co-owners Alex Sadeghi and Mike Connell Reveal Their Tricks of the Trade
By Mike Jeknavorian
As one of the anchors of Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, The Pub, celebrates its third anniversary, co-owners Alex Sadeghi and Mike Connell discuss the inception of the popular venue, the meaning behind its name, and the trials and triumphs of owning a bar.
MIKE JEKNAVORIAN: Alex, when did you open The Pub?
ALEX SADEGHI: I originally opened the bar as Village Pub on October 9, 2012, and I reorganized it on September 1, 2017, as The Pub.
MJ: And when did you come in, Mike?
MIKE CONNELL: The Village Pub transfer of ownership, from Alex’s previous owners to me, occurred on August 31, 2017.
MJ: What careers were you in before you became involved with The Pub.
AS: I was employed at a bank in Sweden.
MC: And I was a Regional Operations Manager for Target, before I became the Assistant Vice-President of Operations for Marshall’s, which I did for over two decades.
MJ: What motivated each of you to buy a bar?
AS: In order to live here as a resident in the U.S., I had to open a business.
MC: My partner, Jim, loved the bar since its inception, and we were there regularly. I always had a secret dream to own a gay bar and make it a safe place where everyone felt welcomed. Hence, the definition of a “pub,” where friends gather to enjoy good times.
MJ: What has been some of the challenges?
AS: My main challenge was to find the best location to start the business.
MC: Well, a hurricane the first week (laughs). Getting permits from Wilton Manors. Truly, our challenges are only our opportunities. We remain positive and our vision has been focused on our family of associates and customers.
MJ: What’s been easier than you expected?
AS: Having competent people and friends assist me.
MC: For me, it’s having clientele who have returned to find that their experience is superior to what they’ve experienced in the past.
MJ: How many nights a week do each of you work?
AS: I’m in the bar seven-days-a-week.
MC: And I’m at The Pub daily as well. I do regular shifts.
MJ: What show or charity event has been special to you?
AS: We’re involved in many different charities, such as Smart Ride, Poverello, The Pet Project, and Kids In Distress, just to name a few. All of them are very important for us.
MC: And we also have the Imperial Charity Review by The Imperial Sun Empire monthly as well, which is great.
MJ: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened on stage at The Pub?
AS: Our anniversary turnabouts.
MC: Wow, I could name a lot (laughs). But I guess the strangest thing that’s going to happen on stage at The Pub is coming up. I’m going to do the turnabout for a charity event for the Smart Ride.
MJ: In your opinion, what’s unique about Wilton Manors?
AS: Wilton Manors is a destination for tourists and locals because of the many LGBTQ friendly restaurants, nightclubs and lounges. Also, it has different events, such as Stonewall, which attracts over 15,000 visitors, but without any discrimination.
MC: Yes, it really is a LGBTQ destination that’s unlike anywhere else in the U.S. Also, no other urban environment has drink prices such as these.
MJ: Who’s your dream performer for The Pub?
AS: Elton John or Cher.
MC: Bette Midler would be a great performer for The Drive.
MJ: What’s your personal favorite night at The Pub?
AS: Every night is unique and important for us.
MC: For me, the auction night for holiday wreaths for Kids In Distress. The majority of the bars and businesses in Wilton Manors donated elaborate wreaths for our charity auction.
MJ: And finally, would you ever open The Pub 2?
AS: Not at this time. And on a final note, I’d like to thank our outstanding and loyal staff. Their contribution is invaluable to our continued success.
MC: No. The Pub is dedicated to our customers and associates. On a daily basis, we’re striving to make our LGBTQ home better. Respect of our “pub” is earned, trust is then gained, and then customer loyalty is returned.