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Jo McGarry
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Friday - October 26, 2011 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Jo McGarry photo

Title: Owner, Cha Cha Cha Salsaria, Hawaii Kai

Where were you born and raised? Cedar Falls, Iowa

Was your family in the business? My mother is Greek and a lot of relatives had restaurants. I started working in restaurants when I was 16, and I ended up running a lot of restaurants. We started one that’s still there the Brown Bottle. They were all just great little family-owned restaurants.

How did Cha Cha Cha start? My business partner asked me if I wanted to come to Hawaii and open a Mexican restaurant. I was actually thinking of going to Jamaica for a while, and because my dad lived here, I said yes.

Your location is just fabulous. It’s one of the few waterfront restaurants in Hawaii! We like to think it’s a place where you can sit by the water, relax, eat well, and we have live music here five nights a week.

You’ve created such a happy, welcoming atmosphere here. That’s us: We’re not a bar or a fine dining place, we’re a friendly local restaurant for local families with good food, live music and a great view.

I don’t think people know that you grow a lot of your food. We have an acre in Waimanalo where we grow papaya, lilikoi, mango, avocado, lemons, limes and lettuce. We supply the restaurant with as much as we can grow. Oh, and we have chickens, too all laying eggs.

Most popular dishes on the menu? Probably the jerk chicken, and our margaritas are still the best deal in town.

Do you cook at home? Yes, but not Mexican food. We eat a lot of Greek food at home. And when we cater, we do anything from Greek food like lemon marinated roasted chicken and Greek salad and potatoes, to a fajita bar, which people love for parties.

What’s always in your fridge? Yogurt. Greek? Of course.

With whom would you most like to have dinner? Our regular customers because they’re so much fun, and my dad. He passed away in 2000, but if we’re dreaming and wishing, it sure would be nice to have him show up for dinner.

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