They Started in Erie
By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
They Started in Erie celebrates those successful stars who've lived and started out in our big, little town.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1915
Posted: June 29th, 2010
Caryn Kadavy, oylmpic figure skater

Caryn Kadavy, oylmpic figure skater

Who’s Who: Caryn Kadavy

Why care: Olympic competitor in the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, Kadavy is an internationally acclaimed figure skater, winning numerous awards throughout her career, both as an amateur and professional.

Erie Link: Born and (mostly) raised in Erie. She’s the only member of her family born in Erie—most hail from Pittsburgh. Caryn currently lives and works in Erie, teaching skating locally and in Jamestown.

Bling-bling: Her most noted accomplishments include  finishing as a top competitor in the World Figure Skating Championships three times, making the top three in the U.S. Skating Championships four years in a row, and taking first place in the Moscow Cup, Skate Canada International, and the U.S. Olympic Festival.

She’s a natural: Kadavy took to the ice easily, progressing rapidly after her father first plopped on the ice in a pair of double blade skates at the age of two.

Practice, practice, practice: Stranded from the ice during the summer months, Kadavy lived in Pittsburgh with her grandparents to train while the rinks in Erie were closed.

Climb to the top: When she needed more ice time and more consistent coaching to progress, Kadavy and her mother moved to Rockford, Illinois, following her coach Charlene Guarino. From Rockford, mother and daughter moved to Chicago to train with Debbie Stoery.

“She sacrificed her career for me,” said Kadavy of her mother during her early training years, “so it was hard when I didn’t make it to nationals.”

Big break: Training with Carlo Fassi at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Frustrated at a mediocre showings, Kadavy and her family nearly gave up the dream. However when Fassi spotted her at a competition, he saw her potential. Progressing rapidly under Fassi’s instruction, she made it to Nationals within the first year, and in four years, she was at the Olympic Games.

Simply couldn’t do it alone: Although Kadavy’s work ethic and passion fueled her success, she credits her family, friends, coaches, and sponsors for helping her get to—and stay—at the top.

“I am very lucky that I had such a strong family that helped and sacrificed so much for me,” said Kadavy.

Success is: “Having goals and achieving them under a certain amount of pressure,” said Kadavy, “Success comes in so many different levels, in so many different ways.”

In 2010: Kadavy teaches skating in Erie, Jamestown, and also teaches clinics across the country, including Lake Placid. “When I teach a new element, it can take [the students] a while, but it’s very rewarding to see them get it.”

Always a home in Erie: Kadavy will always love Erie. Even if she and her husband moved away, she says they would keep a condo locally—and know that they always have a home in the Erie community.

“Erie is a wonderful town—it’s simple. It’s big enough, but also intimate, being by the lake. It’s easy to live here.”

Have a famous friend? Let us know whom else you want us to feature from the biggest small town on They Started in Erie at

Posted: June 23rd, 2010
Eric Williams

Eric Williams, Erie native, restaurant owner

Who’s Who: Eric Williams

Why care: Celebrated owner and head chef of two of the hottest restaurants on Cleveland scene, Momocho and Happy Dog, and is just getting started making his mark on Cleveland’s palate.

Erie Link: Born in Erie, Williams and his parents moved when he was four. Aside from this Ohioan transplant and “a few Kansas City stragglers,” the majority of Williams’ family still lives in Erie.

15 Minutes of fame: Williams’ restaurant Momocho was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Momocho, named for his son in Mexican slang meaning “hellion little boy,” is much more than a diner, drive-in, or dive: Williams’ signature “mod mex” flavor adds a kick to the sleepy Midwest imitation of Mexican cuisine, converting newbies to regulars who return to Ohio City for more of his Oaxacan oasis.

Driven: A high school dropout, Williams wanted to prove to his dad he could become more than just a short-order cook. Always drawn to the kitchen and the “flavors of the sun,” Williams worked his way from grill boy to sous-chef to manager, traveling cross-country, choosing to work in restaurants pushing the envelope on creative Latin cuisine.

With his desire for independence and vision of bringing “mod Mex” to the table, opened Momocho, his first restaurant in March of 2006. Following a business plan he wrote between jobs, he transformed a locally beloved but tired bar and grill into a hot spot on restaurant row.

Why this bright star isn’t soon to fade: His love for his craft: giving people good food and a good time. “Owning a restaurant is like going out every night of the week for me,” said Williams, who loves the instant gratification of a customer’s reaction to the food or ambiance. “The return on your work in seen all the time.”

But Williams also downplays the power of personality, explaining the success of his first restaurant  is “a testament to Momocho itself.” He also co-owns Happy Dog, a corner bar whose innovative one-item menu celebrates the hot dog, but with your choice of endless topping options, including “alien” pickle relish, fried egg, and Oaxacan black chile mole.

Who says you can’t go home: Although the hustle and bustle of running two restaurants keeps Williams busy, Erie serves as his escape. He relaxes with family at his aunt’s place with ATVs and horses and plenty of space.

Favorite Erie food: Grandma’s oxtail sandwiches. Good home cooking always awaits this foodie when he returns to Erie. “My grandma really cooks every time I come home. Why go out?”

Want a taste? Visit Momocho in Cleveland’s historic Ohio City neighborhood, or head on over to Gordon Square to enjoy live music at Happy Dog with a hot dog in hand.

Have a famous friend? Let us know whom else you want us to feature from the biggest small town on They Started in Erie at