DOWNERS GROVE – The western suburbs loves its Italian beef, but a new Downers Grove restaurant thinks diners will find a place in their hearts for authentic Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches, too.
"So my take on the Philly cheese steak is a very specific thing," said Mojo's East Coast Eats co-owner Jon Scoggin. "Being here for 11 years, I love Chicago Italian beef. But a Philadelphia cheese steak is a completely different animal. A lot of people offer a Philly cheese steak, but it's never a real one."
His first tip off when he's being served an inferior Philly cheese steak?
"If it's got green peppers on it, it's not the real deal," he said.
Mojo's hefty Philly cheese steak sandwiches are made with shaved ribeye steak, bread sourced from Philadelphia, grilled onions and a choice of three cheeses offered by sandwich stands in the City of Brotherly Love – white American, provolone or cheese whiz.
"A lot of people are shocked that we have cheese Whiz," he said. "Cheese Whiz is sort of a foreign concept here, but it's great. People taste it, and they love it."
In addition to the cheese steaks, the restaurant offers a full breakfast menu, including coffee from local roaster Metropolis and a sandwich featuring a maple breakfast sausage the size of a Polish. The lunch menu also features a chicken cheese steak, a buffalo chicken cheese steak with blue cheese dressing and an extensive list of hoagies made with fresh cut deli meat. All sandwiches are served with hand-cut fries.
"I think we're putting out a really good product," he said. "I work very hard at finding the best ingredients and keeping everything fresh. So we use a lot of fresh ingredients, we use as little frozen as we can. We make our soups from scratch, daily. Nothing is premade, we cook everything made to order."
Scoggin grew up about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia, and spent his youth working in east coast sandwich shops, he said. After a career in mortgage banking, he decided to make the leap and open Mojo's this spring with his wife, Molly, who works as a freelance advertising producer. The name Mojo is a combination of the first two letters of their first names.
"This opportunity presented itself, and my wife and I have always wanted to have some place like this," he said. "We said 'You know what, it's now or never.'"
The 35-seat restaurant offers both dine-in and take-out, and sits in the former Kozmos Eatery location at 2758 Maple Ave. Residents might also remember the spot as the former long-time space of Joyful's Cafe.
He said the location is well-suited to the commuter breakfast crowd due to its proximity to I-355, and the lunch crowd, because it sits near the industrial park.
"I'm not much of a routine guy, so in that way I think that this business suits me well, because there's always surprises," he said. "Something always needs attention. There's always a lot of challenges, and that's what makes it fun."
IF YOU GO
Mojo's East Coast Eats
2758 Maple Ave., Downers Grove
Offering breakfast, lunch and catering
6 a.m. - 2 p.m. Monday through Friday
7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday
Closed on Sundays