Covid19 has claimed Mike Gotovac, bartender for 50 years at Dan Tana’s. As Kevin would say: fuck.
Rest In Peace…
Fuck!!! I loved his martinis.
Thank you for the memories. R.I.P.
So sad. Just had a martini from him a few months ago.
Horrible. I remember a night drinking there till 2 AM with friends. I was having tea. He didn’t blink an eye. Rest In Peace.
Miljenko “Mike” “Dida” Gotovac’s generous heart stopped beating on May 14, 2020, age 76. The son of Miše and Boja Gotovac, he was born on December 2, 1943 in the village of Lećevica, Croatia. He grew up amongst the rocky karst of the Dalmatian hinterland where he matured into a man of family, faith, and Croatian patriotism.
In 1964, due to the poor economic conditions in what was then Communist Yugoslavia, he become part of the wave of young Croatian men, “Gastarbeiters,” that travelled to Germany for work. In 1967, he found himself on his way to Los Angeles, California, where he became a member of the tight-knit Croatian-American community. As indicated by the photographic record: Croatia, soccer, celebration and the racetrack were the order of the day.
In 1968 he started working at Dan Tana’s restaurant, quickly making his way to the bartender’s stool, where he reigned as the resident curmudgeon for over 50 years, still working there until the time of his illness.
In 1973 he married Milojka. Together they had three sons, Matija, Domagoj, and Milian. His passions, soccer and Croatian freedom, were a major part of his life. He was a player and longtime president of San Pedro Croat Soccer Club. He was a broadcaster on the Croatian Radio Program, put out by St. Anthony Croatian Catholic Church, where he was a parishioner. He was also a founding member of the Croatian-American Club.
He had the great fortune to witness the long-held dream of Croatia emerging as a free state after the collapse of Communism in Europe. It is difficult to put in words the gravity of that moment, to see the “1000-year dream” come true. It was something that animated the spirit of the entire community, our family, and especially our father.
He played hard, but he worked even harder. Working hard and providing were defining characteristics of his personality. As just one example, when he was having a dental procedure that required sedation, and the dentist told him he would need someone to drive him home, he responded “What home, I have to go to work,” and told the dentist to just give him something to grip instead. Classic Mike.
He put others’ interests ahead of his own, especially his family, to which he was completely devoted.
With Croatia free, and the Croatian national soccer team holding its own in the World Cup scene, he was able to mellow a bit. He absolutely lived for his granddaughters, catering to their every whim. He followed them around the house with plates of fruit, snacks, and food like a doting grandmother. He particularly enjoyed the introduction of a new baby, Beatrix, to the family. His patience with them, and his joy in seeing them happy, well-fed, and entertained, were boundless.
He had a strong constitution with a remarkable threshold for tolerating pain. As a rule, he suffered in silence. In his final fight, this strength seemed like it was going to succeed as he withstood successive attacks from his illness. However, in the end the illness had a trick that strength and will could not counter.
He lived a full life and experienced all its joys. However, his passing is no less tragic as he was still a pillar of support for his family, and he never got the chance to fully retire, release himself from life’s obligations, and enjoy his remaining years quietly with his girls. We will miss his barbeque, laughter, wisecracks and storytelling. Most of all, we will just miss his presence. We love you, Dida.
He is survived by his wife, Milojka, his sons Matija (Anastasia), Domagoj and Milian, granddaughters Emelia, Iva and Beatrix, brother Ivica, sisters Anka and Dragica, and numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents and sister Ivka.
The family will hold private services; however, Mike has left instructions for a party, details to follow. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
the best bartender of all time, too many memories…sad day.
I’m ordering take out tonight in memory.
@kevin comes out of “retirement” to pen this touching obituary #salinger-esque. I just texted him. We all feel the sadness.
Nice! I had no idea they were back open for takeout. They sadly closed shop pretty soon after the shutdown. I’ve been jonesing for their caesar and chicken parm.
And as for Mike, I’m about 90% sure he made my first ever proper (i.e., gin with a twist) martini.
Could not stop crying. What a legend and a truly great guy. I’ve been going to Tana’s since I was a kid and am a card carrying member of the back door club. Thursday nights were always Mike’s night and if you wanted to sit at the bar you better be there by 4:30. He had a legion of devoted followers and I was one of them. He would always greet me “hello young man” even though I am well into my 50s and he would have an overflowing bucket glass of Casamigos in front of me before my rear hit the stool. He was funny, beyond generous and still pounding shots to the end. He lived life fully, loved his family, loved Croatia and for the most part loved his patrons. He was one of a kind and I will never forget him. Tana’s will remain a staple (hopefully) but it will never be the same.
50 Year Award Celebration from the City of West Hollywood. Cant tell from the picture but the place was packed to the brim.
Pick up last night in honor
Mike was my favorite thing about living in la and dining out, he will be so missed.
On my way to pick up Chicken Parm, Tana’s salad and steamed clams. Having a shot for Mike!
Did pickup tonight. They were running 40+ mins behind and somehow everyone was in a great mood waiting, similar to when they’re 30 mins late seating you for a reservation. Can’t think of another restaurant where that’s the case and it’s still a pleasure. Most importantly, the veal parm and Caesar were worth it.
Pure Kevin, “the grizzled, distinctively mustachioed septuagenarian with an acerbic wit for the ages and the warmest of hearts despite his gruff, no-nonsense exterior.”
I really enjoy his writing