At Jo Koy’s restaurant, reconnecting with old friends, watching the comedy A-Lister serve tables

Jo Koy shares a selfie with his mother Josie Herbert (far right), the author, and his mom Marilyn Gayoso-Flores. Photos courtesy of Brendan Flores

Jo Koy shares a selfie with his mother Josie Harrison (far right), the author, and his mom Marilyn Gayoso-Flores. Photos courtesy of Brendan Flores

By Brendan Flores

Prior to becoming the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) chairman and Wells Fargo Regional Banking Leader, I was a radio talk show host in Las Vegas. Little did I realize, I was following the footsteps of my Tita Josie who was the first female Filipino American radio talk show host in Vegas and retired Wells Fargo Branch Manager.

You’ve probably come across her name before. Josie Harrison is the mother of stand-up comedian Jo Koy whose full name is Joseph Glenn Herbert. Jo Koy gives credit to his Filipino mom for being “naturally funny” and inspiring his comedic gift.

Those who have followed his career as a humorist know Jo Koy’s parents separated when he was 10 years old, and his mother singlehandedly provided for her four children. “Hustle and drive,” he learned from his mother.

Jo Koy and his American father – who served in the military — have reconnected, and all is well between the two of them now after they were estranged for many years. From what I’ve read Jo Koy is trying to be the best father to his son known as Little Joe, which sparked Jo Koy’s series of Ting Ting jokes.

I was in Las Vegas visiting my family for the holidays and thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce them to Jo Koy’s restaurant Yojie Japanese Fondue, founded in 2015. I called Tita Josie to check if I needed to make a reservation for my mom and sisters and discovered I didn’t.

Jo Koy with fiancée Amy Bray

Jo Koy with fiancée Amy Bray

Yojie was crowded that night since Jo Koy tweeted he would be having dinner there. The ambiance was intimate and welcoming – just like going to your Auntie’s house. As packed as it was, Jo Koy’s mom had seats waiting for us. At first glance, we noticed Jo Koy greeting and interacting with guests, jumping from table to table taking pictures and selfies; you could tell how humble of a person he is.

Tita Josie and I caught up after all these years, and she even shared the Christmas present she received from her son – a Gucci bag. And though she isn’t wealthy, you can tell she’s rich in love from her family. She also introduced me to Jo Koy’s fiancée, Amy Bray, which was an absolute pleasure. I had the opportunity to speak with Jo Koy about his restaurant and how much he enjoyed operating his own business. His words resonated after seeing how well he treated his guests and staff.

The restaurant was clean and spotless, the team members were disciplined, yet warm and accommodating. Last but not least, the food was very inviting. We enjoyed our dinner: thinly sliced Kobe beef cooked in a tonkatsu soup broth. Jo Koy offered my family dessert, a sumptuous plate including fondue and ube ice cream, a treat I’ll never forget.

It was an incredible experience enjoying the meal with my family, Tita Josie and Jo Koy, a genuine person who grew from humble beginnings and became successful following his passions. Yojie, which is a family restaurant reflects a big part of what Jo Koy is about: That family comes first and that he loves good food.

Business and community leader Brendan Flores is the National Chairman of the largest affiliation of Filipino American organizations in the US, NaFFAA. He is Vice President/Regional Banking District Manager at Wells Fargo, responsible for managing the bank’s retail business in Florida’s Clay and St Johns market.

© The FilAm 2018

Josie with Jo Koy’s son Joseph Jon, and his cousin Tre Doyle.

Josie with Jo Koy’s son Joseph Jon, and his cousin Tre Doyle.

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