MoJo’s: Growing by leaps and bounds
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Seeing the downtown developing into a hub of activity, Matt & Jen Olson and their family wanted to play a part in the downtown culture and help it thrive and grow.
Taking their original business concept, they revised their plans and sought out a downtown location.
“We originally were looking into doing a food truck but then as we talked a bit more we decided to use the food truck concept to create that within a brick and mortar,” said Jen Olson.
They found an ideal location in a building being restored by Chris & Erin Howard at the intersection of Second Street and Central Avenue. Located a block from the Wenzel Family Plaza, on the Second Street Corridor, it was a perfect fit.
While the Olsons had hesitations about the venture, they believed in what they were doing and what it could do for the family, and opened “Mojo’s Pasta House & Cajun Cook Shack.”
“Like anyone looking into opening a new business, we were nervous about everything from generating enough business to cover the cost of keeping the doors open to deciding on the menu and the actual concept,” Jen said. “We decided that we believed in what and why we were doing this so as long as we stayed true to our family and who we are that we could do it.”
Jen added that the family was surprised and “overwhelmed by the support” during the challenges of their first couple of years.
That support helped catapult the business into a new venture.
During the 2020 environment, the Olsons decided to bump up a project included in their five to seven year plans.
“With everything changing, we decided that we needed to find a way to make the plans move forward way ahead of our original timeline,” Olson added.
“We are fortunate to be approaching our third year and within the past nearly three years, we have been able to bring on additional staff, grow our customer base and recently were able to open Bleu Plate, which is our deli and specialty market.
“The Bleu Plate is something we talked about as a long term goal. We wanted to create a space that brought back the old school traditional delicatessen/corner bodega. We want it to be a place to stop in to grab a quick sandwich and a little conversation as well as the place to be able to order your meats and cheeses sliced the way you want, taste a few new things and be able to ask questions about what you are buying. The kind of ‘counter culture,’ where you feel like you are standing in your mom’s/friend’s kitchen while they are preparing your meal.”
The Olsons expanded into the space next door in the same building and opened “Bleu Plate – Mojo’s Deli & Market.”
With the work they completed on the space the Olsons qualified for the Main Street Downtown Interior Facade reimbursement grant, which was split between them and the building owners.
“This reimbursed us for a portion of the work that we did on the Bleu Plate space,” Jen said.
Jen added that the move downtown has been a plus to their development and growth.
“We love our downtown location. We have wonderful neighbors that support and encourage us. We also love seeing the new businesses that are choosing the downtown location. With all of the diverse, fun things to do downtown along with all of the businesses and shops there are, we feel having a space here is perfect for us.”