Costa Mesa’s new Wild Goose Tavern has local roots

A bust of a fictional Jackalope adorns the wall of the new Wild Goose Tavern.
(Daily Pilot)

The Wild Goose Tavern’s look is as the name suggests, with an untamed jumble of wall decor including a mounted “jackalope,” vintage beer signs and lighting fixtures welded from reclaimed chicken coops.

But the Goose isn’t all wild. Owners say there won’t be any loud bands or a late-night dance floor here.

“We wanted to create a place that we wanted to hang out in,” co-owner and Newport Beach native Andrew Gabriel said. “Not a regular old bar or night club, but we kept family and friends in mind when thinking about our concept because we wanted that cozy atmosphere that brings people together.”

The Costa Mesa roost is set to open in early November on 17th Street where it took over the space formerly occupied by the Little Knight, which is rebranding itself as the Black Knight at The Triangle..

Gabriel and co-owner Mario Marovic, owner of Marlarky’s Irish Pub and former owner of the Landmark, not only remodeled the entire interior, now with deep diamond-tufted booths, rustic wood paneling and copper bar, but also upgraded the exterior patio with a wraparound banquette.

“The Little Knight was here for so many years. It’s been a great little neighborhood bar, and I wish them the best of luck,” said Sheryl Young, owner of The Classic Clipper next door. “With the new owners here, they have done a lot of upgrades, [which is] helping out the street visually. It’s going to be beautiful.”

She also said that the new menu, which features gourmet burgers and locally made sausages, will be another positive.

Gabriel and Marovic wanted a farm-to-table approach for their menu, so they utilized farmers markets and local vendors for their ingredients. The drink menu includes craft cocktails, seasonal beers, single-barrel whiskeys and small-batch spirits.

The Goose takes inspiration from intimate bars and restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the emphasis is on hand-crafted cocktails and elevated food, Gabriel said.

“We’re bringing in an ambience and a style that nobody here has,” Marovic said.

The watering hole’s 1930s and ‘40s rustic American vibe and educated bartending staff pay tribute to the history of the food and drink, Marovic said.

However, the name, the Wild Goose, pays tribute to Marovic’s history.

“My family’s first business was the Wild Goose back in the 1970s,” Marovic said. “It brings back a lot of memories of my childhood.”

Although that long-ago Anaheim bar bears little resemblance to the soon-to-open tavern, the new project was, in a way, like flying home for Marovic.

“I’ve always had an affinity for the name, ‘the Wild Goose,’” Marovic said. “Now, something like 37 years later, I’m paying tribute to my family.”

The Wild Goose, 436 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa, will be open for lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. daily with cocktails until 2 a.m. For more information, visit

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