The Drag, UT’s ever-changing food and shopping scene, has lost four more staples over winter break — Moojo, Fat Sal’s, Jamba Juice and Austin’s Pizza. But Kokodak, a new restaurant, will be joining the area this week.
Kokodak specializes in Korean-style chicken wings and rice bowls, owner Hyo Lim said. The Korean and Japanese restaurant will hold a soft opening toward the end of this week and will host a grand opening in the middle of February. Lim said he decided to open the restaurant after noticing the lack of Korean food near campus despite UT’s large Asian student population.
Kokodak will be taking the place of Rise Biscuits and Donuts, which closed after less than a year of operation. Prior to that, the storefront had sat empty for months after Fuzzy’s Tacos closed without warning.
Austin’s Pizza still has another location near campus on Guadalupe and 29th streets. However, the Drag was Moojo’s only location. The shop opened four years ago and also has a catering business that will continue to be operated by catering manager Laurie Gardiner.
The Daily Texan reported last summer that restaurants and stores often struggle to survive on the Drag due to high rent and fluctuating sales depending on when classes are in session.
Gardiner, who has worked at Moojo for most of its time on the Drag, said the ice cream shop traditionally closes during winter break once classes end and students leave. Several other places on the Drag, including Lucky Lab Coffee Co., also do this.
But one day over the break, Gardiner arrived at the shop to find a note on the wall that said the rent had been raised and the owners, based in England, had decided to close it.
“A lot of the local businesses go out of business because of the prices, so it’s kind of sad,” Gardiner said.
Moojo caters an average of six to eight events per month, Gardiner said. She and her son, who was the shop’s assistant manager, are now operating out of a kitchen the owners rented for them.
Gardiner said the store had four full-time and numerous part-time employees, the latter of which were primarily students. She said she will miss getting to both work with and serve the student community.
“My son and I both absolutely love this job,” Gardiner said. “I have been in the restaurant business for about 22 years and this is honestly the funnest job I’ve ever had because of the clientele, the students … It’s really sad to me that it’s gone.”
Despite the loss of a storefront, Gardiner said she hopes to get the catering sales up to the point where the owners could possibly reopen somewhere else in Austin.
Fat Sal’s, Austin’s Pizza and Jamba Juice could not be reached for comment on why they closed and whether or not the restaurants would be reopening.