A year and a half ago, Justin Hintze announced that his Southeast Powell food cart, Jojo, would open as a restaurant. Since its opening in 2019, the fried chicken sandwich cart has developed significant buzz on the national level, with nods of approval from food writers like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Locals would line up for crunchy-crusted fried chicken topped with coleslaw or pepper relish, double-fried potato wedges with sides of Alabama white sauce, and satisfyingly messy burgers topped with caramelized onion and sambal mayo, all eaten at picnic tables within the John’s Marketplace pod.
Hintze’s new restaurant digs, set to open September 15, are in stark contrast with the bright blue carts. The dining room is lined with a dark-wood-and-burnt-orange banquette, straight out of a ‘70s lounge. Plants hang from a lattice structure over the tables, also draped over the bar where beverage director Ashelee Wells will shake cocktails and blend milkshakes. Disco balls and smoked glass pendant lights hang from the ceiling. “I wanted it to feel closer to an actual restaurant, in terms of the service we’ll be doing and the decor,” Hintze says. “It’s a much more luxurious vibe that people may expect.”
Jojo’s restaurant menu is less about changes and more about additions. The restaurant will have vegan versions of every sandwich on the menu, with dairy-free buns from An Xuyen Bakery. Pastry chef Christina Hoover will bake cheesecakes and cookies for the dessert menu, as well as two rotating plated desserts like vanilla bean pavlova with cola-macerated cherries and lime leaf powder.
Over at the bar, Wells will serve eight house cocktails, two slushies, and a few drinks playing off Utah’s elaborate tricked-out soda culture. Cocktails are meant to be playful accompaniments to the food; for instance, the house margarita blends French orange and passionfruit liqueurs, mango, and the house pepper relish often spotted on Jojo’s spicy sandwiches. Each milkshake on the menu will have a boozy counterpart, made with an iconoclastic combination of oat milk and Tillamook ice cream. “It’s kind of wild because it’s a cocktail with ice cream in it, as opposed to being a milkshake first,” Hintze says. “It threw me through a loop because it’s so complex.”
Like the milkshakes, there will be adult and family-friendly versions of Jojo as it gets rolling: During the day, the restaurant will be an all-ages spot for fried chicken and sodas. After about 9 p.m., the restaurant will become 21-plus for the rest of the evening. After Jojo gets its bearings, the restaurant will be open until 2 or 3 a.m. “We really want to be a late-night spot,” Hintze says. “There are so few spaces for that since COVID.”
The original blue truck will close and eventually reopen in its same spot. But those who want to experience Jojo 2.0 can visit the restaurant at 902 NW 13th Avenue on September 15. Take a look inside the restaurant below: