I’ve just recently met Christy Hayes, owner of Mojo’s and Kitchen428, and already I’m impressed. She has a strong work ethic, an ability to bring her vision to reality, and has created a place to build community. She tirelessly works to ensure she is successful but is sure not to place herself in the spotlight. Our conversation was short but what I got out of it was impactful.
Christy has renovated what was Morrison’s Upstairs and Bar, in the historical Jackson Building at Bush and First Streets, into more than just Mojo’s and Kitchen428; She has built a community hub. She has developed, coordinated and implemented events that bring hundreds of people to her little corner of Woodland. Mojo’s and Kitchen428 are more than a place to grab a drink or a bite to eat; it’s a place to gather and enjoy friendships new and old.
Here’s a list of some of the things Christy has accomplished;
- Veteran, United States Air Force
- Owner of a bar, restaurant, and banquet room
- Created Food Truck Mania – every first Sunday of the month on First Street
- Brought the Hot Summer Nights Car Show to downtown – every third Thursday
- Creator of the Woodland Events page on Facebook
- Sponsored the School Supply Drive
- Organizes multiple events at Mojo’s or Kitchen 428
- Open Mic Night – every Sunday
- Father’s Day Luau Pig Roast
- Mother’s Day Brunch
- Tiki Yolo – a pop-up Tiki Bar
Here’s my conversation with Christy Hayes.
When did you first think about opening your own business?
I guess I always envisioned it while I was working at Morrison’s. I was a bartender for six years with them. I don’t know if I envisioned it as me being the owner, but I would always think of it being a renaissance of the place, with a makeover and how I would want it to look. But this wasn’t originally wanted I wanted to do; I was going to school for a public relations degree. I wanted to do event coordinating. But when Morrison’s closed the opportunity was there.
What steps did you take toward opening Mojo’s & Kitchen428?
It started with a business plan. I got together with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC); it’s now in Yuba City. They gave me step by step help on my business plan, met with me every other week to review my plan, and they even helped with seating, fabric, menu and staff. It ended up being a 30-page business plan. I also used Morrison’s previous sales figures to project my first couple of years. I eventually ended up getting a Small Business Administration loan (SBA). The SBDC had tailored a business plan that fits exactly what the SBA people are looking for. It made it easier to do the application and get the paperwork together because of the SBDC.
Tell me the steps from receiving the keys to opening.
I gave my business plan to the building owners and presented to them, and they were on board! They received redevelopment funds from the City, so with a portion of those funds I was able to do the renovation. I wanted a new look, so everything had to be ripped out; repainted, new carpet, new ceiling…everything. We started in August 2011 and opened our doors January 23, 2012. It was a long process; waiting for the liquor license, getting everything put together, and every time construction worked in a new area we found more work that needed to be done. It had been since the 1980’s since any renovations had been done. We still have the pipes from when the building had gas lighting.
There are a lot of different styles to your interiors. Where did you get the ideas?
A lot of bars and restaurants in Sacramento. The doors on the ceiling and shutters are an adaptation from Ella in mid-town. I use to work at 1022, which had an exposed ceiling. I liked both looks, so I incorporated them together. The wall of mirrors comes from a restaurant that is no longer in business, called Good Eats. Mojo’s has an old town feel and came from when I worked in Old Sacramento. I went for the old time saloon feel; like the tin roof ceiling and wood colors. I happen to be a fan of bars and restaurants, so I pulled from everywhere I’ve been. And I still do to this day, I’m always looking and seeing what others are doing. For instance, at the end of your dinner, your check comes to you in an old book. That idea came from Mulvaney’s, and they still do it.
What other spaces within the building do you have?
I have the banquet space on the third floor, the second-floor balcony and a small office on the second floor. The banquet space is the former hub of Morrison’s. That is a work in progress; we do a little bit at a time. Since taking it over, we’ve changed the carpeting, the ceiling, lighting, recovered the booths and this year I’m working on getting new tables. The banquet room holds up to 50 people, and it’s nice for small groups; meeting dinner, or party size of 25 and larger up to 50 is good. It also has a full bar, the same bar that was there from Morrison’s.
You do a lot for the community from promoting events to managing and creating events. Where does that passion come from?
I have a passion for events. Mojo’s and Kitchen428 has been a vehicle to allow me to be able to have large events. I like community events, and I saw that Woodland was lacking a lot of community events. There is more I want to do, I have a lot of ideas, but I have a restaurant to run! Some day, though. I’m hoping I can be the spark and catalyst for others to start their own events. It’s catching on. More events can be downtown. I worked with the Car Show folks for two years and made that happen. I’m working on the BrewFest now.
Mojo’s & Kitchen428
428 First Street
Woodland, Ca 95695