Photo by Stefan Radtke
Mike Dardano, 57, lives and breathes Westchester — as founder and owner of PR firm Buzz Potential, the Tuckahoe resident knows just about every small-business owner in the county. A natural-born night owl, Dardano walked us through his favorite local spots and how he juggles long work days and longer nights.
Where do you like to hang your hat at night?
A lot of businesses in the county aren’t nocturnal, but some business owners are, and Jam Bash Networking created a networking event called “Rock the Connection.” Basically, it’s a nighttime networking event with beer and live music instead of coffee and pastries. They recently held an event at Garcia’s in Port Chester. The business part goes by quickly, then people hang out as long as they want, and that’s when the real networking begins. Garcia’s was a logical choice because it’s hip and close to the train, so people could get there and go home easily.
Have you always been a night owl?
Yes, I’m a night owl by nature. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve preferred the night. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sun, but the night is more tranquil, even if you’re heading to a party. I live in Tuckahoe, and I can walk to bars and restaurants, and I love being able to do that. Even if I’m in White Plains, I can take the train home. I’m also in a band [Wireless Mike and the Analogs], so I get to a lot of bars around the county — Growler’s in Tuckahoe and JC Fogerty’s in Bronxville are a couple spots that host bands. Mickey Spillane’s in Eastchester and PJ’s Restaurant in Baldwin Place also have a great after-hours scene.
How do you reconcile being a night owl with a high-octane day job?
My wife isn’t always thrilled that I’m up until 4 a.m., and most clients do not do what I do; they’re early risers. I do my best work at night. The downside is that I don’t have set hours, so sometimes I’ll pull 12- or 16-hour days. In PR, there’s a crisis every second, and you have to focus. On the upside, my cat is always awake when I’m ready to turn in for the night. Rather than have the cat wake me up an hour after I go to bed, I feed it, and then it conks out.
What’s changed in Westchester nightlife over the past three decades?
The nightlife has evolved from existing in pockets throughout the county to blossoming everywhere. White Plains, for example, is booming. Personally, I think White Plains caters to the younger crowds, with DJs and rave music at all hours, and the old-time bars have been pushed out. After 10 p.m., I find the trance beat to be too much.
What is the biggest challenge to further growth in nocturnal activities?
Transportation. In Manhattan, it’s easy to get anywhere. Transportation is problematic here unless you’re right on a train line, or you’re the evening’s designated driver.
What makes a great nightspot?
I don’t drink, so I need great food. Mickey Spillane’s in Eastchester has a good menu, and so does its sister restaurant [Maggie Spillane’s] in Mount Vernon. Plus, they’re open late.