Lisa Lum

Jo McGarry
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Friday - November 02, 2011 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Jo McGarry photo

Title: Owner Happy Day Chinese Restaurant and Nice Day Chinese Restaurant.

Where were you born and raised? Canton, China.

Did you learn to cook from your parents? Yes, they had small farm and grew vegetables. They taught us how to cook.

Tell us about a dish that you remember from your childhood. I remember my father fishing for Chinese sea bass all night long and bringing just one fish home. He steamed it with ginger and onion and then took the stomach the intestines and cooked it with eggs. Oh, it was so good.

When did you come to Hawaii? I came in 1991 as a teacher, but I quickly noticed that people in Hawaii were very happy when they were eating, and I thought one day I would like to open my own restaurant so every day I could see them happy like that.

I think you are possibly the happiest person I have ever met. Yes, I am. I am really a very happy person.

Some people who work in restaurants are not so happy. (Laughs) It’s a hard job, you know! Customers can sometimes be quite bossy. And sometimes people are born not too happy, don’t you think?

Your cheerfulness permeates the restaurant. Do you think people come for that as much as the food? Yes. I think they come for the food first, but also because they always leave here feeling happy. If a customer isn’t happy, I always go talk with them, find out how they are and usually they end up smiling before they leave.

Do you cook at home? No. I am so tired. I go home only to sleep.

What’s always in your fridge? Milk -I drink it to try to help me sleep and fruit.

Where do you like to go for dinner? I like steak, so anywhere that has good steak, and I like Japanese food very much and anywhere that has prime rib.

With whom would you most like to have dinner at Happy Day? My staff. About once a month after the restaurant is closed we all sit down together at a big table and eat and talk for hours. It’s wonderful. We laugh, tell stories, eat good food.

You make running a restaurant look very easy, but it’s actually difficult. Any advice for someone thinking of opening a restaurant? You should know that fresh food is very important and getting along with people is equally important.

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