Mike Doble is the owner of Explorium Brewpub located at the southwest entrance of Southridge Mall. Explorium is Greendale’s first and only brewery. They feature small batch, hand-crafted beer and delicious food. Visit exploriumbrew.com to learn more about this popular local hangout or just stop by!
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: My family started a brewpub about 20 some years ago in Tampa, Florida. I watched them develop that pub and my wife and I always got intrigued by the hospitality business. When I hit an impasse in my career – I was working for a company downtown and my company got bought out – I really, really wanted to get out. The natural thing for me to do was to follow that passion for hospitality and do what we’re doing now. Really, what inspired me was seeing what my parents built, and how they did it, and how much fun they have doing it. How little fun I was having in my current career caused me to make the jump and make the investment in creating this place. It’s not even work for me anymore, which is just what I was looking for.
My Mom and Dad have two restaurants in Tampa. One of them is a brewpub, and one of them is a restaurant attached to their production brewery. My brother Mark has a production brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina, called Aviator Brewing Company. Along with the brewery, he has a restaurant and a bottle shop and some other peripheral businesses. All of us, my two brothers and I, are all in the brewing business.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Greendale and what do you love there?
A: Of course, the Explorium has got to be my favorite restaurant in Greendale because I built it and I’m a perfectionist. What I love most about it, though, is the crowd that we bring in and the people that have gravitated towards our place. This is a shameless self-promotion, but the reality is I don’t love this restaurant because of the products. I love it because of the people; the people that come here and people that have become close friends, which is awesome. I just love it.
Q: How long have you worked in Greendale?
A: I started working here in the summer of 2016. It’s coming up on just about three years that I started working full time right here at the mall. We started remodeling this space and I worked full time starting about the first week of August 2016. We opened here in January 2017.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Greendale?
A: My standout person has to be Rich Busalacchi. I met Rich through an email. One day I get a random email from some guy that was looking to buy beer for an event in the Village. I honestly didn’t return his message, so he ended up tracking me down by phone. He said, “Hey, Mike, I’m trying to offer you an opportunity here. I got to talk to you.” And that’s how I met Rich. Turns out Rich was organizing the beer service for Village Days or one of the other Lions sponsored beer events in the village. It was a lot of fun and he was right. It was an awesome opportunity. Ever since then, we’ve been good friends. He’s a lot of fun and he’s universally nice and positive. I really appreciate that about him.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: My favorite place on the planet is Paris, France. I’m not sure I’d like to live there, but it’s my favorite place to visit. It’s just one of those cities. It’s one of those places where the whole city has the same vibe. There’s no downtown center of action. The whole city is cool cafes and nice local restaurants. There’s no chains. It doesn’t matter where you go in that city, you can find a great little local place to sit down and have a beer and have some food. That’s what I love about it. There’s so many places around the world you travel and you can go to the center of the restaurant district, but the whole city of Paris is the restaurant district. The whole city is built on hospitality and the tourism industry.
Q: What is your favorite movie or what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: Coincidentally my favorite movie and the first movie I ever saw in a theater was Star Wars. When the first edition of Star Wars came out, I think that was 1977, I was about seven years old. We stood in line to get in the theater and we were there, I think, on day three of when that opened. Incidentally, that was in Tampa, Florida, where we were visiting my grandparents when that movie was released. Ever since then, I was a huge fan. I’ve always been a big Star Wars fan. I’ve watched that movie dozens and dozens of times.
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: I’ve talked to a lot of people in groups. Whenever I talk to a crowd, especially younger people, I’m always encouraging them to follow their passion. I talk to a lot of college students because I get contacted to do marketing studies and whatnot. These college kids come in and they always asked me, “If I want to get into business, what’s your advice?” My advice is to always follow your passion and build a business that doesn’t require you to sell your own time. It’s important for me to be here every day and manage this business. But the reality is, when I walk away for two weeks, my business doesn’t come to a stop. I don’t sell my time. In my previous career, I spent 20 years selling my time. As a consultant, I charged by the hour, I performed services, I was very good at it, but when I went away for two weeks, my flow of money stopped as well. I always wanted to build a business like I have now where, when I leave, it still operates, and it still functions, and it still makes money. That’s important to me. The reality is that you have to be passionate about it or it’ll never work.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: Something that’s interesting that people may not know about me and on my bucket list is to finish a partially completed airplane that’s sitting in my barn at home. I am about 20% complete with an airplane that I want to finish building one day. My bucket list is to finish building and fly my own airplane. There’s a lot of people that don’t know that about me. I went to college to be an aerospace engineer, so I was deeply interested and engaged in aviation. I’m a pilot. My brothers are pilots. We all have this common passion for aviation. We all ended up in the brewing industry and I put my airplane project and actually my flying on hold while I’ve invested time, effort and resources into this place. I used to fly a lot for work when I used to manage a construction company in St. Louis. I’d fly from Milwaukee to St. Louis all the time, which was a lot of fun.
Q: What is your favorite music or three bands that you’d like to see?
A: For me it’s called rock music. To the people these days it’s called classic rock. I love Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and a band called Yes. I prefer the David Lee Roth version of Van Halen but the Sammy Hagar version did grow on me after a while. I actually got to see them down at Summerfest probably six, seven years ago. Van Halen was here with Sammy Hagar. They all got back together. It was Michael Anthony, Eddie Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, and then Eddie’s son was on drums, which was pretty cool.
I would always go see Van Halen again. I’d love to go see Yes again. That was one of my first concerts. They were really popular in Europe when I was growing up. And then U2. U2 was one of the best shows on the planet. I love U2 as well.
Q: What current or former local businesses make you the most nostalgic about Greendale?
A: There’s two businesses in Greendale that I really, really love and that I frequent the most: Gift of Wings and Ferch’s. Gift of Wings because I’m a huge kite guy and an aviation buff and I love everything they do there. If my kids and I are hanging out, and we were looking for something to do, I’ll get them ice cream at Ferch’s and then we’ll go to Gift of Wings and check out all their aviation related stuff. Gift of wings is a treasure because there’s no other shop like it. It’s a cool place.
Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why?
A: Jesus Christ, because I think it would be really cool to get some perspective on life.
Also, there’s a former Wisconsin Governor candidate by the name of Mark Green. He ran for governor years ago and I had lunch with him. He is a very passionate, Wisconsin loving guy. He works now for an organization called USAID. He does aid projects on behalf of the US government all over the world, but mostly in Africa. It’s been years and years since I sat down with him and I’d love to have lunch with Mark Green again because that’s got to be the most fulfilling thing you can do with your political career. I know Mark Green well enough to know that money going to USAID, it is not being wasted. I’d love to sit down with him one day and chat with him about that.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Greendale?
A: The biggest surprising thing and what I love about this community is how loyal people from Greendale are. They embrace my brewpub. They come here often. They’re so loyal to seeing me succeed in the Village. I love that about this place. People in Greendale have my back and I love that. It was very surprising to me to see a community of residents that is so loyal to people that invest in the community. It’s awesome.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: I’d love to see this business grow beyond our walls. Being a brewpub, we have several facets to our business. We’re a hospitality business primarily, whereas we run a restaurant and a bar but we have this whole production side of our business to make beer. A big part of our business is selling beer to other businesses so they can be successful and have great beer on their taps. I would love to see us find a way here in the Village to take our brand and grow beyond what is our walls right now. The Village has been so supportive with what we’re doing that I just can’t see us ever not being here in this spot. We’ve been so successful with the way people support us.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: My home is out in the country. I’m on a large lot out in the town of Vernon. I don’t see my neighbors so, for me, home is isolation and solitude and quiet.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: Sandra Bullock. She is one of my favorite movie people.
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that is fully paid for who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: I would have to go with the housekeeper. My wife and I are both busy. She’s an administrator at Brookfield Academy. She’s been a teacher for 20 some years and she was promoted to the principal of the middle school Brookfield Academy. She’s transitioning into that right now, so she’s staying really busy. I’m busy from here a lot. Getting the house clean is always the hard part!