Miljenko “Mike” “Dida” Gotovac, a bartender who served many a martini at West Hollywood’s iconic Dan Tana’s restaurant, has died due to complications from COVID-19. On April 24, Dan Tanas’s page confirmed that Gotovac had been diagnosed with COVID-19 over a month prior but was on the “road to recovery.” The restaurant confirmed he passed away on the morning of May 14 with a long tribute to Gotovac on its Facebook page.
Gotovac had worked at Dan Tana’s since 1968, making him one of the oldest working bartenders in Los Angeles. In an Eater interview conducted in 2015, Gotovac shared some of the famous people he served over the decades, including Elton John, Johnny Carson, and Liz Taylor. Five years ago, Gotovac had reduced his working schedule to just two days a week, feeling strong physically but tired mentally, and choosing to spend more time with his family.
Born in Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia) in 1943 in a small town called Lećevica, Gotovac traveled to Germany for work in 1964 before landing in Los Angeles in 1967, where he was a part of the Croatian American community. His passions were Croatian freedom and soccer, working also for the Croatian Radio Program, published by the St. Anthony Croatian Catholic Church, where he was a parishioner. Over the years, though he was known as a committed barman at Dan Tana’s, he dedicated his time and effort to his family, especially his grandchildren. “His patience with them, and his joy in seeing them happy, well-fed, and entertained, were boundless,” according the the restaurant’s tribute.
One of the better stories from his 2015 interview was about John Travolta, wherein the famous actor had tried to skip the line to get into the star-studded restaurant. Gotovac said, “John Travolta walked in once, went to the maître d’ and asked for a table for two. He was told that there would be a two-hour wait, and so Travolta says, ‘You know, do you know who I am?’ And the maître d’ says: ‘I don’t need to know who you are, I need to know if my boss knows who you are.’ Well, Travolta ran out of the place! Then he comes back in, apologizes for saying those things, and sure enough he got a table right away.”
Gotovac 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. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.