One of the city’s most popular new businesses will reopen as scheduled next summer despite some water damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy.
MOGO, the Korean taco stand located next to the First Avenue Pavilion on the boardwalk, is one of the boardwalk’s pop-up businesses, located in converted shipping containers along the boards. Owners Samuel Chung and Jason Devino started serving up their brand on Korean-Mexican fusion last May and shut their doors for the off-season in the second week of October.
During Hurricane Sandy, which hit on Oct. 29, the ocean’s waves poured over the boardwalk, with most of the businesses there experiencing flooding. MOGO, however, was loosened from its foundation and floated across the street toward the Empress Hotel. The popup can be seen to the right of the construction crane in the top photo.
The eatery was full of equipment when it detached from its foundation — two refrigeration units for display cases; a reach-in fridge; a reach-in freezer; a refrigerated toppings case; a metal container for office supplies; a 72-inch griddle; a deep fryer; stainless steel tables and three sinks.
Most of the steel equipment can be restored with cleaning, but the owners will have to gut the inside and replace floors and walls due to some flooding that occurred inside the popup. They’ll also need to restore electric wiring inside the popup.
“Believe it or not, I feel like we were one of the luckiest ones on the Asbury Park boardwalk,” Chung said.
Because their structure floated, the equipment inside didn’t shift too much, he said. In some stationary businesses, the ocean’s waves turned some sandbags into projectiles and caused equipment to bang up against rear walls.
Chung and Devino are waiting to hear back from their insurance company, which does not cover flooding but may cover them for wind damage. They’re also thinking about seeking small business loans, which are made available with low interest rates by FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and SBA [The U.S. Small Business Association] after natural disasters.
Either way, they will definitely be open again next summer, Chung said. They shot to popularity last summer with their simple menu of tofu, chicken, beef and pork tacos.
“We had no idea how it would be received by the public,” Chung said. “The positive response from everyone was pretty overwhelming and humbling. It was awesome. I’m still shocked at how well it went.”
[Photo above right inset with story shows the Korean Taco eating contest at MOGO in October.]