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Food & Dining // Food & Beverage Focus
Jo McGarry

Jo McGarry photo

Occupation: Director of On Premise Sales,
Southern Wines and Spirits

Were you born and raised in Hawaii? Yes. I grew up in a few different areas of Hawaii and graduated from Aiea High School.

What was your first job in the industry? Out of high school I started working at Star Market in Aiea, and became the liquor manager as I continued working and going to college. I became very interested in the liquor industry and decided to pursue a career.

What was it that attracted you to the beverage industry? You know, it was really a fun business back then. Twenty years or so ago everybody had fun, and there didn’t seem to be as much pressure as there is today. When I started, we traveled a lot, I read a lot and learned so much. It seemed easier to experience the industry as a whole, and as a fun place to be.

And, of course, it’s a great business when you’re in your 20s! (Laughs) Yes, that could have been part of it. I was 22 years old when I started and it really was a time when everyone was having fun.

Nowadays, where do you like to eat and drink? Because of the business, I tend to go to sports bars and nightclubs more than anywhere. And I mostly enjoy the atmosphere at sports bars, where you can play pool, catch up on sports and with friends. So it helps that my job also requires me to be in these places (laughs).

Do you cook at home? No. Not at all. Never.

So there’s not much point in asking what’s in your fridge … There’s water, soda and maybe sometimes beer. That’s it.

What’s interesting to drink right now? We’re seeing a lot of different products coming into the Hawaii market. People are trying a lot of red blends of wine, for example. They’re fruitier and lighter than the bigger, bolder reds, and they suit Hawaii’s climate.

Anything about you that might surprise people? I like to sing. In-the-shower kind of singing? Actually, I like the idea of singing professionally. I’m not bad – people are usually a little shocked when they hear me sing – and I like being on stage in front of people. It’s kind of a rush that I enjoy.

What would you sing if a TV audition opportunity came along? Hmmm … Forevermore (I’ll be the One) – it’s a James Ingram song, or maybe Beautiful, by James Brickman.

Matt, you realize a lot more people are going to be asking to hear you sing now … (laughs) That’s OK. I really enjoy it.

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