Mojo on the Move

Mojo Burrito at its original St. Elmo location. Photo by Abby Whisler.

Mojo Burrito at its original St. Elmo location. Photo by Abby Whisler.

The local tex-mex restaurant Mojo Burrito in St. Elmo will be moving across the street this spring. The current location is 3815 St. Elmo Ave., Chattanooga, Tenn. The new location is where Slick’s Burgers used to be at 3950 Tenn. Ave., on the hill above Mr. T’s.

Eve Williams, owner of Mojo Burrito, said last year she had decided to either move the St. Elmo location or close it. Williams said there were two problems with the current place: the brand new AC system was inadequate, making employees and customers hot—especially in the summer—and plans for an apartment complex in the building adjacent to Mojo would block access to the restaurant. “Mojo was already so hard to get to. We were struggling with parking spots,” Williams said. The current location has street parking, but no parking lot. According to Williams, the current location does not have a full kitchen. Food is made at the Red Bank Mojo and brought to St. Elmo daily.

Early last year, Williams began calling property owners in St. Elmo. The owner of the old Slick’s location told her that Slick’s lease was ending in August, and the space would become available at that time. Williams decided to move Mojo to that location. Williams said Slick’s had “another concept it was working on.” The old location was not suitable to this concept, so Slick’s is now in the process of moving to Main Street. Slick’s asked Williams for a little more time in the old space while the Main Street space was under construction. Williams gave Slick’s until December so that construction on the new Mojo’s could begin.

Mojo’s new location will have a parking lot with 32 spaces. The space inside the restaurant will increase by 35 percent, from just over 2,000 square feet to about 2,700 square feet, including a screened-in deck with seating, said Williams. The new place will also have a full kitchen. Williams said she has "surprises up her sleeve" for the new place.

The new Mojo Burrito location. Photo by Abby Whisler.

The new Mojo Burrito location. Photo by Abby Whisler.

Along with its own entrance, the new Mojo’s will also have direct access from the BI-LO parking lot, Williams said. The investment on the move to the new location is about $200,000, Williams said.

The contractor for the new location is Joe Brogdon, and the architects are Mathis/Ewing Architects. “I wish I could give an exact date [for the opening of the new Mojo], but all I can give is the window of spring. We’ve already been delayed six weeks, had to get different permits, and had major setbacks. I don’t dare give a date. But we’re in the big construction now,” Williams said. 

According to an employee at Mojo, new employees have already been hired for the larger location.

Mojo has become a popular business since Williams opened it in 2002. “When I first moved to Chattanooga, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a burrito shop,” Williams said. When she decided to open Mojo, she said she “winged it, got lucky, worked really hard, and never gave up.”

“One thing that leads to our success is that we are about the community and for the community. To me that’s success, not what comes through the cash register,” Williams said.“I’ve always believed in real, fresh food. [At Mojo] we care about the food we’re serving; we care about the people we’re serving.”