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Meet David and Samantha Ochoa of The Empire Tavern in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to David and Samantha Ochoa.

David and Samantha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My wife and I were both Managers at Starbucks Coffee Company when I became interested in Craft Beer. I began homebrewing about six years ago and started looking into ways to become part of that community. I was president of The Yeastside Brewers Homebrew Club and got a job as a beer buyer for a Craft Beer Bottle shop and Bar. Always wanting more, the opportunity to purchase an old dive bar in Burbank seemed like the perfect way to further my dream. We purchased Jimmy’s Place and transformed it into The Empire Tavern and have created a neighborhood bar that serves the finest Craft Beer, Wine and Cider. We are three months in and are excited for the further growth of our business.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been smooth but there were definitely some bumps in the road. When we started construction, we planned to maintain some of the previous elements of the bar. As construction progressed, we knew everything had to be replaced and redone. The building has been a bar since the 1950’s (I believe it started as Coat Of Arms as the sign is a shield and sword, somewhat fitting for The Empire Tavern) and it was really run down. We were able to bring out some of the character of the old building and bring in some warm reclaimed wood and industrial accents. The blend of style is sort of an industrial log cabin that is an inviting and comfortable space for people to gather and meet in the neighborhood.

Please tell us about The Empire Tavern.
We are all about craft beer! The Empire Tavern is a neighborhood bar that features an ever-rotating lineup of the Finest Craft Beer available from California and beyond. We feature styles of beer for all tastes and seek out the finest examples of those styles from breweries large and small. We also featured a curated lineup of Wine and Cider to appeal to different tastes. We work with a local bakery, Miracle Bakery, to offer empanadas as a great snack to have with our amazing beer. We also work with Homeboy Industries to offer tasty Large Soft Pretzels and Jalapeno Pretzel Bites. I am most proud of the sense of community and support we have received since we have opened. Our regulars and local customers have really welcomed us to the neighborhood and I really enjoy meeting them and seeing people meet each other as they share a passion for good beer. We are all about creating a great experience, having a friendly and knowledgeable staff and having the finest Craft Beer available.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite moments was watching my dad’s cousin, Ellen Ochoa, become the first Hispanic woman to go into space. I was able to take a trip with my grandma and uncle and we watched the launch and landing of the Discovery Space Shuttle. It is truly something special to see her dream come to live and it was an amazing experience to be a part of.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
David Lopez at Optical Viewfinder

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