WILMINGTON, MA — Joe Cerqueia, an owner and manager at Rocco’s Restaurant & Bar, recently sat down with host Lisa Kapala for an interview on the popular WCTV talk show — “Where’s Wilmington?”
Balancing Change vs. Tradition
“We want to thank Wilmington for embracing us,” says Cerqueia, who — along with Sal and Jose Cuoto — purchased Rocco’s in May 2015. “We really wanted to keep Rocco’s the same way. We want to keep the legacy alive. We want to be the third generation of the Rocco’s family.”
While Cerqueia subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy, he did note that, eventually, he anticipates adding a Portuguese and Spanish food section to the menu. Other recent successful changes he pointed to was the addition of brunch and live entertainment on Thursday evenings.
“We kept the name and the staff,” stresses Cerqueia. “There were wonderful people working here — an excellent team of people. Most [employees] decided to stay. All have embraced the changes, which have been mainly cosemtic.”
Cerqueia says he purchased the restaurant, in part, because his business partner — Sal Cuoto — was raised in Wilmington and frequented the restaurant.
“Sal grew up getting the fried clams at Rocco’s,” jokes Cerqueia. “When the opportunity came about to purchase a landmark, we jumped on it… Rocco’s is an institution.”
Competition In Wilmington Restaurant Scene
Cerqueia looks at the competitive restaurant scene in Wilmington as a positive.
“Competition can be healthy and good,” believes Cerqueia. “It forces you to be at the top of your game. Competition doesn’t bother me. I think it’s great!”
A Little Bit About Joe
Cerqueia has been in the restaurant industry since 1980. He was born and raised in Portugal, lived in France and South America, and has called America home for the past 36 years. He recently sold his Portuguese Cambridge restaurant — Atasca — to focus his efforts full-time on Rocco’s, where he works 7 days a week.
Watch the 12-minute interview, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below:
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