MidWeek food-and-drink columnist Jo McGarry is juggling many a plate
CUISINE and lifestyle writer Jo McGarry, of MidWeek
and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, is marking 10 years on the radio with a raft of new stuff on her plate -- make that, platter.
"The radio show has probably been the longest-running thing," she said. "I started that with Gusto Magazine, and apart from a really short break ... it has just been continuous."
The break occurred when her show was canceled by sports radio station KKEA-AM 1420, where her husband, Bobby Curran, hosts the morning show. He also writes for MidWeek. The station, in a more recent realignment to refocus on sports programming, also canceled a food-related show hosted by Star-Bulletin columnist John Heckathorn.
McGarry found a new radio home for "Table Talk" on KHVH-AM 830, at 10 a.m. each Saturday morning, in January. It is a paid program for which McGarry has found partners and sponsors including the Sub-Zero/Wolf showroom, and it hosts live broadcasts, not each week, but when guest chefs do cooking demonstrations.
McGarry is a prolific writer, producing "Table Talk" for MidWeek and "Food Finds" for MidWeek the Weekend each week. She also writes "In Good Spirits," also for MidWeek the Weekend, once a month, alongside rotating columnists. In addition, she writes "Food for Thought" for the paid restaurant advertising supplement to the Star-Bulletin's Sunday editions.
Separate from both papers is McGarry's Web site, www.wineanddinehawaii.com
. Though its content is largely familiar to her regular readers, the site is her own business, established with Paula Kelly, as well as John Tang from PCF Virtual
, which created the site.
"We just started that because there was really a strong need (for such a site) in Hawaii, not just for tourists, but for local people to go to find a complete idea of what a restaurant is like."
The site is supported by American Express and Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors and it has some local competitors, with different business models, which have been written about previously in this space.
McGarry will begin filling up her site's new travel section this month, based on her recent travels home to Scotland as well as to the Big Island and an upcoming trip to Las Vegas. It turns out there is a place there called the California Hotel that tends to attract local folks.
Her soft brogue, recognizable to friends and listeners, will be soon be exposed to a broader audience. McGarry will do the voice-over on an upcoming series of restaurant video vignettes called "Wine and Dine on KITV4."
Another new venture will serve restaurateurs some relief -- from the never-ending stream of requests for donations from nonprofits and other organizations.
On any given day Roy's Restaurant can receive from one to 20 such requests, McGarry said. Another restaurateur told her that handling such requests costs $16,000 a year in personnel time.
Enter Taste Buds LLC. The business was established to relieve the restaurants' burden while still allowing them to help organizations in the community.
Taste Buds has signed up several restaurants as clients, for whom it will receive and process donation requests.
McGarry, Lisa A. Kim and Vicky Tanabe are the founders, "but I'm very much taking a back seat in this," and will serve as a silent partner, she said.
Because of McGarry's work, she sees more press materials from restaurants than most will ever see -- and some of them are not very good. She pitched an idea to the Hawaii Restaurant Association to host a marketing seminar at the upcoming Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality and Foodservice Expo.
She, as well as Dave Kennedy, vice president of marketing for the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek, will be participating, as will other media industry experts.
Plate lunch pride
Some of TheBuzz's usual suspects got some nice ink in the San Francisco Chronicle
yesterday in a story about the growth of Bay Area restaurants serving the classic Hawaiian plate lunch.
The story included comments from Eric Tao, president of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California and co-founder of Hukilau bar and restaurant, as well as Eddie Flores, co-founder of the now-ubiquitous L&L Drive-Inn chain, known on the mainland as L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.
Despite Flores' efforts to prevent copycats, several plate-luncheries now include the words Hawaiian and Barbecue in their names.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com