He escaped Cuba with his family in 1962, grew up in New Jersey, studied in Chicago and spent the last 30 years here in Dallas--hence Garcia's convoluted accent.
The owner of Hector's on Henderson wanted to be an actor. But a stint waiting tables turned his career in another direction. Eventually, he worked his way up to general manager of the celebrated Riviera. In 2004, he opened Hector's, which remains highly acclaimed.
Oh, he still acts, most recently killing Billy Bob Thornton (Davy Crockett) in Disney's The Alamo. And, he insists, the food service industry is all about show business...
1. Are you always so nice?
No, I'm not always nice. It's all an act for you.
2. OK, but are you naturally a nice guy?
That's part of the show business aspect of what we do. If I'm having a shitty day, I can't show that to customers or to the staff.
3. How important is acting in the restaurant industry?
The restaurant business is show business, so it's absolutely important. Diners expect a show and they have to get a show. Every day I end my staff meeting with "it's showtime"--and that's true. The curtain goes up and we have to be on.
4. But what about Gordon Ramsay?
He is what he is--and he's making a lot of money at it. I have a neighborhood restaurant. People don't want to see Gordon Ramsay in our dining room.
5. What's the most difficult part of running a restaurant?
The HR issues. I hate dealing with the employee issues, the stuff that invariably affects what goes on in the restaurant.
6. Do you cringe when a review comes out?
Yes. Sometimes bad news leads to firings. But I have to force myself to look at things in a positive light.
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7. How often to you get to eat out?
Oh, quite a bit. We're closed Sundays and I take one other night off during the week. I lean toward independent places like Salum--not chains. And I like exploring recently opened places.
8. Is it true that you should avoid restaurants on Sunday and Monday?
No, those are great nights to eat out. The way we do it is to make sure our chef is off on a different night each week. And I never want people saying 'I'm not going to Hector's on Monday because he's not there.' We avoid that by alternating nights off.
9. What's your favorite cooking show?
I don't watch cooking shows. I live that life. When I get home, all I want to do is watch Law & Order. I might start watching Mad Men this week. I just got it on DVD.
10. Beatles or Nirvana?
The Beatles, because they are more real to me. They were part of my life.