Boca Raton Episode 99 – Danielle Rosse, Frank Mengert, Joe Cardenas, Vaughan Dugan – Fireside Chat 2
Boca Raton

00:00 / 01:08:22

This week in Boca Raton, we present to you the second episode of their Fireside Chat series! Joined by the owners of Oceans234, Kapow Noodle Bar, Dugan Holdings, Aquaco Farms, and emb, this is a series where business owners discuss strategies of how to survive and perhaps even thrive in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. No matter what kind of business you own, we have the tips and tricks you need to make it through this.



Danielle Rosse / Oceans234

This statuesque and charming entrepreneur, is a dedicated working mother and a fiercely keen leader focused in continually seeking to perfect the art of hospitality for her guests.

Rosse was just 22 and recently widowed when she first opened Oceans 234 in 2001. Starting as Director of operations she transformed what was once a sleepy oceanfront diner into the alluring waterfront dining escape that Oceans 234 is recognized as today. In 2013 She purchased the restaurant to become the sole owner of the establishment and in 2015 she under went a massive $1.8-million-dollar renovation on the property elevating the guest experience.

In addition to Oceans 234 in 2007, Rosse launch The Whale Raw Bar, A neighborhood New England Raw bar in Parkland.  After six years of successful business she sold in 2013.

Rosse has a passion for the multi-faceted nature of restaurant ownership, and she instills her core values of hospitality, quality and details into each of her 100 staff members. At Oceans 234, she runs a ‘tight ship’ to maintain her high standards across the brand. Rosse believes that Oceans 234 is the total restaurant package, offering a fun experience, fresh food and great service with unparalleled views, reviving the Florida tradition of breezy oceanfront living.

This respected restaurateur also ensures to give back to the industry that she loves so dearly.  Rosse is the Broward chapter President for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and also sits on the State board of directors for the FRLA as well as the board for the Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Deerfield beach Economic Development council.

She has been recognized in many organizations for her community work and has received the following recognitions; 2011 Coconut Creek Small Business Person of the Year, 2013 Soroptimist International Woman of Distinction, 2014 International Women’s Leadership honoree by SSL, 2014 was named by the South Florida Business Journal Influential Woman of the Year, 2017 Junior League of Palm beach county Women Volunteer of the year nominee.


Rosse Utilizes Her Professional Resources To Support As Many Nonprofit Organizations As She Is Able.


For the last five years Oceans has had much involvement with Surfers for Autism (SFA).  The Oceans team now hosts multiple fundraisers for SFA and have become a sponsor for the nonprofit’s annual festival on Deerfield Beach.  What began as a small clothing drive by Oceans 234 in 2010 is now one of Woman in Distress’s largest clothing drives and continues to grow each year. Oceans 234 also hosts an annual St. Baldricks shave-a-thon raising over $25,000 to date.  Last year alone, Rosse donated over $20,000 in auction items for various charities and nonprofit groups.  Danielle supports the Gwendolyn Clarke-Reed Neighborhood Initiative program that promotes the employment of at-risk youth during the summer months by having students intern at the restaurant.



Frank Mengert / emb

Frank B. Mengert is the founder of ebm, one of the largest providers of employee benefits technology solutions nationwide. He brings an energetic spirit and a unique, sought after level of expertise to the world of HR and benefits.

Frank is also a nationally recognized speaker on benefits technology and future-proofing your career through your personal brand, a podcast host, contributing writer for Inc and Forbes, a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), and a member of the board of directors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.







Joe Cardenas / Aquaco Farms

Cardenas is CEO of AQUACO, a privately funded startup that is currently building a commercial aquaculture facility to grow out Florida Pompano and bring land-based recirculating technology to the forefront of the industry. Based in Ft. Pierce, FL, Aquaco Farms will be one of the most efficient and sustainable seafood production sites in the US.

Joe is expanding the aquaculture industry in Florida and tapping into a high-demand business model that will produce hundreds of jobs and draw more agriculture and ag tech investment into the state.

In his prior life, Joe oversaw commercial, business banking and retail operations in southeast Florida with 3 banks spanning 17 years.

A committed leader with an interest in both business and education, Cardenas is a board member of several organizations including Discover The Palm Beaches (Past Chair), Autism Project of Palm Beach County, and is a graduate of Leadership Florida Class XXVI.

Cardenas is a graduate of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A native South Floridian, Joe intends to continue to row an Industry that is an ideal fit for the “Seafood” State




Vaughan Dugan / Kapow Noodle Bar & Dugan Holdings

Vaughan Dugan isn’t one to care about titles, but he’s held several—CEO, founder, restaurateur, serial entrepreneur, marketer, designer, and dishwasher, to name a few. Dugan’s storied past begins in Newport, Rhode Island where he launched his first business.

His mother received an unexpected knock at the door from a neighbor who wanted to know if it was her son who was mowing the lawn across the street. It was. “Ma’am. Your son is going places. He has his friends mowing lawns all across the neighborhood.” Naturally skilled in building teams, 10-year-old Dugan expanded his sole-proprietorship to employ four of his friends. And this was in elementary school. It’s no surprise then that Dugan went on to study business at Florida Atlantic University.

If you visited the Kinkos near FAU back in the ‘90s, and someone was hogging the only Apple computer there, it was probably Vaughan. He was busy designing and printing fliers for local music venues and tourist attractions. This operation would soon outgrow his two-bedroom apartment. Stellar Concepts & Design Inc., as the company went on to be called, was a five million dollar business just 18 months later. Vaughan’s addiction to building brands had begun.

In 2006, Dugan founded Pizza Fusion. Yes, that Pizza Fusion. The brand was a trailblazer in the food industry and set the standard for environmentally friendly restaurants. The pizzas were delivered in hybrid cars, the food containers were compostable, and the tables were made from reclaimed wood. These weren’t gimmicks intended to sell more pies. Pizza Fusion’s dedication to the planet was just a natural extension of Dugan’s own personal values.

Pizza Fusion’s unheard of sustainability initiatives brought the brand widespread media attention. Soon Dugan found himself alongside executives from national players such as Starbucks, Patagonia and Whole Foods. Eventually, he stepped away from Pizza Fusion to pursue other ventures. He would return a few years later to take the company public.

After leaving Pizza Fusion, he began working with Rodney Mayo and Scott Freilich, two of the most well-known names in the South Florida restaurant scene—and long-time friends from Dugan’s college years. Together they created Kapow Noodle Bar.

Dugan is quick to share the insights he’s learned over the years, and apply to them to his new businesses. “People don’t want to chew on a mission statement,” he says about his days at Pizza Fusion. “They want good food.”

That’s what Dugan’s team at Kapow provides. It’s working, too. The company does around four million dollars in sales and opened a second location. As for the eco-friendly practices, Dugan continues to implement them. Kapow uses recycled bags, recycled plastic silverware, and recycled aluminum containers.

So yes, Vaughan Dugan is a restaurateur—among other things. But his expertise extends far beyond the four walls of his restaurants. He recently raised $1.5 million dollars in funding for
Kula Crate, a crowdfunding platform that hopes to help teachers offset out-of-pocket costs. His e-commerce company Dugan & Dame sells organic olive oils, vinegars, hand-crafted spices, tonics, bitters, and teas.

After years of acquiring and growing businesses, meeting with investors, raising capital, running day-to-day operations, and building teams, Dugan has found his calling: building compelling brand stories, then turning those stories into reality.
As he puts it, “I don’t want to work in the business. I want to work ​on ​ the business.”
That’s exactly what he’s doing today. He regularly advises entrepreneurs on how to bootstrap their startups and is often approached by business leaders. He’s currently working on a book for aspiring brand-builders. Soon author will be added to his list of titles.

Of course, Dugan’s most important positions are father and husband. He and his wife Angela—who he met at Pizza Fusion—have a three-year-old son appropriately named Bassil.



Jason Hill / Client Focused Advisors

Roland Kidwell / Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at FAU

Danielle Rosse / Oceans234

Frank Mengert / emb

Joe Cardenas / Aquaco Farms

Vaughan Dugan / Kapow Noodle Bar & Dugan Holdings