Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Sep 8, 2010 Patrons are reflected in a mirror at the new Mojo Burrito location in East Brainerd. After opening on the Labor Day weekend, it is the third Mojo Burrito, in addition to restaurants in St. Elmo and Red Bank.
With the opening of her third Mojo Burrito restaurant, owner Eve Williams is beginning to think about the future of her creation.
Her newest unit in East Brainerd might feel slightly different to those who have been to the locations in Red Bank and St. Elmo — and there’s a reason for that.
“We were trying to design it as our model store that can be replicated,” she said of the 3,000-square-foot space on Jenkins Road. “We were just trying to enhance what we have had for years and make this one easier to be able to duplicate.”
Williams is not actively looking for franchisers, but isn’t ruling out the possibility of one day having stores in cities such as Knoxville, Nashville or Atlanta. One thing is for sure though, if she does end up going down the franchise route, she wants to do it right.
“Our food is all made on-site fresh, and I don’t think the others can really boast that. That’s the downside to a franchise, having to have food shipped in so it’s all the same,” Williams said. “I’d like to figure out how I could sell this and still remain the way we are. If I couldn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t sell it.”
The new location, with its high ceilings and seating for about 70, doesn’t have quite the same eclectic feel as the first two, but Williams said she’s saving up money to put in an art wall with a gallery track system to give it more of the mom-and-pop look customers are used to.
A TV and the addition of draught beer — as well as beer that can be sold by the bottle or six-pack to be taken home, unopened — also sets the new location apart from the others.
Located in a portion of the former Gold’s Gym, the building was “like a blank slate” when construction began, said Doug Bassette, area manager. It took more than six months of work to clear the offices and child care area that were in the building and in their place create a kitchen, catering area and dining room.
* Seating room for about 70 people.
* Offers draught beer and beer by the bottle or six pack to take home (must be unopened and accompany a food purchase).
* Has one TV in an area with a “sports bar” feel with high top tables.
* Located at 1414 Jenkins Road, Suite 100.
Source: Eve Williams and Doug Bassette
Bassette said he and Williams looked at sites in Hixson, Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy, but eventually decided on East Brainerd because it is “near where all the action is at Hamilton Place and Gunbarrel, but not actually in the middle of all of it.”
Though the expansion of her business could be a sign of more to come, Williams said for now she’s most concerned with sticking to the idea she initially had in 2002 when she opened her first restaurant: to have a shop where everything is handmade and homemade.
“I’m just your average Joe out here, trying to make a buck for a living by making mountains out of molehills,” she said.
Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...