Welcome to The Dean’s List! The Dean’s List will profile up-and-comers in Memphis who are certain to be the next group of leaders in the nonprofit, corporate, government, and faith communities. The Dean’s List is curated by Kevin Dean.
Daniel Masters describes his childhood as “the quintessential feral childhood of the 80’s.” Growing up in the Whitehaven neighborhood followed by Horn Lake, MS, Masters recalls being a wild child, and by his teenage years, he was skipping school and having frequent run-ins with the law. Fortunately, he credits the tough love from his mother and the hard work and mentorship of his grandfather for making him the man he is today.
Daniel spent summers with his grandfather, who he referred to affectionately as Poppie. Daniel’s grandfather owned and serviced carwashes all over the Mid-South, and he would let his grandchild work alongside him, cleaning out vacuum tanks and sweeping asphalt for pocket change.
Daniel, now 35, took lessons from his grandfather’s hard work and began a career in the restaurant industry, working his way up from a waiter to a business owner. Daniel is now the owner of The Silly Goose Lounge, known for its elegant, urban decor and its tasty drink menu. Located at the prime corner of Main Street and Peabody Place, the Silly Goose Lounge is the perfect downtown hotspot. Though he is now a father of three and a “responsible adult,” Daniel hasn’t lost his sense of adventure. You may even see Daniel skateboarding through the bar or wearing a ridiculous outfit.
The secret fact about the Silly Goose is that its name is in honor of Daniel’s grandfather, who has been his hero and role model throughout his life. Poppie was known for creating bedtime stories for Daniel and his brother, and Daniel’s favorite involved a “silly goose.” His grandfather’s memory lives on at the corner bar in downtown Memphis.
We chose Daniel for his energy, spirit, and his commitment to Downtown Memphis, where the Silly Goose serves as a focal point for tourists and downtowners looking to lounge, drink, and enjoy the city.
Tell me about how Silly Goose came to be.
It came to be from a trip that I took to New York for the first time. A friend knew that I wanted to open a bar, and he told me that if I wanted to explore concepts and ideas, then New York was the place. At that point I was a broke dad/bar manager, so he bought me a ticket and showed me around. I was in instant awe of the energy and ideas that flowed through the nightlife. At least that’s where the ideas came from, the rest is boring.
Tell me three things about yourself that would be interesting for the readers.
- I am ranked 320 in the world in Call of Duty Ghost
- If you order a vodka and soda, I am secretly judging you
- I have never been to Graceland
If you could describe your feelings about Memphis in three words, what would they be?
Genuine, Persistent, Welcoming
If you could only have one cocktail from Silly Goose for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Easy! The Old-fashioned…the way our great great great granddads drank ’em!
Who is the most famous person that has ever come into the bar, and what did they order?
Famous is relative to each person, but I would have to say Gary Clark Junior and Jameson Whiskey
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at Silly Goose?
Without incriminating anyone too much, I’ll have to choose the Sunday Funday in which three drunken blondes used a crown bar hammer and sledge hammer to take down the old library that used to stand in the middle of the bar.
Why did you choose downtown over Midtown or East Memphis when you were looking to open the bar?
When I bartended downtown in my early 20s, I felt at home with the regulars and the new faces of visitors. I love meeting tourists and selling the Memphis brand.
What’s the best part of being a Memphian?
Of the many qualities that a Memphian has above other cities, I guess you can say we don’t scare so easily.
Other than Silly Goose, are there other bars you frequent downtown?
I’m a cocktail snob. If I’m not getting one at Goose, I will see Cady over at Café Pontotoc. She has a great program going, and I love the care she takes in her craft. In midtown, the best is Vincent at Bari. East Memphis, Aaron at Hog & Hominy.
If I wanted to take a friend downtown to get dessert, where should I take them (after we have cocktails at Silly Goose, of course!)?
I’m the worst person to ask, as I hate sweets. My version of dessert is a shot of Fernet Branca.
What’s the biggest issue facing Memphis, and how do we solve it?
Definitely education. The only way this city is going to improve is if we educate our youth in order to help them develop options for their own future.
What is one thing you’re most excited about for Memphis?
It’s learning its identity