Mojo's will add spice to Hanover dining options

by Sarah Betts | 5/3/02 5:00am

Bright colors, fiesta music and the smell of spicy cuisine may not be things usually associated with Hanover, but that's about to change. Mojo's Bistro, a "border cuisine" restaurant that is under construction in part of the old Dartmouth Co-op, will add new flavor to local culinary offerings.

The restaurant, tentatively scheduled to open in July, is owned by Nigel Leeming, who also owns Murphy's on the Green.

The restaurant will serve "authentic Mexican cuisine with some dishes from the southwestern U.S.," Leeming said. The menu is still being developed, but it will include classics such as enchiladas, burritos, tamales and quesadillas and some regional Mexican dishes such as chile rellenos.

"We want a restaurant that is authentic, but addresses the needs of students and the town," Leeming said.

Mojo's will also offer a tequila bar and margaritas, the recipes for which Leeming found while touring the Southwest and Mexico to research a menu for his planned Main Street restaurant.

"We went from Texas to New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California and parts of Mexico," Leeming said. "We found 40- and 50-year-old recipes that people gave us because we wouldn't be competing with them."

The planned price range for the menu items ranges from around $5 to just under $20. According to Leeming, many items will be under $10.

The space that used to be occupied by the Dartmouth Co-op is being renovated to accommodate the restaurant. The dcor will include wild colors, painted brick, a zinc bar, a high ceiling and exposed pipes, Leeming said. The storefront will feature corn yellow awnings with the restaurant's name printed in red.

"It will be a place of celebration and fun," Leeming said.

He hopes that the restaurant will fill a niche in Hanover's restaurant offerings.

"We came up with a concept to fit into a void between standard American and Asian food," Leeming said. "It was too narrow a scope. We will hit an area in between."

Molly's manager Chip Pakenham said the restaurant will be good for Hanover business in general.

"It will bring in people, and when there is a crowd some of them will go eat at other area restaurants," Pakenham said.

The restaurant will also bring more jobs to the town, employing a total staff of about 35. Managers and chefs have already been hired.

Although the restaurant's name may make some think of Austin Powers, it actually refers to a Mexican cooking term that has a double meaning: "mojo de ajo." It can refer to garlic in fine oil, but also "creativity."