MUJO, the sushi to-go pop-up that garnered attention for its upscale ingredients and elegant packaging, is opening a permanent location on the west side in mid-2021. Currently operating out of Cooks & Soldiers, which is also run by Castellucci Hospitality Group (CHG), MUJO will serve a by-reservation-only omakase experience in the nearby space once home to Kane Boutique (691 14th Street). Led by sushi chef Jordan Trent Harris, who works with CHG on the pop-up, MUJO will offer an intimate, multicourse dining experience focused on nigiri.
“It’s been my passion project for years to bring this style of sushi to Atlanta with omakase at a sushi bar,” says Fred Castellucci, CEO of Castellucci Hospitality Group. “There’s something amazing about these tiny little spaces.”
Designed by Elizabeth Ingram Studio, the 1,500-square-foot space will feature a 15-seat sushi bar, six-seat cocktail bar, and an eight-seat private dining room. Harris will serve seafood sourced from Japan and hot and cold dishes made from local, seasonal produce and meat. The sushi is edomae-style, meaning it’s marinated and preserved for a few days before being served. The other dishes are kappo-style, combining various Japanese traditions to create a feast for the senses. The fully customizable MUJO feast will cost $100 to $200 per person, with beverage pairings additional.
We spoke to Castellucci for details.
Did you have any reservations about opening a brick-and-mortar in the middle of a pandemic?
I’m firmly an optimist. I believe that when this is all over, the things people haven’t been able to do for nine months are the first things they’ll want to do. They’ll go out and support restaurants.
Atlanta has always been one of the stronger growth markets in the U.S., and I don’t see that stopping. Any time we can put something unique out is interesting to me. The timing really gave us this opportunity.
[Before the pandemic,] Jordan and I had talked about doing a pop-up in Atlanta for May: an 8-seat omakase. As the pandemic started unfolding, we thought we could either put it on hold or reinvent it for takeout. The product we’re delivering is world-class. We got some good momentum [with the pop-up], enough to transition it into a brick-and-mortar space. [But] finding a small space and building it out is not easy.
How will the menu at the brick-and-mortar be different from that at the pop-up?
It’s a totally unique experience from the pop-up. The core of the menu is nigiri done in the edomae style. Then there will be hot and cold dishes based on seasonality. It’s a tasting menu experience, but with options. The food is light. It’s the type of place you could foresee being a regular at.
What will the space look like?
Dark, moody, and sexy, but also comfortable, with a certain level of luxury.
What else are you working on?
I’m working on a wine project. I’m partnering with an entrepreneur (Rachel Katz) to do something cool and unique around delivery. I’m also working on the expansion of Recess, our stall in Krog Street Market, to its first brick and mortar.