Mike Goodwin remembers the mid-1980s as if it were yesterday. Sporting a long ponytail, he rode around Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and hosted large house parties almost every weekend.
“I was always the person throwing the keggers in high school,” Goodwin says with a laugh. “The idea of getting people together to smile and laugh is what has kept me in this business for so long.”
From New Mexico to Las Vegas, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and now South Florida with the recent opening of Crazy Uncle Mike’s, Goodwin, 55, has owned and operated more than a dozen restaurants, bars and nightclubs. He’s opened sports bars, cocktail lounges, sushi restaurants and pizza joints, as well as managed punk rock and live music spots. He even helped launch the now-shuttered Las Vegas restaurant and club OPM with Wolfgang Puck.
“I started working right out of high school,” he says. “I was always interested in music and managed to parlay that into a career in nightlife and hospitality.”
As Goodwin, who is one of nine siblings, spent much of his time traveling the country and running venues around the world—including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana—his 22 nieces and nephews gave him the nickname “Crazy Uncle Mike.”
“It’s funny because I was the one who would show up to all the Christmas parties and family events with my long ponytail and my motorcycle,” he says.
But as Goodwin settled down, married and had three daughters, he grew tired of being away from his loved ones. About two years ago, he moved his family to Boca Raton and decided to open a different kind of restaurant—a place that united the Goodwin on a Harley-Davidson and the Goodwin with a family.
“All my life I’ve been trying to find places that entertain me,” he says. “As I get older, I’ve realized that I want to be in a place where the food, music, people and ambiance are higher quality without being pretentious.”
Crazy Uncle Mike’s, which Goodwin opened in October in east Boca Raton, is a brewery, restaurant and live music venue. With more than 9,000 square feet, it includes a full-service kitchen, a steam-powered brewhouse and a state-of-the-art stage.
“Crazy Uncle Mike’s probably comes to mind as a lot less refined than it actually is,” he says. “That’s the point. It’s actually a really quality place, not a neighborhood sports bar. People probably expect pub fare, but we want to show customers that we’re way more than they expect.”
Brewmaster Cory Wilson is behind a handful of exclusive suds, including Take the Sour Back, a New England IPA with hints of sour grapefruit, and the O.B.D., an English-style oatmeal porter with a sweet caramel and nutty flavor.
As for the food, executive chef Tara Abrams offers a menu of elevated bar bites, including sopressata-wrapped pretzels with beer mustard sauce, purple potato skins with crème fraiche, pork belly tacos with a kung pao glaze and grilled skirt steak with yucca mash. There’s also a selection of “brinner” (breakfast-dinner) items, from sweet potato pancakes with crispy fried chicken, to bacon and eggs with beer-braised pork belly and creamy polenta.
Besides the food and drinks, the live music is most important to Goodwin. “We’re growing our music nightly,” he says. “It’s a very music-centric place. We spent a lot of time making the stage and sound system. My love of music is what drives me with all of my projects.”
As Crazy Uncle Mike’s settles in, Goodwin looks forward to the possibility of expanding.
“Right now, the goal is to see if this will be as much of a success as we think it will be,” Goodwin says. “If it is, we’ll definitely consider taking the brand further.”