TRU ROCK REVIVAL
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Mickey Byrnes Irish Pub Beer, Food, Live Music and Soccer!
In the heart of Downtown Hollywood, Florida, is a small Irish Pub that is well-known to soccer and music fans: Mickey Byrnes Irish Pub. This place has the feel of a typical European Irish pub and opened in 2008. Part of the charm is in the authentic Irish food, full bar, weekly soccer matches on large- screened tv’s, and a house-full of loyal, boisterous fans who also enjoy the great live music.
On this particular Saturday night, there's no featured soccer match to watch but nonetheless, the place is rocking. I notice several tables filled with families enjoying the great food and televised sports. I begin chatting with one young couple, Rick
and Linda, from Pembroke Pines, who frequent Mickey Byrnes on Saturday nights. Rick says he “loves the [vibe] and how the beer is always cold, and the food is great” I ask them what they are eating. "I'm having the Bangers & Mash. Linda is having the Shepherd's Pie. The food here is great. Very authentic." Said Linda, "we like coming here on Saturday nights because of the live music. Rick and I get here around 8 or 8:30, have dinner, some beers, and wait for the band to go on. It's such a cool place."
Seated at the bar I meet Dominic and James. Both are originally from Ireland and live in East Hollywood. "There's no other place quite like Mickey's. James and I come here a lot, especially after work. There's always a great crowd and we've met a lot of cool people here. Lots of hot women come in here too."
The owner and founder of Mickey Byrnes is Mark Rowe. Originally from Ireland, Mark has lived in the states since 2002. I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak to Mark about the pub, life and his future plans.
FM: Mark, obviously you’re not from Florida. Your accent? Tennessee? Canadian, eh?
Mark: (laughing) No, not Canadian and definitely not from Tennessee. I was born in West Ireland. Lived there for most of my life and then for a while, in Australia.
FM: When did you move to the states?
Mark: I moved to the states in 2002. It was something I had planned for a while.
FM: Is that when you first opened Mickey Byrnes?
Mark: No, actually, I worked in marketing and didn't get around to that for a few more years.
FM: Mickey Byrnes. When did you come up with plan to build this place? It’s great. Just the right size and it’s pretty damn popular with locals, especially during soccer matches.
Mark: Thanks. I really like it. I opened the pub in 2002 and I probably put the plans together several years before, but I didn't make the move until 2002.
FM: Was it always your dream to own your own pub?
Mark: After I had worked in the business for many years, I thought about one day opening my own pub. It's best to really learn the business inside and out before taking the plunge. So, I worked in different pubs for many years and really learned a lot from some great people. Where I really learned was when I worked as a bar back. That's where you meet some really interesting and important people.
FM: As a bar back?
Mark: Absolutely. That's where the action is, where you meet a lot of people. You're constantly moving around, not just stuck in one area of the pub. You're out front meeting people, you're in the back of the house working, constantly learning about the business, asking a lot of questions.
FM: So, working as a bar back really prepared you for your future as an entrepreneur.
Mark: Yes, absolutely. Bar back is a great job to get your feet wet in the business. If you are a hard worker and pay attention and ask the right questions, it's the perfect position to help prepare you for moving ahead in the restaurant business. This is where you really learn about the ins and outs of a restaurant.
FM: What’s your educational background? Did you go to college to study business administration or restaurant management?
Mark: No, I studied marketing for a bit but really learned on the job working in pubs in Australia and Ireland.
FM: That's often the best way to learn a profession or trade, by jumping in head first.
Mark: It really is. If you work for someone who can communicate well and has a lot of patience, there's really no better way to learn. I always made sure to ask the right questions.
FM: If you want to see some tried and true soccer fans, come out to Mickey Byrnes. Mickey Byrnes is such a great local pub, known as the "Soccer and Rugby Pub" in Downtown Hollywood. Mark, Did you play any sports growing up?
Mark: Oh, most definitely. Soccer and rugby. But, I'm a fan of all sports.
FM: So are the patrons of Mickey Byrnes. I've been there watching a big soccer match on television and the place is insane, so much fun.
Mark: (laughing) We definitely have our loyalists!
FM: Change of subject. The food. Mickey Byrnes has some awesome food. Do you have input when creating the menu?
Mark: (laughing) I leave that up to my business partner. She's a trained chef so I know that our menu is in very competent hands. I don't go near the kitchen unless I'm summoned.
FM: I can relate to that. Many years ago, I was a partner in a sport's bar. My partner rarely let me do a thing there unless it involved the dishes or mopping the floors. I was the world's worst bar tender. I'd walk in and the locals would actually boo me!
Mark: (laughing) Showing you the love! That's a funny story.
FM: It made me a better man!
Mark: I'm sure it did.
FM: Does Mickey Byrnes sponsor any community events?
Mark: Yes, we do. We sponsor the St. Patrick's Day Parades, some cancer fundraisers and other non-profits. We'll always continue to do that and give back to the community that's welcomed us for all these years.
FM: Do you find yourself being very involved in the day to day operation of Mickey Byrnes or do you trust your staff to take charge?
Mark: I'm fortunate to have a great staff and business partner so most of the day to day is shared responsibilities.
FM: Everytime I’ve been to Mickey Byrnes, it’s pretty busy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. What's your secret to keeping customers coming in?
Mark: It's a local establishment that has great loyal patrons, many who have been coming in since day one. We try to really take care of our customers, treat them well. I've got a very friendly, great staff. That's key to success. It starts there.
FM: The live music. Are you the one who has the final say so as to who comes in to perform?
Mark: Yes, I'm the one who makes those decisions. I'm hands on in that aspect.
FM: What type of music are you looking for? Alt rock, classic rock, top 40?
Mark: Not so much classic rock. I like the bands to keep things current. Not to say that I don't enjoy classic rock, because I do. But for the pub, alternative rock and some top 40 is what I want here.
FM: The stage area here isn’t that big but it works well. Any plans to expand or change the design of the stage area?
Mark: Originally the stage was on the right side of the restaurant, when you walked in. We moved it to the left side a while back. I think it works better there. It's not a huge area, but yes, it works well where it is. So, I have no plans to make any changes.
FM: What have been some of your most successful promotions, and where did they originate?
Mark: We do theme nights which are always fun. I think one of our most popular promotions is our 100 pint club. There's over 100 names on the board now. Some are up there more than once!
FM: The ones on there more than once, I hope it took them a while to do that!
Mark: (laughing) I don't think they did that over night!
FM: What do you find to be the most challenging part of owning a restaurant?
Mark: The most challenging part, in my opinion, is maintaining a good, strong, dependable staff.
FM: What are your future plans for Mickey Byrnes? Maybe add a second location, say, in Weston? Weston needs a great place like this.
Mark: Right now, I don't have any plans to expand but in the future, you never know. I know of a place that tried to open in Weston some years back and it didn't work out. I don't know why. You would think that in Weston, with such a big, diverse community, it would succeed.
FM: The food at Mickey Byrnes is great. Let's pretend I'm a first time visitor. Give me the top 3 menu items, starting with the food.
Mark: Shepherds pie, Fish and Chips or the Mickey B's Burger.
FM: Now, the top 3 beers you sel the most.
Mark: Guinness, Smithwicks, and Stella. We've also been the biggest seller of Jemeson Irish Whiskey in the area for many years.
FM: Mark, if you didn't own Mickey Byrnes, what would you be doing today?
Mark: Traveling the earth and looking for adventure!
FM: Perfect! It's been great speaking with you and I wish you continued success with Mickey Byrnes.
Mark: Thank you Fretboard Magazine!
Craig Marks, Editor
For further information about Mickey Byrnes, including events, please visit www.mickeybyrnes.com