As an American, I must say that one of my favorite things is good old American barbecue. This is something that we do better than any other place on Earth and the American south offers a tale of succulent goodness. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of our many fantastic BBQ restaurants here in North Florida and one of my personal favorites. After some gentle harassment I was able to get in touch with Keith Johnson, General Manager of Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar on Beach Blvd.
Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar stands as a fine example of what American barbecue should be like; flavorful, juicy, tender, and down right delicious. As the interview began in the back of Mojo’s kitchen, I started grilling (no pun intended…ok, well sort of) Keith on some of the in depth questions that we all want to know. I came to find out that the owner, Todd Lineberry’s family was originally from North Carolina, and that this had been the start of the culinary quest into developing some of the best barbecue the First Coast has to offer.
Todd had traveled across the South to experience the best of the best that our great nation has to offer in the realm of barbecue. Todd’s culinary pilgrimage had taken him to the most famous barbecue establishments that the American South had to offer in the regions of Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and his home state of North Carolina. From this experience he developed the first concept of Mojo’s, a restaurant that brings the flavor and soul he experienced on his journeys to the world’s most renowned barbecue joints.
“So whats the skinny Keith, whats the most popular menu item in this place?”, I asked. Keith told me that a longtime customer favorite is the Kansas City Burnt Ends which is an appetizer and the pulled pork is the most popular main course. Speaking from personal experience the homemade banana pudding is a great way to finish off a meal. Keith told me that another very popular customer favorite is the signature brisket. Barbecue lovers know that a good sauce is a big deal, so I inquired what the most popular sauce was. Keith told me that the sweet sauce is one of their most popular. In addition Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar features a full bar and many whisky inspired signature cocktails.
Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar sees approximately 225 guests a day and while they may not feature any PPV events, they have featured live entertainment from artists such as two time Grammy winner James Cotton famous in the world of blues music. This is one example of how Mojo’s attempts to bring the flavor and soul of Memphis’s Beale Street, the Mecca for barbecue and blues music, to the shores of the First Coast.
Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar has always been conscious about giving back to it’s community and participates in fund raising for Jay Fund, provides food at TPC for veterans and their families, donates food for Catty Shack(large exotic cats, lions & tigers retirement), and is also involved in the “Caring Chefs” event at Avenues Mall.
Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar and its parent company Mojo Q Holdings Inc have been blessed with lots of success in the local market and currently stands at six restaurants strong with plans to open additional locations in Ocala and Lakeland in the near future. Keith believes that there are no short cuts to greatness and as an example he pointed to the fact that Mojo Kitchen BBQ & Blues Bar spends 13-14 hours a day smoking their meats in a wood fire smoker.
Check them out online at; www.mojobbq.com.
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Written and published for BUZZ Magazine, April 2016.