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April 18, 2024

S1E7 - D'un artiste en tournée à un nouveau propriétaire de bar avec Daniel Gonzalez, propriétaire de The Cleat.

Premier épisode de 2021, nous discutons avec Daniel Gonzalez, l'un des partenaires de Boater's Grill et The Cleat Miami. Non seulement ces lieux sont uniques...

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Logo blanc WISK-> All episodes <-

April 18, 2024

S1E7 - D'un artiste en tournée à un nouveau propriétaire de bar avec Daniel Gonzalez, propriétaire de The Cleat.

Premier épisode de 2021, nous discutons avec Daniel Gonzalez, l'un des partenaires de Boater's Grill et The Cleat Miami. Non seulement ces lieux sont uniques...

Lien vers le lecteur Podcast d'AppleLien vers le lecteur Podcast de SpotifyLien vers le lecteur Google Podcasts

Notes du spectacle

Episode Notes

In this episode of Wisking It All, host Angelo Esposito interviews Danny Gonzalez, co-owner of Cleet Miami, a bar and restaurant located in Cape Florida State Park. Danny shares the unique experience of being the first venue in the United States to have a liquor license in a state park. He discusses the different concessions in the park, including Lighthouse Cafe and Boaters Grill, and dives into the concept and inspiration behind Cleet Miami. Danny also talks about his background in the music industry and how he transitioned into the hospitality industry. He offers advice for new bar owners and emphasizes the importance of taking things one step at a time and being patient.


  • Cleet Miami is the first venue in the United States to have a liquor license in a state park.
  • The concessions in Cape Florida State Park include Lighthouse Cafe, Boaters Grill, and Cleet Miami.
  • Danny Gonzalez transitioned from the music industry to the hospitality industry.
  • One of the key pieces of advice for new bar owners is to take things one step at a time and be patient.
  • The success of a bar is not just about the drinks and food, but also about the overall experience, vibe, and customer service.


00:00 Introduction and Background

04:44 The Unique Location of Cleet Miami

08:56 Transitioning from the Music Industry to Hospitality

23:26 The Importance of the Overall Bar Experience

29:40 Last Day on Earth


Follow The Cleats on Instagram!


Angelo Esposito [00:00:06]:

Welcome to Wisking It All with your host, Angelo Esposito, co-founder of WISK.AI, a food and beverage intelligence platform. We're going to be interviewing hospitality professionals around the world to really understand how they do what they do, from chefs to owners, mixologists to bar managers, you name it. We want to provide you guys with a ton of value, anything hospitality related. Welcome to Wisking It All. We're here today with Danny Gonzalez from the cleats, Miami. Danny, thank you for being here.

Danny Gonzales [00:00:45]:

How's it going, man?

Angelo Esposito [00:00:46]:

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?

Danny Gonzales [00:01:01]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:01:05]:

No, it's amazing. Cause 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 Miami and Biscayne. Key Biscayne, I should say. So I guess maybe to just start off, tell us a bit about all the concessions. But then we could jump specifically into the cleat, which I know is more of your baby, so to speak.

Danny Gonzales [00:01:33]:

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, beachgoers. So, I mean, things have changed a little bit since COVID but traditionally, there was, like, more prepared foods, more like, focused on, like, sandwiches, and we had hot plates. There wasn't as much of, like, table service as you've seen at motor's grill. Little bit different approach, but very much the same vibe. It's like an outdoor wooden deck. It looks very similar vibe.

Danny Gonzales [00:01:58]:

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. You can see the lighthouse if you're dining in the deck area, and you're steps away from the beach. Then there's boaters, which is the one you went to, and it's at the harbor, and we're just kind of, like, opposite ends of the park.

Danny Gonzales [00:02:21]:

It's a lot closer to the entrance. And boaters, while obviously you can still drive up to it like you did, it obviously has the boater access, hence the name Boaters grill.

Angelo Esposito [00:02:30]:

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 stop by and park their boat there, and they'll, if I understand correctly, they can get the service to the boat, or do they come to Bordersville or. How does that work?

Danny Gonzales [00:02:46]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:02:58]:

Right. And then so now 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 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:03:16]:

Yeah. Once the state approved the liquor license, the park kind of just gave us permission to take over the structure that it's stationed in because that building was always there, and that was just called shelter 19. And 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 with the park exactly. I think you could reserve it if you wanted to and pay a fee. But for the most part, it was just, like, first come, first serve.

Danny Gonzales [00:03:41]:

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, yeah, it's a pretty impressive location.

Angelo Esposito [00:03:57]:

The view there. I don't think you can beat it. Just to paint the picture. You're literally on the water, the sunsets there. 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, in a sense.

Angelo Esposito [00:04:14]:

Cause you forget that you're still in Miami, which is kind of cool.

Danny Gonzales [00:04:18]:

Someone, a friend of mine, has 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 stuff we have. It, like, sits right outside the bar. And he built this table that 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 waterfront locations or the sunset.

Danny Gonzales [00:04:52]:

It's kind of harder to come across than you'd imagine. There are that stuff on the water. There's also on the river, which is really cool. But like, the way that we have it, it's a rare thing.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:00]:

Last time I was there, I had the chance to chitchat with your dad and hear his story. I'm always fascinated when people come from another country, immigrated to the states and build something from nothing. So I'd love to hear that. And then we'll get into your journey.

Danny Gonzales [00:05:12]:

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 somehow, kind of distant relatives. And the guy was running. He was older, and I think he was just looking to retire and sell the business, per se, but like a private business, but it's also through the state, so you have to have the contracts. Yeah, you own the name in the business, but it's not like you own the land or you don't own the building. But anyways, when he got here to Mammy, 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:05:40]:

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. He went in on that without any sort of restaurant experience. The closest thing was like working out of Bodega in New York behind the counter, like slicing deli meat and stuff.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:58]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:06:03]:

It was just like he had this job that he had worked at forever, and he just need to do something. I don't know if it was necessarily, like, this, like, passion for food. He went in with a partner, and we had that for a few years, and then that eventually just didn't work out. For whatever reason, they wanted to split ways. So then it was, okay, now what? You know, and then the concessions, we're gonna become available. And he was like, well, 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 kind of like, you go to that park to go to the beach.

Angelo Esposito [00:06:29]:

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.

Danny Gonzales [00:06:36]:

That entrepreneur, Costa Rica for a few years, like, fully moved into the states just because it was, like, I left Cuba and had settled there. But, yeah, it's basically Cuba, Costa Rica, New York, Miami, got you.

Angelo Esposito [00:06:46]:

And then. So Miami works his way up, sees this opportunity, which I love. It doesn't always have to start with bashing. It could just start with opportunity, which is amazing. Kind of jumps in headfirst. So the state park, if I'm not mistaken, this was at least 1520 years ago, if not more.

Danny Gonzales [00:07:00]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:07:04]:

Okay, so 25. Yeah, that makes sense. Wow. I think it's pretty amazing that he really saw that opportunity. And it's just interesting, right? Because, like, hindsight's 2020, right? People see it now. It's, oh, my God, this is amazing. 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.

Angelo Esposito [00:07:23]:

Like, that's.

Danny Gonzales [00:07:24]:

Yeah, that just happened right now. Yeah, 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 see, like, at a 711 that are just rotating krabby pizza, you know, just a general bar type food, but there's no 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, latin cuisine, people were like, oh, you're crazy. Who's gonna want to come to the beach to eat rice and beans or like a steak or whatever, but it's just what he knows.

Danny Gonzales [00:07:57]:

So he thought, like, if I go to the beach, I want to eat rice and beans. It worked out.

Angelo Esposito [00:07:59]:

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. We ate it together. Delicious. Delicious. I think it's really cool. And I think the lesson here, 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 now, like I was saying, but to see this opportunity of a 711 type place and imagining what it could be, and now with the expansion of the cleat, I think that's awesome.

Angelo Esposito [00:08:29]:

One of the things I want to get into is your background.

Danny Gonzales [00:08:31]:


Angelo Esposito [00:08:31]:

So what's interesting about you, and this is one of the reasons I want 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, sure, we hear the stories, and it's amazing where people knew. It's their blood, it's in their passion. They've been it for 20 years, but we've had some guests where they've just. They just started a business they've been in for two years.

Angelo Esposito [00:09:00]:

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, are 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? Because I always love to hear the.

Angelo Esposito [00:09:27]:

How people got to where they got to.

Danny Gonzales [00:09:29]:

My twenties. Yeah.

Angelo Esposito [00:09:31]:


Danny Gonzales [00:09:31]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:09:36]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:09:41]:

It was photography, but more like a history photography. So, yeah, just like art related. Yeah. With a focus on photography. Yeah, did that. And then my late twenties, which is 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:09:58]:

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 one time. So, yeah, it was pretty much just that. Just like, the band took up most of my time.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:15]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:10:19]:

I played bass guitar in the band.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:20]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:10:24]:

Jacuzzi boys.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:25]:

I love it. That's a good name. Jacuzzi boys. Okay, so for those who are listening, definitely check it out. I'm gonna check it out, too. Jacuzzi boys. That's awesome.

Danny Gonzales [00:10:31]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:10:39]:

Gotcha. That's super interesting, right? Cause so you graduate 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 not super international, but going to Australia, going to Europe, traveling through the States, it's still a pretty big deal.

Danny Gonzales [00:10:54]:

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 band's, like the Raconteurs. We opened up a bunch of dates for them. And, yeah, we've done some, like, 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 sort of felt like, all right, well, I guess we put in the.

Angelo Esposito [00:11:11]:

Work, and I think that, you know what? There's something we 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, it's theoretically, what, 2014? So six years coming up on seven years. And for me, it doesn't feel like seven years. Cause you just keep going and then.

Danny Gonzales [00:11:31]:

You look back, how old is WISK officially?

Angelo Esposito [00:11:33]:

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 1st system, but I couldn't understand why they weren't using these other systems. And the short answer was that these other systems were hard, 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, I'm going to build this big business. I was just like, I'm a very curious person. I love learning.

Angelo Esposito [00:12:09]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:12:32]:


Angelo Esposito [00:12:33]:

Going back to you, I think that's super awesome. So you're in the band, you're touring, right? The last ten plus years, which is super cool. How does that shift happen? Because 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:12:48]:

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, just, hey, can you do this or that or you need to go to pick something? Obviously, if I was able to, I've always helped. And when I was, like, younger, I worked at the restaurant, so I was like, behind the counter serving drinks or whatever, ringing people up or 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 like mid April to mid May. Roughly.

Angelo Esposito [00:13:20]:

Where was it? Out of curiosity?

Danny Gonzales [00:13:21]:

It was going to be in the States. Okay, very cool. 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 the coronavirus. Obviously, the bar was already set in motion, and I was helping out. Like, I brought these friends of mine, these guys, son and sons, which is like their agency, to do brand new stuff, because I wanted to just feel different than the restaurants. The vibe is very similar, and I wanted it to be while it's still ours.

Danny Gonzales [00:13:44]:

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 gonna be gone. And we didn't really have an exact date for when the bar was gonna open. We had some stuff to do and just waiting for the license to get approved. There's like, a lot of boring stuff. So, okay, I'm gonna 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 on the band, and if there's not, then I'll do whatever needs to be done. But it was straight up.

Danny Gonzales [00:14:12]:

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 wanted to. And then 3 hours later, the park manager came by and, you know, I think my parents with some friends, they might have been at the bar having a little celebration. The bar 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 gonna be open. And I think in the back of everyone's mind, they knew, like, coronavirus already happening, but it hadn't developed yet. And I guess maybe just thought things would be under control enough where we could open when we want. Like, it kind of moved quick as everyone is aware.

Angelo Esposito [00:14:44]:

Geez, talk about an emotional rollercoaster, right? I can't even imagine. Like, from celebration. And yes, we got approved to, hey.

Danny Gonzales [00:14:50]:

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 for like, I don't know, two months or two and a half months. And then we reopened. And when the numbers dipped for a bit, some places were allowed to reopen again. And the state approved us to reopen and reopened. And that kind of lasted about a month, and then the numbers spiked again. So it was like, oh, we closed and all this.

Danny Gonzales [00:15:13]:

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 longer. I don't even know until 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:15:46]:

I'm like, I think it's just best if we just cancel everything, because, I don't know, I just had a feeling, even at that time, it was everyone saying it was gonna be two months. And he's like, no, we should get dates on because the promoters, they want to keep the calendars, like, full and have holes and all this stuff. And I was like, all right, well, that's 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, because we would have 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, it was a good thing.

Angelo Esposito [00:16:30]:

Yeah, there you go. And it's interesting, right? Because 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 because the building was there, but there were 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.

Angelo Esposito [00:16:51]:

We want to open up another venue in that building down there closer to the water. Like, what is that step one look like?

Danny Gonzales [00:16:58]:

Oh, man. I guess step one is really what is 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 storage container, but up against that back wall.

Angelo Esposito [00:17:13]:

Got you.

Danny Gonzales [00:17:14]:

And they kind of fit. It was like the perfect measurement, like a storage can. I could fit in there, like, height wise and lengthwise. And it was, oh, this seems cool. You come into the back. So there was always 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.

Angelo Esposito [00:17:29]:

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?

Danny Gonzales [00:17:45]:

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 back, like, I think the sea wall was a strong contender for a while because if you're standing inside the bar and looking out to your left hand side, that is what's called the seawall. It, like, runs along that whole edge of the park, and it's like, what people fish off of and stuff.

Angelo Esposito [00:18:04]:

What was the worst name? Do you remember any bad contenders? Maybe not the worst because I don't want to call out a friend or something.

Danny Gonzales [00:18:09]:

It's funny because what might be considered one of the worst names? I thought it was, like, a great name, actually, someone else's idea. One of the guys from sun and sons that's handled branding, they're the same guys that did gramps, and they're old 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, that song by America. I've been through the desert on a horse with no name. The harbor is called the no name harbor. Not that we're, like, die hard fans of the song or anything.

Danny Gonzales [00:18:36]:

It was kind of, like, a funny joke. And my dad actually was, like, a big horse lover. He's, like, from the country in Cuba. He's rode horses all his life. But anyways. But my mom had put together a list of names. I don't know if she was looking at through some, like, sort of, like, nautical book or something or boat related stuff. And she might have sent a list, but she just wrote the word cleat, and cleat for those that don't know.

Danny Gonzales [00:18:56]:

It's like the little steel shape thing, what you use to tie your boat to when you pull up to the harbor. And she shared that. And so I looked at the list. Let's say there was, like, five things on the list. I was just like, nah, I don't like any of these names. So later on that day, and for some reason, I was like, wait. And even just as simple as, like, adding blood in front of it, it just seemed cool, and it just seemed, like, perfect. Like, come tie yourself up to the bar.

Danny Gonzales [00:19:14]:

Get cleat. And the votes are right there. And it felt very appropriate without being obvious, because 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.

Angelo Esposito [00:19:29]:

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.

Danny Gonzales [00:19:37]:

Yeah. When they see it, and they're like, oh, of course that shaped the thing. But. So, yeah, when that kind of clicked, I still kept playing with names in my mind. I was like, it's the clique. Like, it has to be.

Angelo Esposito [00:19:46]:

I love it. So your mom had in the list, then you took it around, and then did you. How do you guys go about agreeing? Right? Because obviously, your dad's involved, your mom's involved, you're involved. Is it? Julio's involved, let's say. But I guess that's more boaters. But in general, how do you go around, like, green lighting the name? Was it just, hey, we're all in kind of.

Danny Gonzales [00:20:00]:

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.

Angelo Esposito [00:20:07]:

Especially my dad's.

Danny Gonzales [00:20:07]:

Like, I would share with, like, I have an older brother and I would share with him, and he knows the Bernie and Mike and all those guys, I would definitely share with them. I wanted them to be excited because they came up with a bunch of names themselves and we would sit down and discuss why these are cool names or not. But I was like, I think we all decided on the name, but it's not one of your hits. Like, we haven't talked. But I wanted them to be excited because 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, it's pretty cool and nice.

Angelo Esposito [00:20:31]:

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 liquor licenses, all that kind of stuff. So all that paperwork and thinking that.

Danny Gonzales [00:20:44]:

The band was still going to be, like, function the way that it had been was. And when I 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 really expect to be hands on, like, talking to distributors, which I do now. You know what I'm saying? I'm going to try to make sure this thing looks cool.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:00]:

That's so interesting. So basically, all the permits finally come up with a name. So what's the next step? Right? Because, again, you were new to it, and that's a good thing because 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, construction shirt.

Danny Gonzales [00:21:19]:

Like, getting the bar built. And you've seen it's a pretty big bar and it's terrazzo, and it has all these sort of, like, angles. It's not just like a sort of 90 degree standard bar. And that was also. That was son and son's idea. And it's funny because a lot of people, when they come up, they're like, oh, my God, this bar, it's amazing. It's beautiful. Like this angle, it's not really traditional.

Danny Gonzales [00:21:37]:

So it looks like it's something we, like, sort of went crazy to get all these, like, angles and then 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 sun and son guys just, hey, what if we just, like, did this? That could be cool. And then we were building. They were like, yeah, no, we can handle that. So it wasn't this, like, crazy master plan. Like, we're gonna have this incredible looking bar that's gonna have all these funky angles. And to me, the best stuff is always like that.

Angelo Esposito [00:22:02]:

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 because 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:22:23]:

I don't know what comes to mind, really. But I guess one thing, for the amount of times that I've 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's been doing, like, restaurant stuff forever, and no one's, like, familiar with the bar world, just, like, these weird little things that you don't take into consideration.

Angelo Esposito [00:22:52]:

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 kind of, like, cool. That 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 the part I love.

Angelo Esposito [00:23:17]:

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.

Danny Gonzales [00:23:26]:

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, 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, Graham, Adam is an old friend of mine, and I've definitely relied on him a bunch. 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 ten. Maybe last week was, like, their ten year anniversary.

Angelo Esposito [00:23:56]:

Okay, I didn't know that. Well, Adam, if you're listening, congrats. Ten years in hospitality is not easy.

Danny Gonzales [00:24:00]:

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 would be cool if we had this thing. But I can remember when. When gramps opened, it was like, that patio. Like, their outdoor space was just a huge gravel pit. It was nothing but rocks. And I remember people would complain that their shoes would get ruined a few tables up there. There was one 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.

Danny Gonzales [00:24:29]:

It was just 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 these plants and things are painted nicely, you know, but, like, things can take a while. People love to show and be like, oh, man, you should do. You should got to have this music. And you thought about live bands, and I said, no, I know.

Angelo Esposito [00:24:48]:

Yeah, but one step at a time. And I think it's that idea of, like you said, like, sometimes you don't realize, right? 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, because that's where you're at right now. And you're climbing and you're learning, and you're just taking it as it goes.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:08]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:25:14]:

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

Angelo Esposito [00:25:24]:

Yeah, no, 100%. 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 Graham's, I think is super important in this world. If you can have a mentor, like, obviously you're going to make your own mistakes no matter what, but if you can also learn from other people's mistakes, that helps. Any closing words from you in the sense of things you've learned or just advice?

Danny Gonzales [00:25:43]:

The best thing with 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. Things always develop.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:59]:

The learning there is just. It's okay to have a lot of ideas, but you got to get good at prioritizing, and you got to have certain level of focus, because 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 510, 15 years.

Danny Gonzales [00:26:21]:

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.

Angelo Esposito [00:26:27]:

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, and now it's different because of COVID Prior to that, I've always 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 because 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 disappear.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:07]:

But on the flip side, not waiting till things are not good and then being like, ah, I wish I could renovate, but I'm not busy enough.

Danny Gonzales [00:27:14]:

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.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:21]:

They don't.

Danny Gonzales [00:27:21]:

And it's like this for the next hundred years. I just know, don't update anything. Don't try to add some cool new whatever.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:30]:

Just know 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 to those old school places, if they're winning on charm and vibe and energy, then they may be reinventing how they do inventory. Honestly, it's like operational stuff. But I think as a business, you're always reinventing. Honestly. This is great.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:47]:

This is an awesome combo. And one of the ways we love 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 would be your go to meal?

Danny Gonzales [00:28:00]:

Am I having this drink at home?

Angelo Esposito [00:28:02]:

Whatever you want. You can add the little gate. It's more just imagining what your drink would be in your meal because I like to hear what hospitality professionals enjoy.

Danny Gonzales [00:28:09]:

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 can talk to easily, and I'm sitting at a bar and there's those kind of, like, music selections on a jukebox. And I have just a Jameson and a Budweiser. That's like my dream night. So happy with that.

Angelo Esposito [00:28:38]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:28:40]:

It'd probably be in Spanish. It's called, like. It's called bacafrita. Which is basically, the straight up translation, is fried cow. It's basically shredded beef. And then it's kind of fried, but not. Not breaded fried, just like pan fried with onions in it and garlic and stuff, but that with white rice and sort of plantains when that's like on point. It's.

Danny Gonzales [00:29:00]:

I love it. Yeah. 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 you half baked so you can bring it home and you finish it off in your oven at home.

Danny Gonzales [00:29:15]:

You can have it. You can. They can fully cook if you want, but, yeah, it would either be some sort of like, cuban thing like that, or some Frankie's pizza.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:21]:

That's amazing.

Danny Gonzales [00:29:22]:

Your own.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:23]:

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 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 amazing view.

Danny Gonzales [00:29:49]:

Cool. Well, thanks for having me, man. Hopefully I'll see you. I'll see you next month, maybe.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:53]:

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

Danny Gonzales [00:29:58]:

You'll be back. We'll have a whole. Have a whole list of questions regarding this.

Angelo Esposito [00:30:01]:

No problem, man. No problem. Danny, it was a pleasure. Have a good rest of the day.

Danny Gonzales [00:30:05]:

Thank you.

Meet Your Host & Guest

Daniel Gonzales, Owner of The Cleat and a partner at Boater's Grill

Daniel Gonzalez is a partner at Boater’s Grill and The Cleat Miami, where he brings innovation and creativity to the culinary scene. These venues stand out for their distinction as some of the first to secure a liquor license within a State park. Moreover, they boast stunning views of the Miami sunset, a rarity typically associated with Florida's west coast. Daniel's leadership and vision contribute to the unique dining experiences offered at these establishments, making them cherished destinations for locals and visitors alike.


Meet Angelo Esposito, the Co-Founder and CEO of WISK.ai, Angelo's vision is to revolutionize the hospitality industry by creating an inventory software that allows bar and restaurant owners to streamline their operations, improve their margins and sales, and minimize waste. With over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, Angelo deeply understands the challenges faced by bar and restaurant owners. From managing inventory to tracking sales to forecasting demand, Angelo has seen it all firsthand. This gave him the insight he needed to create WISK.ai.

Recent Episodes

S1E7 - D'un artiste en tournée à un nouveau propriétaire de bar avec Daniel Gonzalez, propriétaire de The Cleat.

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Notes du spectacle

Episode Notes

In this episode of Wisking It All, host Angelo Esposito interviews Danny Gonzalez, co-owner of Cleet Miami, a bar and restaurant located in Cape Florida State Park. Danny shares the unique experience of being the first venue in the United States to have a liquor license in a state park. He discusses the different concessions in the park, including Lighthouse Cafe and Boaters Grill, and dives into the concept and inspiration behind Cleet Miami. Danny also talks about his background in the music industry and how he transitioned into the hospitality industry. He offers advice for new bar owners and emphasizes the importance of taking things one step at a time and being patient.


  • Cleet Miami is the first venue in the United States to have a liquor license in a state park.
  • The concessions in Cape Florida State Park include Lighthouse Cafe, Boaters Grill, and Cleet Miami.
  • Danny Gonzalez transitioned from the music industry to the hospitality industry.
  • One of the key pieces of advice for new bar owners is to take things one step at a time and be patient.
  • The success of a bar is not just about the drinks and food, but also about the overall experience, vibe, and customer service.


00:00 Introduction and Background

04:44 The Unique Location of Cleet Miami

08:56 Transitioning from the Music Industry to Hospitality

23:26 The Importance of the Overall Bar Experience

29:40 Last Day on Earth


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