These days, everyone knows Rocco Mangel -- owner of the eponymous Rocco's Tacos Tequila Bar chain -- for wearing his tequila-pouring shoes. If you catch him on the bar at any one of his restaurant locations, you know the shots will be flowing free that night.
But not many people know it's also how Mangel decided to start his now-annual "Tacos & Tatas," a fundraising campaign begun in 2011 to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
"When I first started pouring tequila shots, I was in my West Palm Beach restaurant, and people would always try to tip me while I was up there [on the bar]," said Mangel. "So it got me thinking: This would be a great way to raise money."
This year, the "Tacos & Tatas" campaign is hitting close to home for Mangel, whose mother-in-law is currently battling breast cancer for a second time. In response, he's expanded this year's fundraising efforts to include November and December, with a goal of raising $100,000.
Since launching the annual, monthlong fundraising campaign three years ago, Rocco's Tacos has raised more than $60,000, donating a percentage of every restaurant's Taco Tuesday sales from October to the nonprofit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Beginning Tuesday, September 30, all five South Florida Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar locations will begin raising money in the name of breast cancer research. Restaurants in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale will donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, while the Brooklyn and Orlando locations will be raising money for similar breast cancer foundations in their local areas.
To generate additional contributions and spread the word about breast cancer awareness, Mangel says he will continue to make the rounds to each of his restaurant locations, dressed in his custom-made breast cancer awareness pink patent-leather shoes, where he'll pour complimentary tequila as a "thank you" to those who donate to the cause. Any supporter who donates $25 or more will also receive a bottle of tequila to take home.
In addition, this year Mangel has been named an honorary chair of the South Florida Chapter of Susan G. Komen and will host a team at the West Palm Beach Race for the Cure on January 31. To show their support, members of the Rocco's Tacos staff have contributed to the team, giving 100 percent participation to the cause.
"It's my goal to present a big fat check to [the nonprofit] come race day," said Mangel. "I don't know if it's possible [to raise $100,000], but we're going to try. To this day, I'm blown away by how well we've been able to do with this fundraising event. People are always coming up to me and saying now touched they are by what we're trying to do, and it's morphed into this truly successful campaign."
On "Tacos & Tatas" Tuesdays, guests can enjoy all-you-can-eat tacos -- including Rocco's signature chicken, pork, steak, beef, mushroom, shrimp, or mahi tacos, each outfitted with all the fixings -- for $14.99 per person. The special is available every Tuesday from open to close, and drink specials start at 7 p.m., including $5 tequila drinks and shots, $15 margarita pitchers, $3 Mexican beers, and $6 Tito's vodka drinks.
To find when and where Mangel will be making an appearance, follow him on his Facebook fan page.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.
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