BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Long before the success of Fleetwood Mac, when band founder Mick Fleetwood was a kid in the U.K. learning how to play the drums, he dreamed of having his own restaurant. His parents entrusted the then 9-year-old with the stable of the old farmhouse they lived in, and young Fleetwood turned it into something of a children's speakeasy that he called Club Keller. Instead of booze, he poured Coca-Cola.
"I used to serve up Smith's crisps and fish and chips and stuff for other children to come round," the bearded rocker recalled during a recent interview, his eyes twinkling at the memory. "I had my radiogram and my drums in there and it was my world."
Now, five and a half decades later, Fleetwood is creating a new world for himself and his music: He's opening a restaurant in his adopted hometown of Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Fleetwood's on Front St. is set to open early next year, and its namesake sees it as the next professional chapter in his life: A place where he can indulge his taste for fine food and drink (including his own Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar wines), perform with his friends and run the whole show. He plans to showcase local musicians and artists and invite the occasional famous rock star. The new establishment is essentially a large-scale, souped-up version of his old Club Keller.
"I've always wanted to do this," Fleetwood said on a visit to his manager's office in Beverly Hills. "I'm like one of those weird Chinese creatures where you see something 30 years ahead. It's petrifying and exciting and fulfilling, because... if you keep focused, and it's a corny thing, but if you visualize and visualize and visualize, a lot of stuff really does come to you."
Club Keller itself may actually be resurrected, said Fleetwood's business partner, Jonathan Todd. "We have an option on a smaller place downstairs and, if we get it, I swear we're going to call it Club Keller," Todd said.
Developing the restaurant is dominating Fleetwood's time. He helped choose the site (a historic building dating back to 1916 – the year his mother was born), select the décor and create the menu, but he insists "it's not a shrine to Mick Fleetwood."
"You'll know that it's my place but it will be very tastefully done," the 64-year-old said. "It's not a museum for Mick Fleetwood. This is a real working restaurant."
He says he'll draw on the "heritage of Fleetwood Mac" to inform its atmosphere.
"All of this is a responsibility to do it properly, and selfishly a responsibility to something that's very precious to me, which is everything I've done with Fleetwood Mac and my partners and the music," he said.
The restaurant has taken him away from music a bit, and he expects that to continue, but that's fine with him: "Now I will have a place to play when I want to or need to."
Besides Fleetwood Mac, the musician has two other bands, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band and Mick Fleetwood's Island Rumours Band. With or without his bandmates, Fleetwood plans to play at the restaurant often – and there's at least one more Fleetwood Mac tour planned.
"We're going out next year," he said. "We're all creatures of habit and we love what we do.... Whatever has happened, we are together.
"The whole thing is powerful, and all of that is somehow resonating into what I'm doing with the restaurant, Fleetwood's," he continued. "It can't help but have that filtering through it. It's my place."
But as his beloved band slows down ("Within the next five to seven years, I sort of doubt that Fleetwood Mac is going to be horribly active"), Fleetwood said he's excited to devote himself to his new endeavor.
"It's a sense of plugging who I am and what I am into something," he said, "and for me it's the perfect vehicle."