far from any major freeway, said Greg Stoffel, a retail analyst from Irvine. In 2013, the city’s restaurants brought in $1,535 per capita compared to the county average of $1,996 per capita, according to state data analyzed by Stoffel.

“That means it’s not doing well now, but there’s plenty of potential,” Stoffel said. “If (Cask & Hammer) turns out to be good – even better, then it can have a wider draw.”

Mora’s bar could already have that wide draw. Michelle Dominguez drove about 30 miles from the Highland Park area of Los Angeles to visit Cask & Hammer.

“I actually found them on Instagram before they even opened up and I thought it was amazing that someone is bringing only cask and craft beer to La Habra, especially since no one else has that out there,” Dominguez said.

On a recent weekday, Mora was at the bar before it opened, taking a delivery of Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin.

Larry Johnson, 23, saw the sign as he drove by, recognizing it from Instagram. He walked inside and asked Mora if he could look around.

“I’ve been telling everyone about it,” Johnson said.

Mora says that happens quite a bit.

“I’m worried this place might actually be too small for how excited people are,” he said with a laugh. “People refuse to leave during the week.”

1 2 3 4 24