Jan. 26, 2021

S1E7 - From a touring artist to a first time bar owner with Daniel Gonzalez owner of The Cleat

S1E7 - From a touring artist to a first time bar owner with Daniel Gonzalez owner of The Cleat

On our first episode of 2021, we chat with Daniel Gonzalez, one of the partners at Boater’s Grill and The Cleat Miami.  Not only are these venues unique because they are one of the first to obtain a liquor license in a State park, but they also happen to offer a beautiful view of the sunset in Miami (which is usually only seen on Florida’s west coast).

We discussed his transition from being a touring artist to a first time bar owner, and what it was like opening up a new venue during a pandemic.

Episode Notes

Learn more about Daniel:

Boater’s Grill: http://lighthouserestaurants.com/ https://www.instagram.com/boatersgrill/ https://www.facebook.com/boatersgrill/

The Cleat: https://www.instagram.com/thecleat/

The Jacuzzi Boys: https://www.youtube.com/user/jacuzziboys https://sptfy.com/jacuzziboys


Join us every Tuesday as we interview the best hospitality professionals from around the world to find out what they do, and why they succeed. 

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Welcome to WISKING IT ALL. We're here today with Danny Gonzalez, from the Cleat Miami. Danny, thank you for being here.

How's it going, man?

Good , it's a pleasure to have you. I remember the first time we met actually I was super fascinated, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that you guys were the first venue in the United States to have a liquor license in a state park. Is that right?

 I think we are. And if not, we're like number two or three. you know, but yeah. it's not a common thing.

No, it's amazing because one of the things that's really interesting about,  the concession of venues that you have in the Cape Florida state park, is that it's exactly that, that it's in a state park. And so the first time even I came, I was really impressed just to see, the restaurant and then the new bar, which we'll get into it in a second.

And it's right on the water, and know Miami and Biscayne ,at Key Biscayne, I should say. So I guess maybe to just start off, tell us a bit about all the concessions, but then we can jump specifically into the Cleat, which I know is more of your baby, so to speak.

 So there's two restaurants in the park. The first one was lighthouse cafe, which you haven't been to, it's on the beach side and it's more focused towards like beach goers. So I mean, things have changed a little bit since COVID, but traditionally there was like more prepared foods, more like focusing on like sandwiches.

And we had hot plates. There wasn't as much as like table service, as you've seen at Boater's Grill. A little bit different approach, but very much the same vibe, it's like an outdoor wooden deck. It looks very similar vibe. That was the first one and that started off as a little shack on the beach when we first took over the concessions. That was just there, the park just had that. And then a few years later we built what you'd see now as the restaurant, the lighthouse cafe. And it's cool. It's you can see the light house if you're dining in the deck area.

And you're steps away from the beach. Then there's And Boater's, which is the one you went to and it's at the Harbor. And we're just kinda like opposite ends of the park. It's a lot closer to the entrance.  And Boater's, while obviously you could still drive up to it like you did, it obviously has the boater access, hence the name Boater's Grill.

Yeah. So from my understanding, when I was there,  just to paint an image to the listeners, it's a Harbor front really. So you have all these boats that are just hanging out or whatever that kind of just stopped by and parked their boat there. And they'll, if I understand correctly, they can get the service to the boat or do they come to Boater's Grill? Or how does that work?

It depends how busy we are. And some servers have developed friendships with sorta like regular customers. And they'll take stuff down to the boat, but it gets like super busy and especially if you happen to be like, tied up at the very end, it's just 

right, and then, so now so those. Makes sense. And so those are two of the venues, and  I know the latest project, I've been lucky enough to be there and that it's such a cool venue. I think it's still a hidden gem. But if anyone has a chance to go, the Cleat Miami, maybe tell our listeners a bit about the Cleat, the concept behind it, the inspiration and, paint that picture.

Yeah.  Once the state approved the liquor license, the park kinda just gave us permission to take over that's the structure that it's stationed in. Cause that building was always there and that was  just called shelter 19. I know it was just like that sort of roof with picnic tables underneath a water fountain, it had power and there was like some grills out. It was just like for public use.  I'm not sure how it worked at the park, exactly, I think you could reserve it if you want it to and pay a fee.

But for the most part, it was just like first come first serve.   There was like a lot of shrubs. It was like really messy out there. And they just told us that we could take that over. So we built the bar itself inside and cleaned out the space and brought in all that sand and built a Tiki and all that, but um, yeah it's a pretty impressive location.

The view there, I don't think you can beat it. You're just to paint the picture. You're literally on the water, the sunsets there are unreal. You're having a drink at this beautiful bar and there's all kinds of, tables right outside.

And like I said, you're literally on the water. So it almost feels like you're on vacation, a sense. Cause you forget that you're still, in Miami which it would just kinda cool.

Someone, a friend of mine he's now become a friend, but he's done some work for us at the bar.  He built our bottle display case and he's built  what houses, the merch and this other piece of furniture that just serves as a little storage for any sort of paperwork that we have, like sits right outside the bar.

And he built this table at surrounds one of the trees out there. But anyway, the first time he came, he pointed something out, which I thought was interesting.  He says the space and the location is like simultaneously very Miami while being a very rare thing in Miami. 

If you're not from here, you think that the city is just littered with all these beachfront or waterfront  locations with the sunset. It's kind of harder to come across then you'd imagine, there are that, some on the water is also on the river, which is really cool, but like the way that we have it it's a rare thing.

Last time I was there I had the chance to chit chat with your dad and hear his story.

 I'm always fascinated when people come from another country, immigrate to the States and build something from nothing. So I'd love to hear that, and then we'll get into, your journey. 

Yeah.  I don't know all the details surrounding him getting into the park. The people that ran the concessions beforehand were in the family, some kind of distant relatives. And the guy was running, he was older.

And I think he'll just looking to retire and sell the business per se. But like a private business, but it's also through the state. So you still have to have a contract. 

Yeah, you own  the name of the business, but it's not like you own the land that you don't own building, but anyways, When he got here to Miami, his uncle had like a chain of discount stores that he worked in forever from being like a stock boy to managing one, to then managing a bunch.

And then he eventually moved over to the warehouse and then he left that for whatever reason. And there was  a restaurant opportunity that presented itself on mainland Miami, we went in on that without any sort of restaurant experience .

The closest thing was like working at a bodega in New York,  behind the counter, like slicing, deli, meat and stuff. you know? 

That's crazy. You know what attracted him to go into it the first time? Was it just the opportunity and building?

It was just like, he had this job that he had worked at forever and he just need to do something, I dunno. if it was necessarily like this like passion food.  

He went in with a partner and we had that for a few years. And then that eventually just just didn't work out for whatever reason they split ways. So then it was okay now what you know , and then the concessions were going to become available and it was like, Oh yeah, we can give that a try, and  like growing up, my family would never take me to South beach to go swimming.  That's kinda like you go to that park to go to the beach. 

And so how long ago was this? And your father just for context, came from Cuba originally. And then some time in New York and then Miami and I love it right, that entrepreneur mentality and

Costa Rica for a few years and probably like fully moving to the States, just cause there was like, I left Cuba and had settled there. But yeah, it's basically Cuba, Costa Rica, New York, Miami.

Got you. And then, so Miami works his way up, sees this opportunity, which I love. It doesn't always have to start with passion. It could just start with opportunity which is amazing, kind of jumps in head first. So the state park, if I'm not mistaken, this was at least 15, 20 years ago, if not more.

  Yeah, I think when I was like 15 and I'm 40 now.

  So 25. Yep. That makes sense. Wow. I think it's pretty amazing that he really saw that opportunity and it's just interesting, right? Cause like hindsight's 20, 20, right? If people see it now, it's Oh my God, this is amazing.

They're like, look at this location, but I'm sure, 25 years ago you had to have the vision to take over concessions in the state park that didn't have a liquor license yet. Like that's

I don't know. Yeah, that just happened right now. I know what you mean. Yeah. It's easy to be like, Oh my God, this is amazing. But yeah it's really been built from the ground up,  like I said, when we took over, it was just a shack on the beach.  It was just like the way it was, but it was pretty much the kind of like hot dogs you'd see, like at a seven 11 that are just rotating, crappy pizza, you know, just general bar type food, but  there was no real kitchen.

And yeah, he loves saying how like, when he had the idea of doing like rice and beans and more traditional Cuban, or just like the Latin cuisine, people were like, you're crazy. Who's going to want to come to the beach to eat rice and beans, or like a steak or whatever, but it's just what he knows, so he thought like, if I go to the beach, I want to eat rice and beans.

 It worked out and I can testify to the fact that the food is awesome. Last time I was there, I was lucky enough. I had a delicious soup kind of seafood soup, weighted together. 

Delicious. Delicious. Okay.  I think it's really cool. And I think the lesson here is sometimes trusting your gut, seeing something, even though maybe other people don't see it. Like that entrepreneurial instinct is super key because, I can imagine right.

30 years ago. It's easy to look at it now, like I was saying, but to see this opportunity of, a seven 11 type place and imagining what it could be. And now with the expansion of the Cleat, I think that's awesome. One of the things I want to get into is your background, right?

So what's interesting about you and this is one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is number one, there's this, originality of this, state park and one of the first liquor licenses in the state and this kind of angle. But the other thing that I find interesting is.

Unlike a lot of our guests, you haven't been in hospitality forever. And it's in a positive way.  I think it's awesome. I think  a lot of listeners will be able to relate because I'm sure we hear the stories and it's amazing where people knew it's in their blood.

It's in their passion. They've been at it for 20 years. But. We've had some guests where it's they're just know they just started a business. They've been in for two years. And that's been interesting to share those learnings still being in the juice, but your perspective is going to be interesting because.

Your dad has been in it. It's been a family thing, but you've been doing your own thing, which we'll get into. And then you've only been in the last few years. And so that, that's an interesting angle that I think people could relate to who maybe weren't in hospitality, many years later after a certain career or thinking of jumping into it.

So why don't we start off with your background?  Let's take it back to the twenties: what were you doing? University, and then what was your trajectory? Cause I always love to hear the how people got to where they got to.

My twenties, yeah, just I don't know if I went to school, I worked at like an art museum for a while, worked at the public library for a while. 

Yeah. And and what were you studying in school? Just out of curiosity, I'm always curious to see if it matches what people studied.

 It was photography, but more like history photography. So yeah, just like art related, yeah. With a focus on photography.  Yeah, did that and then my late twenties, which was like around 2000, I guess 2007, I started playing in a band and that's pretty much what's been happening from then till now up until COVID  touring and recording and  doing that sort of circuit. There's been like little breaks and gaps in between,  but for the most part, it's pretty much been like a consistent thing since 2012.

Whether it was like traveling, whether it was touring in the States or Europe or we've been to Australia at one time. So yeah, it was pretty much just that just like the band took up most of my time.

And out of curiosity, what instrument or a role were you playing in the band?

Uh, I play bass guitar in the band

Okay, nice. And for our listeners who are curious,  what is the name of the man?

Jacuzzi boys.

I love it. That's a good name. Jacuzzi boys. Okay. So for those who are listening, definitely check it out. 

I'm going to check it out to you. Jacuzzi boys. That's awesome. 

And they, sometimes with the names, I don't know why conjures up a dance party kind of vibe or something, but it's very much like a straightforward rock and roll band.

Gotcha. That's super interesting, right? Because so you graduated from university, you get into this band and, it's not an easy task to get to the point where you're getting booked and touring, even if it's, maybe, maybe not super international, but going to Australia, going to Europe, traveling through the States is still a pretty big deal, again, getting booked.

To do some cool stuff. Like this past year. We went on, we played a bunch of shows with one of Jack White's parents at the Raconteurs. We opened up a bunch of dates for them. And  yeah, we've done some pretty significant shows. It always felt like we were out of our league,  but, I guess we've been doing it for quite a while, so it all it's so thought like, all right I guess we put in the work, 

Right. And I think that, you know what there's something to be learned there. It's like that idea of just putting in the work, putting in the work and you don't look back. And then when you do look back, you realize, Oh, wow. I've came pretty far, but even personally that's how it's always been with me.

Like when I think about WISK it's theoretically what? 2014. So six years coming up on seven years and for me, it doesn't feel like seven years because you just keep going. And then you look back.

How old is WISK?

Officially. Like, when I started with the idea, was the end of 2014, I remember like pitching it to a bar and understanding like how they're doing inventory and why it's a pain. And for me, when it hit me, I was trying to understand. Why are so many people doing it on pen and paper and if not Excel, because there were some other systems, right?

It's not like we were the first versus them, but I couldn't understand why they weren't using these other systems. And the short answer was that these other systems were hard or painful to use that people would try it and then go back to pen and paper Excel, so for me at first, and to be perfectly honest, like I, when I started, I wasn't like, Oh, I'm going to build this big business.

I was just like, I'm a very curious person. I love learning. Like I genuinely love to learn. And for me, I just want to solve a problem. And I was just like, I wonder if I can solve something and it started off with the idea and kind of paper and yeah, the screens and imagining it and talking to restaurants and bars, and then slowly kind of invested a bit of money to get a prototype done.

And then the rest, goes on.  But the point was when it first started was really just curiosity and trying to just solve a problem for an industry I was passionate about. 

Yeah, going back to you. I think that's super awesome. So you're in the band, you're touring right. The last 10 plus years which is super cool. 

How does that shift happen? Cause  I think a catalyst in a sense was COVID, but I think it's super interesting to understand how did that transition happen and then I'd love to get into the actual,  transition itself.

Yeah. It's simple. It really was, at least for me to be as involved as I am now because. Throughout the years, I've always helped here and there. I don't know if I can give you examples, and maybe not so much with ideas, but just helping them actually even just Hey, can you do this or that?

Or you used to go to pick something up.  Obviously if I was able to, I've always helped. And when I was like younger,  I worked at the restaurants, I was like behind the counter serving drinks or whatever ringing people up, just whatever needed to be done.

And it's funny, the timing of it all, because we had a month long tour booked that was going to go from like mid April to mid may, roughly.  

Were was it out of curiosity?

It was gonna be in the States

U.S,  and that was at the peak of lockdown, obviously a tour works where you book stuff way in advance.

So we had this tour booked before Corona virus. Honestly the bar was already set in motion and I was helping out, like I brought to these like friends of mine, these guys Son and sons, which is like their agency, to do branding stuff.

Cause I wanted it to just feel different than the restaurants.  The vibe is very similar and I wanted it to be while it's still ours, I wanted to just have like its own identity. So yeah, I brought them on. So I was on board and helping with ideas and talking to them and whatever.

But in my mind, I'm like, okay I'm going to be gone and we didn't really have an exact date for when the bar was going to open, we had some stuff to do. So just waiting for the license to get approved. There's like a lot of boring stuff, so it was okay I'm going to help out as much as I can.

And then, the band will go on and do what we do. And then by the time I come back, if we're open, then I'll help out while there's time off from the band. And if there's not, then I'll do whatever needs to be done. But it was straight up we passed our last inspection and I got a call from my mom being excited.

Like we're done, we can basically open this moment if we want it to, and then three hours later the park manager came by. And  I think my parents with some friends, they might've been  at the bar, having a little celebration. And the bar what wasn't fully done yet  and just  hours later, the park manager comes by and he's like, I have some bad news. Tomorrow's the last day we're going to be open. And I think, in the back of everyone's mind, the new like coronavirus was already happening, but it hadn't developed it.

And I guess maybe just thought Oh, things will be under control enough where we could open when we want  Like it kind moved quick, as everyone is aware.

  Jeez. Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride. I can't even imagine like from celebration and yes, we got approved to,


And because of being in the park and the way the park works. We were just closed. There was no takeout, there was no nothing. The park was just like, I don't know, two months or two and a half months.

 And then we reopened when the numbers dipped for a bit, it's a places where allowed to reopen again. And this, the state approved us to reopen. And We opened and that kind of lasted about a month and then the numbers like spiked again.

So it was like, Oh, we closed. And all this, I lose track. It's all been so weird that I forget like the length of time, but it was another two and a half months or however long, I don't even know.

So we finally now just have opened officially. even though we haven't done any sort of grand opening, we haven't really said anywhere that we're open. It's only just if you happen to get to the park or see it on a boat.

 And I've done that on purpose. I'm not trying to like really scream it out there,  but uh, I'm not sure the timing on that, how it coincides with the tour, but it got to the point where we're obviously canceling the tour. And then people thought it was gonna be like, okay, this will be like two months and then we'll reschedule,  and I remember being like we'll get some dates on for September. I'm like, I think it's just best if we just canceled everything. Cause I don't know. I just had a feeling, even at that time, it was, everyone was saying was gonna be two months.

He was like no, we should get dates on because promoters,  they want to keep the calendars like full and have holes and all that stuff. And I was like, all right if it gets better.  

And as we all know, there's still no real like live music happening anywhere. And while that kind of sucks. And it's pretty much put like a hard pause on the band, but it did let me be around for this opening and be fully hands-on from day one. It would have been pretty rough, my family and where I was working had I bounced out right at the start.

Cause it we would've opened right as I left for like a month. So yeah, It's funny how it all worked out, like some pros and cons, but ultimately it's a good thing, but I don't know. As far as the bar is concerned, there was a good thing.

Yeah. there you go. And it's interesting, right? Cause it's a lot of moving pieces, but in the end it's like timing made it so you're in it. And so I'd love to hear some of your experience as , let's say first time, bar owner. I think it's fresh in your mind. I know it's a bit different cause the building was there , but there was still things to do. There was still steps to take.

So what did some of the process look like? So it's okay, we got this idea uh, we want to open up another venue in that, building down there closer to the water, like what is that step one, look like.

Oh, man. I guess step one is really what is it going to look like?  At first we had ideas : Oh, maybe we just bring in a storage container that we convert into a bar and we can slide that storage container underneath that roof.

And just operate out of that,  I mean, you've been there, imagine like a story, just kind of butted up against that back wall.

And it kind of fit. it was like the perfect measurement, like a storage container could fit in there, like height wise and lengthwise.

And it was Oh, this seems cool. You coming through the back, So there was all these like, and then I was like, Oh no, maybe we make the bar like this shape or that shape or whatever, until we just decided it was going to be like what it is now.

And then did you do most things internally? I've spoken to venues who love to take things in house from design and branding and others that, are okay with outsourcing some of that in terms of experts, so to speak.

So what was your angle when it came to, The whole kind of building of the brand, the idea, even the name, right? Where did you guys come up with the name the Cleat.

Well, actually my mom came up with the name. We were tossing all these names back and forth, not just amongst like the family, but I would ask friends who would come by and like, I think the seawall was a strong contender for a while.

Cause if you're standing inside the bar and looking out to your left-hand side, that is what's called the seawall and like runs along that whole edge of the park. And it's like what people fish off of and stuff. 

What was the worst name? You remember? Any bad contenders? Not maybe not the worst, cause I don't want to call out a friend or something .

it's funny because what might be considered one of the worst names that was like a great name   and it's actually someone else's idea. , one of the guys that from Sons&Sons that's handled branding, they're the same guys that did Gramps and they're all friends of mine. So Mike had this idea to call the bar the horse, because it just seemed so odd  a bar called the horse on the water and it was like, there's like a that song by America,  i've been through a desert on a horse with no name.

 The harbour called the no-name Harbor. Not that we're like diehard fans of the song. Just kinda  like a funny joke. And my dad was like a big horse lover. He's like from the country in Cuba, he's rode horses all his life.

So my mom had put together a list of names. I don't know if she was looking at it through some sort of like nautical book or something, or boat related stuff. And she might've sent a list , but she just wrote the word Cleat. And cleat for those that don't know, it's like the little steel shaped thing, what you use to tie your boat to when you pull up to a Harbor.


And she shared that. So I looked at the list, let's say there was like five things on the list. It was just nah, I don't like any of these names.  Later on that day, For some reasons I was like, wait. And even just as simple as like adding the in front of it, it just seemed cool.

And it's just seemed like perfect. Like, Come tie yourself up to the bar. The Cleat and the boats are right there. And  it felt very appropriate without being obvious. Cause some people come to the bar and they're like, what's the bar's name? And we have a flag that has like the logo and it's that right there.

And they're like, what is that? And they're like, Oh, so it's cool. It's  somewhat of an insider thing.


I can imagine a lot of people, right? Like the majority of people who don't know much about, let's say boating in general, probably wouldn't know, at a first glance.

Yeah, they see it. And they're like, Oh of course that shape, the thing. But so yeah, when that kind of clicks. I still kept playing with in my mind. I was like, it's the Cleat. Like it 

has to be. 


In the list, then you took it around and then did you go, how do you guys go about agreeing, right? Cause obviously your dad's involved in mom's love you're involved. Is it Julio is involved, let's say,  but I guess that's more Boater's, but in general, how do you go around like green-lighting the name?

Was it just Hey, we're all in?  

While my folks are involved. When it comes to that sort of stuff. They'll give their opinion, but they're a little bit more  hands off when it comes to that, especially my dad. like, I would show, like I have an older brother and I would share with him. And he knows that Bernie and Mike and all those guys. I would definitely share with them. I wanted them to be excited. Cause they came with a bunch of names themselves and we would sit down and then discuss why these are cool names or not .

But I was like, I think we all decided on under the name, but it's not one of your hits. We haven't, but I wanted them to be excited. Cause I didn't want them to be like, Oh, like they're gonna have to work on branding for this thing.

 And they were, stoked on it. They were like, no that's pretty cool. 

Nice. So that's super interesting. So taking a step back, basically so new project, you see this opportunity, I guess the first step in a sense was, applying for whatever permits you needed and 



Thinking that the band was still gonna be like functioning. The way that it had been was I want to say, make this place, look, I meant more like branding wise and like a name and a cool logo and the way the menus might look and but I didn't even really expect to be hands-on like talking to distributors, which I do now, you know what I'm saying? I'm going to start to make sure this thing looks cool.  

That's so interesting. So basically, all the permits finally come up with a name. So what's the next step, right? Cause again you were new to it and that's a good thing cause there's going to be a lot of our listeners who are new to the game, which is normal, right?

 So you came up with the name, you hired this company. What were the next steps?  How did things go with branding and then construction? What the next steps actually look like?

Sure like getting the bar built. And you've seen it,  it's a pretty big bar and it's a terasse, it has all these sorta like angled. It's not just like a sort of 90 degree standard bar.

And that was also, that was, Sons&Sons idea. And  it's funny because a lot of people, when they come up, they're like, Oh my God, this bar is Oh, it's amazing. It's beautiful. Like this angle, it's not really traditional. 

So it looks like it's something that we like sorta went crazy to get all these like angles.

And I put all this thought into it, but  really the bar was going to be a standard bar and kind of last minute, one of the Sons&Sons guys just Hey, what if we just like, did this . That could be cool. And then people building it, they were like, yeah, we can handle that.

 So it wasn't this like crazy master plan. Like we're going to have this incredible looking bar, it's going to have all these funky angles. And, to me, the best stuff is always like that.

That's cool. And you know what, I'd love to get your perspective on some of the good and the bad, so obviously it's still pretty fresh, but what's interesting about you is you just got thrown into it in a sense . So what were some of the things, to start off that you didn't expect, right? So like now you came up with the name, work on construction, just maybe I think people will be able to relate or maybe at least, get an idea of what can possibly come up in the near future if they're working on something.

I dunno what comes to mind really? But I guess one thing for the amount of times that I spent at bars being a patron whether it's just for fun here in town or we're on tour, we're playing bars. You don't really take into consideration the way that the inside is laid out and what like the different things do.

And we've already realized like, Oh this definitely could have been better and this should have been smaller. We need to start somewhere. And while my family has been doing like restaurant stuff forever, no one's like familiar with the bar world.  Just like these weird little things that you don't take into consideration.

Yeah, and I guess you learn as you go but it's funny because I even mentioned it in the previous episodes, but just the idea of. Once you're on the other side. And, you just mentioned it there's 99% of things that have to go. Like from the experience, the vibe, maybe the music, the view, the drink itself, the vibe with the actual bartender,  so many things have to go, but from a client point of view, like you said, you're just kinda like cool. It was a good drink and I had a good time, but to have that good time, there's 99 things that have to go right before that, and , for me, that's a part I love there's so much passion that goes into hospitality in general restaurants, bars, or whatever, and to get that unique customer experience at the end,  is a pretty magical thing.

Yeah. We're still saying it's new it's like a brand new thing. And I still  have no idea what I'm doing. Definitely, I know more than I did day one know, but I still don't really know anything.

And there's so many things that need to be expanded on and tightened up and whatever, but it's funny,  not to bring up, but like Gramps, Adam  is an old friend of mine and I've definitely relied on him a bunch.

And I've asked him a bunch of questions, whether it's just like spirit related or the bar or whatever, just anything, and I think Graham's just turned 10, maybe last week it was like their 10 year anniversary.

Okay. I didn't know that. Well Adam, if you're listing congrats.  

10 years in hospitality is not easy.

And that kind of helps me, put things into perspective because sometimes I'm like, Oh man  I wish this was already this way. Or I wish we need to do this to the bar or  It'd be cool if we had this thing, but I can remember when Gramps opened, it was like that patio, like their outdoor space was just a huge gravel pit.

It was nothing but rocks. And remember that people would complain that the shoes will get ruined.

Few tables up there. There was like one like makeshift stage. And I remember my friends, I would DJ there occasionally. And it was just like one big powered speaker. There was no sound system . It was just like one speaker on a stage with  some random table and chairs, if you walk up to Gramps now, it's like this, everything is built out amazing outside, and it's all this plants and things are painted nicely. 

You know, I But like, this can take a while. When people love to show up and be like, Oh man, you should do, you should got to have this music.

And he thought about live bands  no, I know. 

And I think it's that idea of  like you said, like sometimes you don't realize what you do, you're just working and you're just fixing things and day-to-day, and you're going and you're going. And then when you look back, hindsight's Oh wow look at everything I've done, but, I guess the analogy is like climbing a mountain, it's one step at a time. And then you look back and you're like, wow, I'm pretty high. And that's pretty cool. Cause that's where you're at right now when you're climbing and you're learning and you're just taking it as it goes and I'm sure, even just.

Year one anniversary or year two, you'll look back and be like, wow, it's come a long way. And, that's pretty awesome.

Yeah. I just tend to be like, somewhat like anxious just in general, I get very Oh, that thing needs to get done now, you know? so like sometimes I find myself, like talking to myself, just being like, just chill. 

Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And  I'm thinking any closing advice, let's say for people listening. Of course, you always want advice from a mentor, right?

Like having someone like Adam from Gramps, I think is super important in this world, if you can have a mentor, like obviously you're gonna make your own mistakes no matter what, but if you can also learn from other's people's mistakes that helps, any closing words from you in the sense of   things you've learned or just advice.

The best thing was what we were just talking about. I'd say just take things one step at a time. Because it's easy to have all these great ideas, but you just try to do it all at once.  It gets overwhelming quick, especially if you're new to it, whether it's like a cost thing or just like logistically or whatever, so it's just like things will  

The learning there is just, it's okay to have a lot of ideas, but  you've got to get good at prioritizing and you got to have certain level of focus. Cause I guess sometimes if you try to do too many things, you get nothing done.

So it's how do you prioritize and how do you also have that patience knowing that. Hey, success doesn't happen overnight. This might take five years,  and you might be successful year to year, but the grand success might take five, 10, 15 years.  

Hopefully you continue to develop. It's not Yeah, we're finished.  Hopefully you're always adding to it or changing things or tweaking, or just trying new things.  

Yeah,  and I would imagine like most entrepreneurs, in any industry, but, hospitality is no exception. You're always evolving, your product and your vision to a certain perspective, whether it's expanding it, adding new locations or just reworking the branding or renovating, or, and if you don't, it's that catch 22 that I've seen. Now it's different because of COVID, prior to that, I've always had seen this kind of paradox in the hospitality space where if things are working, you don't want to change anything too much, so someone might be like, an old school place and it's super busy and  they don't want to renovate.

They don't want to do anything cause things are working. But then on the flip side, if things are not working, you're like  I can't afford it. So it's a tough balance, but it's finding that zone of investing where you can, so not getting too comfortable in what you have, knowing that, it might spirit, but on the flip side, not, not waiting till things are not good.

And then being like, ah, I wish I could renovate, but  

I feel like with everything, there's always exceptions to the rule because there are some amazing old bars. That I'm like, I hope nothing ever changed. And it's like this for the next hundred years, just no, please don't update anything. Don't try to add some cool new, whatever, just don't.  


I'm with you on that. I'm with you on that? I think my parallel there would be like, it doesn't necessarily have to be physical. So though, to those 

old school places, if they're winning on charm and vibe and energy, then they're maybe reinventing how they do inventory. Yeah. Honestly, it's like operational stuff but I think as a business you're always reinventing. Honestly, this is great. This is an awesome combo. And one of the ways we love to, to end the episode is called last day on earth.

And real simple, you don't have to overthink it. The idea is just hypothetically, it was your last day, what would be your go-to drink and what will be your go-to meal?

Am I having this drink at home?

Whatever you want , you can add the locate. It's more just just imagining what your drink would be and your meal, because I'd like to hear what hospitality professionals enjoy,

And it's not because we're talking about a bar that I'm now involved with, but I do think one of my like happiest places is sitting at the bar with a cool jukebox. That has all my sort of favorite classic rock country, soul type, R and B sort of selection and like a whiskey and a beer.

If  I'm sitting with someone I could talk to easily and I'm sitting at a bar and there's those kinds of like music selection on a jukebox. And I have just a Jamison and a Budweiser. That's like my dream night.So happy with that.  

That's awesome. And what about meal will be your last meal?

It'd probably be in Spanish, it's called like a it's called Vaca Frita , which  basically the straight up translation is fried cow.  It's basically shredded beef, and then it's kinda fried, but not not breaded fried, just like pan fried with Onions in it, and garlic and stuff, but that with the rice white rice and sort of plantains. When that's like on point it's I love it.

Yeah. That and/ or there's like this pizza place here in town called Frankie's pizza. It's been here since the fifties. It's out in  the suburbs but I'm obsessed with Frankie's pizza. And it's not like necessarily like it's fancy, but they sell it to half baked.

So you can you bring it home and you finish it off in your own at home. You can have it, you can take it  fully cooked if you want. But yeah, it would either be some sort of like Cuban thing like that or some Frankie's pizza.

That's amazing. That's amazing. I love it. I love it. Danny, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure speaking with you. And I I think you shed some light for a lot of people who are new to the industry.  It's been amazing to hear about your journey and, I know it's only the beginning of your journey in the hospitality space.

In terms of  really getting your feet wet. So it's super cool. For those who are going to be in Miami, definitely recommend checking out the Cleat. I've been there a few times and it's an awesome vibe, awesome drinks, and a  really,  

Go for it. Thanks for having me, man. Hopefully I'll see you. I'll see you next month. Maybe.

Yeah, I'll be back. I'll be back. I booked my flight to January 10th, so I'll see you in January.


You'll be back. We'll have a whole I'll have a whole list of questions.

Regarding no problem. No problem. 

Have a good rest of the day. 

Thank you.