Jan. 26, 2018

Eddie Chacon

Finally! It’s been over a year since I first approached Eddie Chacon and asked him to let me include him on my Meet Georgetown blog. He’s always so busy working and running Alfresco’s Bistro on Front Street that he never had the chance to sit down and talk to me.

We sat down in the dining room for about 30-45 minutes and just talked. We talked mostly about cooking and different dishes. With my father being a chef and having worked in some of the finest restaurants in Toledo, we had something common.

“I have been cooking since I was a kid,” Eddie said of his love for the kitchen,” And I have been working since I was 14.”

“In kitchens?” I asked.

“Yes, yes in restaurants and kitchens in New Jersey,” he answered. “I did a lot of different things like washed dishes, bus boy, prep work, and things like that.”

Some of Eddie’s wait staff came in to pick up their checks. I noticed they not only respected him, but they also had a fondness for him and he with them. I noted some of their exchanges and then went on. “So how did you make your way down here to South Carolina?”

“My last job in New Jersey was in a country club and one of the members brought me down here to work. He opened a restaurant in Garden City, From there, I went to a restaurant in the Hammock Shops. After I left the Hammock Shops, I went to a place called Rocco’s. Do you remember that place? They were very expensive, but had good food. I worked there until they closed,” Eddie Explained.

“Yes, I do remember it. I never ate there, but I do remember a place called Rocco’s up in Garden City-Surfside area.”

“When I worked in the restaurant at the Hammock Shops in Pawley’s Island, I worked with an award-winning chef.”

“What is his name?” I asked. I quickly scribbled down everything Eddie was telling me.

Smiling brightly with apparent fond memories, he answered, “His name is Louis Osteen. Although, I learned a lot about cooking from him, my training was really in New Jersey.

“I also went to work at Frank’s, in Pawley’s Island. You know that place, too?” I nodded as Eddie continued, “I left there because they did not want to pay me so much. I don’t blame them, but if you want good help, you have to pay for it.”

For the record, I have known a couple of the past servers. They’ve confided in me that Alfresco’s is one of the better places in town to work. They have said Eddie pays better than most and the tips are pretty good so not only is he saying you have to pay for good help, he’s setting the example.

“Okay, Eddie, but I found you at Portifino’s,” I stated. “I did not know it was you, Eddie Chacon, but I did, in fact, know when you left and was later informed that you had opened Alfresco’s Bistro across the street. How did you get from there to here?”

“Well, I almost went back to New Jersey after Frank’s,” he admitted, “but then I started working at Portifino’s. When John, you know the little short guy who worked there, when he found out how much I made, he did not like it. He said he could do it for less, so I left and came here and opened this place. I started with six little tables, too. That’s all I had in here.”

For those that don’t know or remember: Eddie started out with a little tiny restaurant that was like a closet with an alleyway between the structures of buildings. Slowly, he started using the alley for outside seating and then he put a plastic covering above so even if it rained, his diners would be dry outside, and finally, he enclosed the area and made it a part of the restaurant. He’s done amazing work.

Following the enclosure, Eddie also took over the old Lands’ End restaurant, renamed it Chacon’s, and ran that successfully, as well. While those two businesses thrived, he also co-operated a little burger place two doors down from Afresco’s. That was three successful restaurants in one small town.

“If you did well with Chacon’s and with the burger place, what happened to them?”

Eddie greeted another employee who came in before answering. “Well, with Chacon’s it was doing very well, but they raised the cost of the building and even though I was still making a small profit, it just wasn’t enough so I closed it. The burger place over here...well, it did well, too. Let’s just say it was poor business handling so I closed it down. I reopened it, though, as a taco and beer restaurant.”

“What’s the name of it?” I asked as I continued to write. He said something in another language and I looked up at him. “In English, Eddie, English.”

With a laugh he answered, “Tacos and Beer.”

“Alfreso’s is an Italian restaurant, however, the name Chacon is not Italian,” I pointed out.

“No, it’s Latino; from Costa Rica. I am half Italian and half Latino.”

We talked for a few more minutes. He’s 48 years old, owns his own business(es), and has four children, two of which are here in town with him. The other two reside in New Jersey. He’s also unmarried and wishes to stay that way (sorry ladies).

Of his four children, Eddie has shared with me that one of his sons is also a cook and does very well. He’s excited that he has someone going into the family business.

“I like to teach cooking,” he says. “I teach my son and he picks it up really fast. Right now, I have Brittany Sapp helping me in the kitchen here. She’s going to be a fantastic chef, very talented. You have people who cook and then you have people who want to learn to cook. I will teach anyone who wants to learn and right now, Brittany is one of them.”

I left feeling very good about the interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Eddie Chacon is an amazing man. I was so excited that it was all I could talk about for the rest of the day. By the time I sat down to right this, my husband, having been bombarded with facts from my interview with Eddie, already knew what I was going to write.

The next day, we visited Taco’s and Beer. Oh yeah, Eddie’s got it going on. Deliciously so!