After 52 years behind the sticks, Miljenko “Mike” “Dida” Gotovac’s legendary tenure at Dan Tana’s Restaurant in Hollywood is over. The iconic bartender died due to the COVID-19 virus on Thursday (5.14) according to a statement from his family.
Born in 1943 in the village of Lećevica, Croatia, Gotovac possessed great pride in his homeland until his death. However, due to the a stifling communist regime, Dida migrated to Los Angeles in 1967.
In LA, the ex-pat found a community of fellow Croatians, who eventually put him in contact with a Serb, Dan Tana, himself. In 1968, Gotovac began work as a waiter at Tana’s restaurant. One day, he filled in for a sick bartender and then never left the perch behind the bar.
During Dida’s half century behind the bar, he garnered fame for his curmudgeonly, but caring personality. He was quick with a story or listening ear for the LA eatery’s A-list guest and locals alike.
The motley crew of regulars forming Gotovac’s court inspired regular Harry Dean Stanton to nickname the spot, “the Star Wars.” Jack Nicholson was also a frequent guest as were the Eagles—Gotovac watched them write “Lyin’ Eyes.”
Despite his famous friends, Gotovac stayed true to his roots: work, family, Croatian freedom, and football (soccer to Yanks) were his priorities.
No words that we can write will equal the beautiful remembrance of a great man released by Dan Tana’s. We highly recommend giving it a read here.
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, as well as very large, extended Croatian family. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.