mojo_taco_lounge_2013Autumn Pittman and A.J. Gregson, a couple who work at the One Stop restaurant in downtown Asheville, are asking the public for $25,000 to help them remodel the One Stop into a new eatery called Mojo Taco Lounge. The restaurant would feature Caribbean-Latin inspired street food made with fresh ingredients. More from the Mojo Kitchen & Lounge page on indiegogo:

A couple of months ago after our last event of the season, KP, the owner of the One Stop/ AshevilleMusic Hall approached us about taking over the kitchen.  This opportunity would not only enable KP to focus more on her passion, which is booking shows and running the 2 music venues but also put 2 people who truly are passionate about food and hospitality in the position to really showcase the restaurant component.  This would give the “Mojo Taco Lounge” a home; however, it needs a little love. This fundraising campaign is about improving something that already has a solid foundation in a supportive community.  It is about making good better. …

We are hoping to raise $25,000 in order to improve the overall feel of the dining room and efficiency of kitchen operations. A majority of the funds will be used for updates and remodeling but the kitchen needs help too. Currently operating with sub par equipment, A.J. struggles to maximize efficiency as well as creativity due to kitchen limitations. We will need a larger flat-top griddle and a better-functioning oven. We would also love to have a commercial grade food processor since the new menu will involve a lot more shredding and chopping. If the kitchen doesn’t run well then the restaurant itself cannot run well.

Also, the funds gathered through this campaign will not only benefit the restaurant but also the people who help us complete our vision of creating a more cohesive, welcoming space. We will be hiring local artists and craftsmen to do the work necessary to tie it all together.

45 Comments

  1. Maybe they could ask the (alleged) drug dealers for a donation to keep their open air market in service.

    Just a thought.

  2. Another reason why not says:

    The problem is the one stop has operated as an open air drug market with all the perks: vomit in the sidewalk, people passed out in doorways, and worse. The kitchen was just renovated within the last couple of years, and it didn’t help. Trust me, that space is nasty and no one wants to eat food from there. If you are on the fence, walk by the one stop any night and you will suddenly not be hungry anymore….

    • Another reason why not says:

      *allegedly*

    • Is their shit any good?

      The dealers, I mean, not the lounge.

    • @AnotherReasonWhyNot, you speak of things you don’t know and people who do that are ignorant. People caught w/drugs at One Stop/AMH are consistently kicked out, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. At least they don’t have their security peering in over the stall door at you like at the Orange Peel. And you’re totally wrong about all the kitchen equipment, again showing your ignorance.

    • mojo kitchen &lounge says:

      I cannot speak as to your accusations but I can tell you that the kitchen was most definitely NOT renovated in the last couple of years. It is the same equipment that was in there when the place was Stella’s and it is all quite old and inefficient. I’m curious as to when the last time you ate there was? A.J. has been manager there for a little over a year and has worked very diligently to improve kitchen operations on all levels. Regardless, it is our intention to improve the overall vibe of the place and we hope that you will come check out the changes we are making. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  3. Damn there are a bunch of criticizing comments on here. I cant believe how many hateful, hypocritical, jealous assholes there are out there. All these folks talking about how they start their businesses on their own which is bullshit. All of you business owners know you had to get mommy and/or daddys help(inheritance) handouts, loans ets. to get started. Anyways, I see nothing wrong with their strategy of raising money. This would be a much more peaceful world if more people reached out and helped one another! I struggle just to keep a roof over my families heads and food on the table but I would be happy to contribute to help them fulfill their goals. Peace!! 🙂

  4. Giving money to a for-profit business is stupid and gross. I’m going to donate to you so I can spend my money at your restaurant? Folks of course have the right to do this, and if you wanna donate to a business go ahead. But its just awful. Give the money you were going to give to Taco Town to a charity- its cold. The homeless need blankets and coats more the Asheville needs another taco place.

    • Kinda hard to argue with that logic…

      • No, it’s quite easy.

        The world has a million ways you can contribute your time and your money. To your local community, to the world community. It’s up to you to decide where and how you will spend.

        Others criticizing your philanthropy is as crass as someone criticizing your choice of spouse.

        How’s that?

        • Categorizing “philanthropy” as giving money to a for-profit business venture is a bit of stretch, to put it mildly.

          There’s a difference between charity for a humanitarian cause (the very definition of philanthropy) and a hand-out for someone looking for a shortcut to realizing a business dream. Why you can’t understand that, and see why some of us see this approach of raising money as embarrassingly tacky, is the real question here.

          I’m sure these folks are great people and all, and if they can actually raise that much money from public donations, then more power to them.

    • mojo kitchen &lounge says:

      For profit is not necessarily a dirty wrd when we are talking about a small local business that is involved in the community. I have worked in non- profits all my life and there is also a dirty under belly to some of those as well. But we must look for what virtue exists in the world if we wish to make it a better place. Right?

      We will be involved in many efforts to provide food to those who need it. We are very excited about the prospects of donating soup for Manna’s annual “Empty Bowl” benefit. If the community helps us succeed we will help the community in return. It is a give take relationship.

  5. I don’t understand why people get worked up about this type of funding. I had to put my house on the line 10 years ago, I would MUCH rather have preferred this method! I’m more jealous than mad.

    I do want to echo the statements of others however. Even if tacos are not the main focus of your menu, the whole Latin/Latin-fusion restaurant is maxed out in this town. You can make food better and/or cheaper than the others, but that might not be enough to differentiate yourself from others.

    Food after 1 am however…

    • mojo kitchen &lounge says:

      What is the difference in someone who creates drama, or a painting or music or some electronic device receiving support? Is it because those things are considered “art”? I would argue that what we are doing is also art. Culinary Art. And the work we are putting into the decor and feung shui if you will is also a creative endeavor. And while we are a “for profit business” that simply means we want to make money, but in reality a successful business is a plus for the community, especially one like us who will be using other local business for many of our food sources. This is a win-win. It is not our intention to come into the community and just take. I have lived here for 11 years and one of the reasons is because of the strong sense of community and local economy that exists. Being a functioning part of that is top priority to us. I hope that you all who are not so supportive in this thread will at least come check us out and give us a chance to show you what we are doing and then decide if we deserve your support or not.

  6. Asheville Pizza and Brewing solicited funds on at least two occasions in this same manner and it worked for them .Asking your existing clients is a valid form of raising money. Everyone has the right to say yes or no!

  7. I know these beautiful people – they are kind, generous, honest, hard-working, and they make the kind of food that I would travel to downtown Asheville, park, and walk to this place just to eat their food. AJ has a food booth at LEAF, and last festival – I ate there 2x a day because it was fresh, gluten-free, delicious, and priced right.
    If you don’t want to help them, then don’t. This type of kickstarter-style campaign is the new wave of raising money for personal projects such as recording music, opening a small business, paying for medical expenses, etc. If you don’t like it – then don’t give them anything! Why do people have to be so critical? What’s wrong with asking??

    • Actually the food booth at LEAF was called John Beau’s Gumbo and Aj was an employee. When John beau didn’t want the Booth anymore, he gave it to me and I called Aj to come to Asheville be a partner and and make half of the profit. Even though I supplied everything and paid for all expenses, all he had to do was make the food and manage the people. 2 years later he had applied under his name 2 times and decided to send a letter to LEAF saying my kitchen did not exist anymore (John Beaus Gumbo) and now it was his food booth (mojo taco lounge), which was a complete LIE. I know these people too Kelly (for 8 years) and they used to be some of my best friends, but from their conniving behavior I have unfortunately found out that they are far from “honest”. Their business tactics include backstabbing their own friends to try to get ahead.

  8. reallypeople says:

    Didn’t the one stop just revamp itself? Why would I give money to a place that didn’t get it right so recently. Just put tacos on your menu, you have a kitchen already. Salsa can’t be that expensive.

  9. I’m not as troubled as some by the ask. tell them Nancy Reagan told you to just say no.

  10. Does anyone every actually meet their goal with these things?

  11. North Asheville Neighbor says:

    Please, no more gringo tacos.

  12. I twisted no one’s words.

    I’m just curious to know how this is at all unseemly, especially given that it’s a completely voluntary action on the part of those contributing.

    “Breaks are offered in exchange for meeting certain conditions that ostensibly promote the public interest.”

    Ok, you had to have been snickering when you typed that!

  13. I’ve gotta agree with Entrepreneur and Matt. I’ve never been to One Stop and I’m not saying the Mojo Taco won’t be terrific, but IMO this method of financing your business is not much different from the guy on the corner who asks me for change.

    Get a loan. Work your ass off. Work another job if you have to. Assume you’ll lose money the first year or two.

    Or maybe I’m just bitter because I did it the old fashioned way and earned every bit of money I put into my business, and never thought to simply ask for a handout.

    • “Or maybe I’m just bitter because I did it the old fashioned way and earned every bit of money I put into my business, and never thought to simply ask for a handout.”

      Bingo!

  14. Great folks. If you are able, you should give them some support.

  15. Please keep Bluegrass Brunch!!!!!!! Tacos are good but not very exciting………

    • mojokitchen&lounge says:

      Don’t worry the bluegrass brunch isn’t going anywhere! We are going to be sharing space with the One Stop and keeping several of the current menu items and bringing back chicken & waffles. This is really a way to bring more to the current space than is presently offered by dividing the responsibilities. And I hope you will try our tacos as they are not what I would call dull.

      • Whew…. Still Bluegrass Brunch and brining back the waffle chickens. All is good with the world! I look forward to trying out the tacos and wish y’all the best of luck. Hard work and good food seem to pay off in the ‘Ville

  16. No no no no…

  17. Don’t bother with crowd sourcing and go straight to corporate panhandling?

    Interesting tactic. It will be even more interesting to see if it works.

  18. Entrepreneur– amen!

  19. Entrepreneur says:

    I find it really annoying to see people asking the public to give them money for a for-profit business.

    If the restaurant is successful are they going to give the first 25k (after expenses and paying themselves) to charity? Back to the people who financed with prime plus two interest?

    I mean, really, let’s be honest: when you open a business you do it because you’re (hopefully) doing something you like, and because you’re trying to make money. Hustle, find someone to lend you money, find alternative means of financing, write a good business plan and get MountainBizWorks (who, last I checked do loans of this size or even slightly larger) or a bank to loan you money…or not. Just see if a bunch of kindly strangers will give it to you.

    Sorry for the rant, but it’s something I’ve seen several times in this town in the last couple of years, and I find it appalling. If you have a 501(c)3 and you’re doing something to better the community, then sure, go ahead and ask everyone you can for money and hopefully someone will give it to you. But if you’re just trying to create a profitable business like the rest of us, well, then get creative and figure out how to finance it. Or maybe small business ownership just isn’t your bag.

    • So, it’s bad because… people trying to do something they love try to get support from the community to help them realize their vision?

      Because they are using this route as opposed to other ones (the only ones you apparently feel are legitimate)?

      I’m curious. You’re an “entrepreneur”, yet your position seems to be that for-profit businesses do not contribute enough to the community to warrant receiving money directly from the community.

      Or is it that you feel that the entire premise of giving money to people in order to do anything that could create profit for them is illegitimate?

      So, as an “entrepreneur,” do you support tax breaks that provide financial leniency to corporations to build or expand businesses?

      Perhaps you are for “creative” financing, but as long as it’s a method you approve, or to a business you approve.

      • Your twisting Entrepreneur’s words. He/she said nothing about for-profit businesses not contributing to the “community”—merely that it may be unseemly for an organization that aims to make money for itself (an entirely legitimate end) to solicit what is essentially charity. If people who fund the business aren’t receiving anything, then they’re donating. Entrepreneur’s point is that there’s a finite amount of dollars in town available to be donated, so this could divert money away from causes such as Pisgah Legal, MANNA, etc.

        It’s not equivalent to tax breaks (which, in the eyes of a lot of people, are unjustifiable anyway, but we’ll leave them alone for now). Breaks are offered in exchange for meeting certain conditions that ostensibly promote the public interest. Most often, tax breaks are way of offsetting some sort of risk to the investor—opening in a struggling neighborhood, navigating costly regulation, guaranteeing jobs, and so on.

        I don’t mean to slag on the Mojo Taco team. I think the concept is worthy (and quite tasty). But I share entrepreneur’s reservations about this sort of financing.

    • I’m definitely in agreement with Entrepreneur.

      I’ll add one thing: Please not another taco joint!

      There are more than enough of these.

      • Foothills Dweller says:

        Amen to that – wonder if there’s going to be a brewery attached?

        I said the same exact thing that Entrepreneur said a few months back on someone’s FB page who was soliciting funds, and I got ripped a new asshole. Anyone else gets a small business loan, not asks for money from the public, especially when they can’t claim it as a tax deduction for their contribution.

        • “Anyone else gets a small business loan, not asks for money from the public, especially when they can’t claim it as a tax deduction for their contribution.”

          That seems to be the crux of everyone’s argument here. “That’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!” And that’s about as half-assed an argument as ever I’ve heard. And it reeks of jealousy and bitterness (which was admitted above by another).

          Well, all I can say is, “Get used to it.” If people are willing to give money to another to help their business, with tokens of appreciation instead of interest in return, who the hell are you to judge? For ostensible capitalists, you really are off-book here.

          Why do you all seem so surprised that people would prefer not dealing with banks? Honestly that seems the least sane option I can imagine.

          • Chris,

            You are the commenter showing hostility and judgement. The folks opposing the fundraising are voicing their opinions. Is that not one of the purposes of the comment section? I am sure you will share your blasphemy about my post.

      • mojokitchen&lounge says:

        While the title of the article says “Mojo Taco Lounge” I wish the author would have used the title of our fundraising campaign, which is Mojo Kitchen & Lounge. The “Mojo Taco Lounge” was the name we used in the festival circuit that we have been working for the past few years but in this new endeavor, in an effort to not pigeon-hole ourselves, we are re-branding. And while we will have tacos on our menu it will not be the only thing we offer and I hope that you will stop in and check us out. Either way, whether we raise the funds to do all the improvements or not, we are assuming control of kitchen operations on January 15th.

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