A taste of Puerto Rico in Hinesville

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HINESVILLE, Ga. (WTOC) – At a restaurant in Hinesville, locals and visitors alike can taste Puerto Rico.

JJ’s Bar and Grill is attached to the Econolodge off General Stewart Way. It’s tucked away at the back of the hotel, but the owner says once guests find it, they can’t help but come back.

“We get people from all over – Savannah, Pooler, Brunswick,” owner Jose Espada said.

Espada opened JJ’s seven years ago after spending 24 years in the military. Back then, says Espada, Hinesville didn’t have a huge Hispanic population, let alone Hispanic restaurants.

“We had a Dominican restaurant at the time, but when it comes to Puerto Rican and Puerto Rican food, there was nothing in town at that time,” Espada said.

The veteran, who always travels to Savannah for dining and entertainment options, decided it was time to introduce his culture to the town of Hinesville.

“A lot of people have heard of Latin cuisine, not just Mexican cuisine,” he said.

Like many businesses, JJ’s has been hit by the pandemic, cutting some of its staff.

“Initially, when the pandemic started, before we started receiving the loans. We had to shut everything down, ”Espada said.

But Espada says the restaurant is doing better. Karaoke nights are popular again, and patrons are back on the grounds for weekly salsa and bachata dance lessons.

“It’s a place where they can come and have a good time.

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