Danielle Williams, DINING
The Whale Raw Bar & Fish House
7619 N. State Road 7, Parkland, 954/345-9190, www.thewhalerawbar.com
Director of Operations
234 N. Ocean Blvd., Deerfield Beach, 954/428-2539, www.oceans234.com
Danielle Williams was just 22 and recently widowed when she opened Oceans 234, a beachfront restaurant and bar owned by her husband’s family.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” she says. “That first year was really a challenge.”
Through persistence, determination and a lot of long hours, Danielle and the staff managed to transform Oceans 234 into a popular gathering spot that, eight years later, continues to offer great food and outstanding service – not to mention a dazzling view of the Atlantic.
Five years after opening Oceans 234, Danielle took on yet another challenge, this time opening The Whale Raw Bar & Fish House, a neighborhood family restaurant in Parkland.
“We call it the little restaurant that could,” she says, explaining that The Whale opened just before the recession hit. “We opened with everything going against us.”
Like Oceans 234, which she continues to operate, The Whale Raw Bar & Fish House has built a reputation as an outstanding restaurant for those looking for great seafood in a casual environment.
Danielle has been the driving force behind the success of both restaurants, displaying a keen business sense and a strong understanding of evolving market conditions.
“I run the restaurants like a business,” she says pointing out that frequently restaurateurs let their passions and emotions influence business decisions. “We put systems in place, and we manage those systems.”
For restaurants to succeed, Danielle says, they must adapt to economic changes, and they must offer an experience that prompts customers to return. It also helps, she says, to have a welcoming and professional staff. “I have a really phenomenal team,” she says.