MJ's Fish and Chicken Express closes restaurant to focus on catering operations

MJ’s Fish and Chicken Express is shifting its business model again, this time to focus on catering and special events.

Jerome Taylor started the restaurant as a food truck in August 2015, but the business grew quickly and he soon rented space at 230 South Grand Ave. East. In 2017, he purchased his current building at 716 E. Enos Ave., which was a turn-key operation from the previous occupant, Susie Q’s restaurant.

However, Taylor said he’s struggled with staffing issues since he started, and “the work environment for us right now has become intolerable. We’re just going to go a different direction and focus strictly on catering, which I can do with less manpower.”

June 11 was the last day of operating MJ’s as a restaurant, and Taylor said he hopes that the focus on catering will allow his family more flexibility. “If this goes the way I want it to go, that will offer us the most flexibility in terms of our time, rather than having to be committed to a certain time frame so many days a week.”

Taylor said he will cook food for people to pick up for special events, or also offer the option of renting out the space for small group gatherings or private lunches. “I want to explore more opportunities, and I’m hoping to really build the fundraising part of the business as far as providing food for fundraisers.”

Taylor hasn’t ruled out reopening the restaurant someday, but said it seems unlikely. “The door is not shut to opening again, but I’d have to have an infusion of help that I don’t see coming right now. I have a lot of mixed emotions, but at this point, changing the focus seems like the best choice,” he said.

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