A MAN ON A MISSION
BY SARAH MARTIN
Father, restaurateur and philanthropic hero-Rocco Mangel, of Rocco’s Tacos, is relentless in his passions….he is a man on a mission. While Rocco’s story begins with a chance road trip to Florida with only $200 in his pocket, his path has been anything but chance. Mangel’s determination and love of people has brought him to a place of freedom…a place where he can now focus on making an impact in the world.
Mangel started off as a bus boy at a local spot on Clematis and almost exactly 10 years later, he owned the establishment. He owned various establishments around Palm Beach County until he joined forces with the Big Time Restaurant Group. The idea to cement Rocco Mangel as a large scale restaurateur was born over a short conversation and a concept scribbled on a napkin. Mangel didn’t take this opportunity lightly. He wanted this new concept to last and knew the only way to do that was to gather as much information on what works and what doesn’t. A national tour of hundreds of taco and Mexican restaurants ensued. Soon thereafter, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar was born and, today, has over 7 locations from Brooklyn to Fort Lauderdale. When asked what was a pivotal moment in the success of Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, Mangel recalls when Kelly Ripa of Live! With Regis and Kelly dined not once but twice at his flagship restaurant and proceeded to rave about her experience (and Rocco, of course!) on national television. It was a definite boom for business. Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar just celebrated nine years of spectacular success. To date, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar has the largest selection of tequila on the eastern seaboard and is the biggest proprietor of tequila in the world for many of the top tequila brands.
“Being a Great father is like shaving. Not matter how good you shaved today, your have to do it again tomorrow.
Beautiful and Damned
Where the Sidewalk Ends
While Mangel has been a lot of things in life (restaurateur, stock broker, mover, mechanic, etc), his favorite all time job is being a waiter. If he had his druthers he would don an apron, introduce himself under a new name and wait tables in his own restaurants. His joy is in serving people, making them feel welcome and, ultimately, making a memorable impact on their day. Mangel has made a huge impact on many lives. When Mangel shares the stories of those he has been able to help over the years, his eyes light up. It is easy to see that he truly enjoys helping others. Recently, he helped a young 6 year old boy with a severe genetic disorder that impaired his speech and weakened his muscles. Mangel, through a series of serendipitous circumstances, provided service training for their two year old dog, Faith, so she could assist the young child.
You might think that Mangel’s ultimate goal was to create a taco and tequila empire. but you would be incredibly wrong. A beautiful little girl, Charley, has given him his new mission and has truly changed his life. Charley, Mangel’s daughter, has adorable curls and makes Mangel, who seems tough and intimidating, a huge teddy bear.
When Charley became a part of his life, Mangel found a new perspective…and he didn’t take it lightly. It became very clear that Mangel was making time for fun, drinking and, basically, everyone else. Charley changed all that. Now, Mangel’s mission is to be the best dad he can be. He never thought he would be the one to order barbies off the internet or schedule piano lessons…but it is pretty obvious that he would do anything for his little girl. He puts Charley first and the restaurants second, always keeping his priorities and responsibilities in line.
I asked Mangel, “Now that you have obtained a great level of success, how do you manage the expectations and growth?” Mangel replied, “It is exciting to grow. However, you can spiral out of control very quickly. Success destroys people, in general, but my measure of success is not monetary things…I don’t want. I have what I need. My goal is to maintain a level head and continue to be the best father I can for my Charley.”
Be on the lookout for the next Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar opening up on the southwest coast of Florida in Tampa!