Meet Your Neighbor: Danielle Rosse

7960650654?profile=originalDanielle Rosse at her Oceans 234 restaurant in Deerfield Beach.

Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

    One of the first things Danielle Rosse, then 19, did when she arrived in South Florida 16 years ago was to take a job as a waitress at the Ranch House, a mom-and-pop-style diner on State Road A1A in Deerfield Beach, a short hop from Boca Raton.
    Rosse is still there today, but the scene and circumstances are decidedly different. The Ranch House is gone, replaced by a new, luxurious seafood specialty dining spot called Oceans 234, so named for its address on A1A.
    Her former mother-in-law owned the building and property when Rosse arrived. She and her then-husband intended to operate the planned new restaurant together, but he died unexpectedly about a year after they began their effort.
    “We were devastated,” Rosse said. “My mother-in-law knew we were going to knock the building down to make way for the new restaurant. She said she would only keep the property if I stayed on. Otherwise, she said, ‘I’m out.’ ”
    Rosse did stay, becoming the manager and using her business acumen to standardize the enterprise and improve workflow. She saw the establishment through its initial rebirth, and last year supervised a top-to-bottom renovation for the 6,000-square-foot, 220-seat restaurant.
    Rosse, 35, has made some bold moves in just a few years. From 2007 to 2012, she continued to run Oceans 234 and also opened and operated The Whale Raw Bar in Parkland, turning that spot into a successful neighborhood watering hole.
    In late 2012, she sold The Whale and purchased Oceans 234 outright from her former mother-in-law. Soon after, she took $1.8 million of her own money — “everything I saved” — and invested it in a major upgrade that has given Oceans 234 a vibrant look of South Beach chic while placing al fresco diners within a whisper of the Atlantic.
    “It was a scary thing to do, especially in this business and in this economy,” she said. “I was going to do it two years ago, but the time wasn’t right. Last year was the right time — and it worked out.”  
    Her current husband’s company, A.W. Rosse & Associates, handled the construction.
    “He really knew how to build things. He told me, ‘You tell me what you need and I’ll tell you how to build it.’ He has an eye for design; he knows the ins and outs. We were fortunate to work together.”
    Becoming a restaurant owner probably wasn’t the first thing on her plate when she hit Florida. But once Rosse committed to running the oceanside business, she took a pass on a variety of modeling suggestions to stake her claim in the food-and-beverage trade.
    Danielle and Anthony Rosse have been married for two years and live nearby in a beachside neighborhood at A1A and Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton. Between them, they have four children ranging in age from 7 to early 20s.
    A secret of Danielle Rosse’s success may lie in her business mentality and disciplined daily schedule. A fitness devotee, she and her husband are up at 4:50 a.m. each day to begin their routine. Both concentrate on muscle tone and proper nutrition. But she takes it a step further, participating in the toned-muscle division of bikini competitions.
    “It’s fun, but sometimes it feels like a second job,” she said. “You have to be regimented.”
    Their awareness of various lifestyles has affected the restaurant menu to some degree.
“There are items for people with allergies, gluten-free foods and vegetarian selections,” she said. But patrons can also chow down on calamari, lobster mac ’n’ cheese or a thick, juicy burger with fries.
    Rosse believes that “as a business owner, you have to give back to the community.” She has raised money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County and the Broward Health Foundation’s KIDS Campaign. “I tend to lean toward causes that are kid-related.”
    She is also a member of the Chambers of Commerce in Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton.
    Rosse, who stands 5-feet-11, says her height is sometimes a cause for gentle humor. She said she recalls something her father said when she was younger. “He told me not to feel bad. Tall people always end up being leaders. I have tried to live up to that expectation.”
— Dale King

    Q:
Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
    A:
I was born in Philadelphia and went to school there through high school. People in the Northeast definitely have a different mentality. People are very driven there. It is a bit more morally sound. People in Florida tend to be more transient. I’m glad I grew up there.
    
    Q:
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
    A:
I’m proud of the transformations I have made through the years. Each year, I say, “Oh, my God, we made it that much better.” It’s amazing to see what my team has been able to do.
    
    Q:
What is your favorite part about living in Boca Raton?
    A:
The amenities. There is so much to do. There are great restaurants, great shopping, fabulous parks, great activities and great beaches.

    Q:
What book are you reading now?
    A:
The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success, by Jeff Olson. It is a book about business.
    
    Q:
What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
    A: 
If I am working, I put on electronic lounge music. For relaxation, nothing specific. I enjoy what I do, so I don’t really feel a need to relax.
    
    Q:
Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
    A:
My mother always told me to “say what you mean and mean what you say.” My parents instilled in me a very strong sense of responsibility. I have gone far with that advice.
    
    Q:
Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
    A:
My former mother-in-law. She really believed in me. Her trust allowed me to grow and ultimately be my own person. Also, my sister-in-law; she is brilliant. I learned so much from her about business and life and how to handle things.
    
    Q:
If a movie were made of your life, who should play you?
    A:
I don’t know, there’s nobody like me. I’d have to play it myself.
    
    Q:
Who/what makes you laugh?
    A:
Definitely my 7-year-old daughter, Kayden. She is hysterical. She looks like me; she’s like a miniature twin. I can look at her face and see my reflection.
    
    Q:
Is there one dish at your restaurant that a first time visitor should be sure to try? Why?
    A:
First-time customers should start with the lobster potato skins, then move to the lobster mac ’n’ cheese or the snapper. My favorite is the skirt steak.

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