By Dale Madison
One of the things to know about John Zieba and Cliff Mulcahy, the owners of Wilton Manors’ popular Rosie’s Bar and Grill, is that success did not come for them overnight. When Zieba and Mulcahy first met, they were students at the University of Miami. At the time, they were working for the same software company, but each possessed that entrepreneurial drive.
“We initially looked at Subway,” recalls Zieba, “because they have a very strong franchise system. We really wanted something more than just subs and chips, and then we heard about Hamburger Mary’s.” The themed gay eatery was worth a look for the professional pair.
“We did our due diligence, and decided we liked the look of the menu, and we moved forward,” adds Mulcahy with a smile. After an extensive search, they found an abandoned Burger King location [at 2249 Wilton Drive] in the little community of Wilton Manors, and in December 2002 they opened their Hamburger Mary’s franchise on Wilton Drive.
“At the time it was the right way to go,” Zieba remembers. “It has what we call an ‘instant market,’ something built-in to drive customers in.”
But, adds Mulcahy, “We just didn’t see that much support from the franchisor, so we chose to temporarily close and to shuffle the menu, remodel, and rename and rebrand as Rosie’s Bar and Grill. It’s been a great decision.” Beginning with their time as a Hamburger Mary’s franchisee, the two understood the importance of giving back to the community.
“If you want to really make a statement of your commitment, you have to lead,” Zieba explains. “We got involved with many organizations. [For instance], we have been major donors for the Smart Ride, which raises money for several Florida HIV/AIDS service organizations, with 100 percent of the funds raised going right back into the community.
“We provide breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as supporting the Smart Ride with staffing for the 176-mile ride from Miami to Key West,” Zieba notes. “We make a stop at Hawks Cay, and then up the next morning and on to Key West. I have to say it is amazing to see the amount of love and support once arrive in Key West,” he adds.
Mulcahy notes that, “In addition, we also provide support for the Poverello Center and their annual Bowl-A-Thon, and many other community groups.”
The pair says they welcome the addition of new eateries and watering holes in the Gayborhood. “The more businesses that open, the more likely people will come and spend an afternoon or evening on the Drive,” says Mulcahy, as he jumps up to bus a table in the soon-to-be-packed dining room.
Mark your calendar now for Rosie’s 10-Year Anniversary weekend, December 7, 8, and 9, and help these great guys celebrate an amazing decade of making a difference in our community. Tell them Florida Agenda sent you.