Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

MAY 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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26 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MAY 2017 a pro you should know Mexico, then we ship everything across the border rather than work with a fab- ricator here, so it's very authentic. We do work with a local dealer for our equip- ment. Every restaurant looks a little different. We have a signature orange star chandelier and use certain colors, but every restaurant has a unique look. Our newest Delray Beach location looks significantly different than our original restaurant in West Palm Beach but you still know you're in a Rocco's. FE&S: How did you develop the food menu? RM: We have a wonderful culinary partner, Lisabet Summa, who leads the development of the menu, though we are all part of that effort. Our fresh-to- order, tableside guacamole continues to be a big hit. We're obviously a taco restaurant so we focus on Mexican street-style tacos with all the proteins as well as a mercado taco with adobe- rubbed grilled chicken, avocado salsa, papalo and chile de arbol on corn torti- llas and a California fish taco with Mahi Mahi. I came up with the Rocco's Taco, which is seared tuna and fried wonton on three small proteins. We also have a more creative Korean taco with hoisin barbecue beef, kimchi, cilantro and smoky peanut salsa. One of our more popular, larger dishes is the molcajete, a Mexican lava rock bowl that comes to the table piping hot with a mixture of seafood, steak or chicken and vegetables with tortillas on the side. FE&S: What about the tequila side of the restaurant? RM: That's my area — I handle the drinks and the bar. I like to say I've tried to earn my masters in tequila. It's great to see so many more people interested in tequila. Maybe 20 years ago when people thought about tequila they thought about how it would make them sick. There are so many more craft and small batch types available now. We find people are a lot more educated about tequila, almost like a wine connoisseur. That's why we have no less than 184 — all the way to 400 — varieties and brands of tequila in our restaurants. Our bar managers are basically tequila sommeliers. FE&S: Bar design and business is so important to restaurants, even more these days. How do you design the tequila bar? RM: The bars are designed, built and fabricated in Mexico, which gives us a unique look. My mother used to collect elephants and she passed away five years ago so I have added these elephant heads carved out of wood in the middle of the bar as a reminder of her. We try to maximize the potential for speed in our design, so we think carefully where to put the wells, the ice, and even how the doors swing open — if they swing to the left or right. Our bars are set right in the middle of the dining room so we feel they create this energy and ambiance in the room. In Brooklyn, the bar is more than 100 feet long and stretches the entire length of the restaurant. FE&S: Mexican never gets old, and it can even be considered a crowded space. How do you stay ahead of the competition? RM: We've been open for 10 years and collectively we change our con- cept and menu regularly so it's always fresh. We're about to roll out a new menu design for our Tampa location. We're not re-concepting, but we have noticed a trend where everyone is a lot more health conscious right now so we're going to offer tacos on lettuce wraps and other gluten free alterna- tives. We're also going to offer crudités like sliced radishes, carrots and celery with our tableside guacamole instead of just chips. Most people might think of Mexican food as really heavy, with all the cheese and sour cream, but we're Rocco Mangel travels to Mexico for design and decor inspiration. The bars are even designed, built and fabricated there, which he feels contributes to the unique look.

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