Moojo MOOves into the Drag
By Samantha Reichstein
We love cookies and ice cream.
Simple, though intriguing, the words showcased on the rainbow polka-dotted windows of Guadalupe Street’s newest store have locals wondering whom this “we” is, and what makes these cookies and ice cream so special.
Opening this summer, Moojo will be the latest addition to the Drag, but its success depends not just on the interest of customers, but the reality of conflicts that owners on Guadalupe have to conquer in order for business to thrive.
Moojo, an acronym meaning “Moments of Joy,” formed when a California couple decided to take their idea of ice cream sandwiches to a new level.
“We (had) some ice cream experience in California,” founder Matt Petersen said. “We sold our ice cream business out there, CREAM, because we wanted to make a brand . . . a 2.0 version of this idea.”
This 2.0 version advertises a homemade cookie and ice cream shop, which will sell a variety of warm cookies, ice cream, and other baked goods. Co-founder and wife, Ashley Peterson, will also be offering a variety of gluten-free, vegan-friendly options to potential customers.
“I know from personal experience that it’s really hard to find great vegan desserts; we want to bring this great food to people who can’t always find something sweet to eat,” said Ashley Peterson.
Teaming up with Lockhart Fine Foods and McConnell’s—two local, family-oriented factories in Austin—the Petersens created their choice of all-natural flavors for the ice cream, cookie dough and toppings sold in their store.
With plenty of dairy, vegan and gluten-free products to choose from, any customer will feel welcome. The Petersens hope to bring in customers with their food and keep them staying with their environment.
“With our branding and look, we are going for an atmosphere, a hangout destination,” Matt Petersen said.
University of Texas freshman Sophie Degani likes the idea of Moojo’s all natural products.
“The idea is something other Austin-ites will like as well. Knowing that you are enjoying a venue and supporting local farmers at the same time would be awesome,” said Degani.
Live music, late weekend hours and a potential delivery service are just a few other ideas Moojo has to become a dessert hit with the social scene.
With plans of opening this June, Moojo may find it hard to start a business so close to a college campus when classes are not in session. According to the Austin Business Journal, principal of Retail Solutions David Simmons states that many businesses do not realize the seasonal market restaurants on the Drag face.
“There’s no parking and summers can be slow,” Simmons said. “Even weekends throughout the year can be a [problem].”
As well, high rent costs may have been a leading factor in recent restaurants such as Texadelphia, The Rooftop and Campus Candy, another dessert venue occupying Moojo’s location, closing on the Drag. Simmons states rent can fluctuate $20 to $40 per square foot, leaving many businesses with the choice of keeping up with costs, or moving. In Moojo’s case, this could be a price of about $170,000 just for the storefront.
Peterson however sees the summer opening as a blessing rather than a curse.
“Yes, we are looking for student customers, but are hoping for a family atmosphere as well. Starting in the summer allows for many to enjoy a cool treat in the hot weather.”
Though Moojo may encounter some struggles, students seem excited for the store’s opening. “If Moojo makes the right moves, I can see it being a huge success,” UT sophomore Jonathan Dror said.
“I feel like the Drag is lacking a dessert place for people nearby, who could stop by for a late night craving.”
In addition to finding success on Guadalupe, Moojo will also face competition from other ice cream and cookie vendors such as Tiff’s Treats and Coolhaus.
Both selling similar foods, Petersen promises his products are different.
“With alternating flavors, a cream-based ice cream, and a student-geared demographic, our convenience will play a huge factor in making us stand out.”
Working on making each recipe just right, Petersen’s wife will personally be baking some of the products sold at Moojo.
“Since moving to Austin, I wanted a change and a fresh start,” she said. “Baking is something I have a real love for.”
This love for Moojo is reflected in their store’s value statement: moments of joy. “We really just want people to have a good time,” Petersen said. “That is our goal at Moojo.”
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