Business / Economy

A taste of the Caribbean comes to Hollister

For a difference in dining, try the Jamaica Jerk at Nano's

If you’re looking for different when it comes to going out to eat in Hollister, you won’t find anything much more so than Nano’s Caribbean Restaurant, located at 1709 Airline Highway, next to Kragen Auto Parts and in the same neighborhood as the newly-relocated Ace Hardware.

Jose Garcia, 25, and Julissa Menera, 23, may be young and newly minted restaurant entrepreneurs, but they come to Hollister with enthusiasm, sprinkled with an abundance of confidence, and a surprising amount of experience.

Garcia’s family owns seafood restaurants in Puerto Varallata, Mexico. “I started working as a dishwasher when I was 12,” Garcia said. “I began working in hotels when I was 18, and have experience in several different styles of cooking.”

The name of the restaurant has special meaning to them. “He was godfather to a boy who passed way,” Menera said of Garcia. “So, in memory of him we decided to use his nickname, Nano.”

Why Caribbean?

“We wanted to do something different,” Menera said. “We are from Mexico, but we didn’t want to do another Mexican restaurant. So we thought we could do a mixture, and since we have friends from the Caribbean, we decided to do a little Jamaican-Mexican mix.”

The typical dish, and most popular, according to Menera is the Jamaican Jerk. “You can choose between chick, pork or prawns,” she said. “It’s served with rice, black beans, vegetables and plantains. That’s the dish people really like.”

A family of four might expect to pay $40 to $45 to dine at Nano’s. “The jerk would be the most expensive at $16, and we have a kid’s choices for $6,” Menera said. “We offer to-go at no extra charge. They should allow 10-15 minutes.”

Business consultants often advise people thinking of opening a business that they should do some sort of market research. The young couple’s research was primarily to check out Jamaican restaurants’ menus and decor.

“We decorated it ourselves,” Menera said. “Family and friends helped.”

And rather than go looking for business loans, they, with the help of family and friends, self-financed the restaurant. Advertising and marketing, so far, consists of having a Facebook page and handing out flyers.

“We are working on a website, too,” Merena said. She added that after they’ve been open for a while they will consider special promotions, taking part in street fairs, the Farmer’s Market, and perhaps the Olive Festival.

“We’re just starting, but later on we would like to be able to participate in those event,” said Merena.

They presently commute from Castroville, but hope to relocate to Hollister soon.

We’re family-friendly, relaxed (the Jamaican way). To add to the laidback atmosphere, they’ve added a touch of reggae. “Eventually, we want to add something more Columbian and Puerto Rican,” Garcia said.

They’ve been in business for about four weeks and, so far, it’s been smooth sailing.

 “It’s hard work and we try to do our best to make our customers happy,” Garcia said.

Even though Nano's has been opening for just four weeks, positive reviews are the order of the day on, the place where today's diners go to check out restaurants. Four and five stars were the norm from those who had already discovered the restaurant. 

"The hubster and I dropped in for an early dinner and were excited to see (and taste) that our dreams of eating something other than SAMEOLDSAMEOLD have come true," wrote Poetita E, from Hollister, who gave four stars. "The menu is large enough to offer plenty of options, but small enough to be able to make a choice on the fly. I ordered THE JERK because this is a Caribbean place, that's what you're supposed to do! The hubster ordered the Cuban. We both agreed that the flavors were nice and the portion size was perfect."

A five-star review from Jessica R, from Watsonville read: "I had the empanadas with the special sauce it was so good, my friend had the coconut prawns it was a very interesting flavor. Really cool how they have different plates ! The sparkling orangeade was so refreshing. I love that it's made with fresh squeezed orange juice , the wings were also delicious the sauce was sweet with a bot of spice, the environment is very relaxing, everything clean and good customer service."

The hours are: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.Sunday thru Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday thru Saturday. The restaurant's Facebook page can be found here.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]