Rosie’s Bar & Grill in Ft. Lauderdale: “Not just a restaurant … it's an experience.”
2449 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305, USA
Step one foot inside Rosie’s Bar & Grill in Wilton Manors, Florida – at any time of the day or night -- and you’re bound to notice the restaurant’s frenetic, kinetic energy. Sassy servers ping-ponging from table to table. Beefy bartenders flinging multi-colored adult libations. Patrons chattering over each other like inebriated magpies.
Add in some quirky, killer grub, hyper-remixed 80’s tunes and the best people watching in Florida – and you’ve got a sense of the zaniness Rosie’s embodies. “It’s not a restaurant … it’s an experience!” said Marcy, one of Rosie’s many festive servers. “Even locals come here to feel like they’re on vacation.”
No matter the weather, the restaurant gives al fresco dining all new meaning. Save for a small section of interior seating, the restaurant is like one big open-air patio. Even when you’re indoors – you’re outdoors. As if there wasn’t enough color splashed throughout the restaurant, a rainbow assortment of globe lamps hang from one end of the patio to the other. “If Willy Wonka had a sense of humor and owned a restaurant – I’m sure this is what it would look like,” said local regular Dave Coon. “They go whole hog – that’s for sure. Come to think of it, that might be a new menu option.”
Rosie’s has gone through several beef-centric revolutions over the years. “It was formerly a Burger King and then a Hamburger Mary’s,” said Paul Ditty, Director of Operations. “But we wanted to offer our guests a little bit more of what they were asking for … and then Rosie’s was born and that was nearly 10 years ago.”
You might be surprised – but the funny-punny menu has an extensive list of healthy options. “We all eat here too … sometimes 10 times a week,” said Ditty. “So we needed to take in to consideration some healthy options for our guests. We put calories counts on the healthy menu … where everything is around 500 calories.”
But if you could care less about stuffing in to that Speedo and you’re on the hunt for some well-deserved caloric intake – Rosie’s can’t be beat. At the top of the list of decadence? The Fat Elvis … a stuffed, deep fat fried Banana/Peanut Butter French Toast rolled in Cap’n Crunch. (Ask for syrup with this Sunday brunch offering -- if you dare.) The servers are trained to hype their well-known gourmet burgers (including their famous burger of the week), but the sandwiches and entrees easily hold their own. “Get the She-Bop with sweet potato fries,” said the light-hearted server, Marcy. “Or the fish tacos. Both are crazy-popular.” Over the last few years, Rosie’s has upped the ante on their ever-expanding menu. “80% of what we make here we make from scratch in the kitchen,” said Ditty.
At first glance – based on the (ever-present) toned, tank-topped and tattooed clientele – you’re likely to think you’ve stumbled in to a fun gay bar. Turns out the restaurant isn’t gay – but hyper gay-friendly. “For us, it’s a family restaurant,” adds patron Brett LaGrow with a wink. “But you’re bound to see mom-dad-kiddo-families too – and why not? It’s fun!”
“We are an all-inclusive restaurant,” said Ditty. “We have a very diverse guest base where people come for a good time. We pride ourselves on that. We’ve escaped the confines of being just one type of restaurant.”
There’s one extremely familiar face at Rosie’s. The caricature that adorns all of Rosie’s kitschy marketing material and menus is none other than one of the diner’s stalwart servers, Danielle. How did she end up being the restaurant’s maternal muse? “It was coincidence, really,” said Ditty. “People LOVE her. She comes and goes with so much fanfare. She milks the fun of this place more than anyone I know. At Easter, she dressed up like a Peep. After New Year’s Eve, she showed up for work dressed in her bathrobe.”
It’s easy to see why Rosie’s has quickly become an institution. Many of the servers have been there from the restaurant’s inaugural days. “The staff has fun -- so the customers have fun,” said Ditty. “People who work here love working here – and it’s contagious.”
Next time you’re in Ft. Lauderdale … grab your BFF, your GBF or your BF and make a pilgrimage to Rosie’s. “You’re bound to know someone here,” said LaGrow. “Or you’ll maybe meet somebody cool and get their digits. More importantly, you’ll leave with a full belly. Those are a given.”
Rosie's Bar & Grill: 2449 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305, USA