Who are we, and why are we called Michael’s?
What’s the story behind Little Mike’s, Big Mike’s, and what’s the difference between them you ask?
We’re called Michael’s because when we took over Michaels in Mount Merrion, we were so broke that we simply couldn’t afford to buy a new sign.
I mean, we were proper broke.
I only had my last week’s wages in my back pocket, and the banks wouldn’t come near us.
So, we just got on with it and used that week’s wages to buy the best seafood we could find and see if the locals of Mount Merrion would like it. And they did.
So, we very gradually redecorated the room as we went, often working through the night sanding walls and painting, hoping it would be dry for the next day. If you knew how bad my painting was, you’d know it probably looked even worse AFTER I’d painted. But anyway, we kept the name, and it’s now a part of us. I get called Michael ten times a day, and sometimes an arsehole customer will bark at me, “I know the owner, Michael, get me a free drink.”
Then along came Little Mike’s, three doors down from Michael’s. It was originally meant to act as a little overspill area for Michael’s. I promised my wife it would only take a lick of paint, and we’d be open in a week. Naturally, being me, we went all out and created a wonderful, cool little space with an open kitchen counter and a lovely snug with tables.
Then lockdowns came, and we pivoted every which way but loose, and sometimes loose too. It was trial and error, and we managed to keep all of our wonderful staff in jobs. We even created jobs and wrote a book with Rick Higgins, a master butcher. The book went on to win Cookbook of the Year worldwide in the prestigious IACPP awards. You can get signed copies in any of our restaurants.
In the middle of all of this, a unit in Blackrock shopping centre came onto my radar. I immediately turned it down. I mean, who would open a restaurant in a shopping centre? And I promised my wife I wouldn’t go near it. But I just knew if we did it right, it might just work. So, I bought her for a look. She started laughing and put me back in the car, and I forgot about it. We had already used our house deposit to fund Little Mike’s, then again to fund the book. There was no way we would risk it a third time. Then we went for a coffee, and she said, “F*** it, do it so I don’t have to listen to your whining anymore.” So, once again, I promised her it would only be a lick of paint, six weeks, and we’d be trading, in and out job, and it’d be easy. Well, fuuuuuuuuuck me, that was a lie.
We went all out on it again, took over and amalgamated three units, which was a huge space as it was. We put in planning for a huge beautiful terrace, a plush, swanky design, and went to battle to get a full publican’s license. We installed three bars, a restaurant, and a champagne and cocktail terrace, in a shopping centre. I’ll never forget the week the massive renovation started. I walked the streets, and there was not a sinner to be seen. We had no staff sorted, the builders were gutting the place, I had no money to see this through. I had a massive wobble and nearly cried. Then I copped on to myself, saw the building site, and said, “Sure, I’m too deep in to back out,” and we steamrolled in with a squad around me that I’m ever so thankful for. And Big Mike’s was born and grew. We found the money, there was lots of goodwill from our FWBs, and our landlord was very good to us. We found an incredible staff and opened the doors in September 2022.
So there you have it—three spaces, all uniquely different. Michael’s (the OG) is rock-solid, the food is better without me in the kitchen, and Clare runs it like it’s her own. It’s white linen, yet it’s comfortable, buzzy, and the food is just on point.
Little Mike’s is an energetic, really cool space with a wonderful loyal customer base. Locals walk to it, mill into plates of seafood, and horse wine into them. It has the most open kitchen you can dream of; you see everything, and the chef’s counters are something special.
Big Mike’s is in Blackrock. It’s sexy, it’s cool, it has a New York vibe to it. We specialize in the very, very best beef, the freshest seafood, and incredible cocktails and wines. You can just go and park yourself on the terrace and day drink and eat a few nibbles, or you can dine with us.
Anyway, if you’re still reading, that’s why I’m called Michael ten times a day.