After a long search, exacerbated by the pandemic, for the right tenant to fill the large restaurant space on the Plaza of The Shops at Woodmont Metro, Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch announced Thursday that MexiModo: Modern Cocina & Bar will bring its vibrant dining and drinking experience to downtown.
The new concept, which comes from the owners of Le Malt Lounge in Colonia and Le Malte Royale in Red Bank, will open in the beginning of 2023, joining a number of new tenants in the downtown area, just steps away from the Metuchen Train Station, including Cinnaholic, Hatch 44, Soul Bowls, Awesome Yo and more.
Busch says MexiModo will activate the Plaza in new and exciting ways.
“This is a transitional phase for this area,” the mayor said at a Thursday press conference on the Plaza. “A year from now, this area is going to be completely transformed. This is going to be one of the most vibrant parts of our downtown right here.”
MexiModo, which will have indoor, outdoor and bar seating, and a lounge, will also feature the largest selection of tequila in New Jersey with a to-go window on the Plaza.
Saurabh Abrol, Le Malt COO, is leading the project, and noted that he also serves as CEO and president of Wine Chateau, so his family has extensive ties to Metuchen.
“I am the CEO and my dad is the founder of Wine Chateau. We’ve been in town for a little over 20 years,” Abrol explained. “So, you can imagine how much we love this town. And we were just looking for other opportunities to do business here in Metuchen and we found it. After years of great success in Metuchen, we are truly honored to break ground on a brand-new project unlike any you have in New Jersey.”
Woodmont Properties Executive Vice President Stephen Santola detailed the process of finding the right tenant, especially during COVID, to fill the unique space that he described as a “behemoth,” highlighting the efforts by Busch to help sell the town. He said it was clear that Abrol was the right partner.
“I spoke to our team, and I said, ‘I think we got the guy,’” said Santola. “He’s got a team. He’s got vision. He’s got two other restaurants.
“We’re so excited to be welcoming MexiModo, which is sort of a twist on American/Mexican cantina,” Santola added. “It is going to be a sensation here in Middlesex County.”
In addition to using locally sourced ingredients from Metuchen’s own Farmer’s Market, MexiModo will also have a chalk wall for kids, sell its own sauces to customers, and expects to have its own branded taco truck to sell tacos and ice cream, while also hiring performance artists to increase engagement during Plaza events.
“We had all kinds of ideas and concepts we went back and forth with,” said Busch. “We had in mind, sort of, what we had hoped. It turned out to be 98% exactly the same throughout the way. And that’s what you want when your businesses and governments work together. So, thanks to everyone.”
MexiModo is expected to have its soft open in early 2023 with a grand opening expected next spring.