Customers can grab a taste of clam chowder while Mo’s builds out a new restaurant in Astoria.
The company has opened a chowder truck on the weekends in front of its new location off the Columbia River at the foot of 15th Street, expected to open in the summer.
Bob Scull, a regional manager for Mo’s, said the cart is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with expanding hours as the weather improves.
“This is the biggest project we’ve taken on,” Scull said of the 12,000-square-foot location, split between a 160-seat restaurant and a new chowder production kitchen.
About 50 workers under general contractor Randy Stemper have torn back 8,000 square feet of the Englund Marine & Industrial Supply Building — the former home of Vintage Hardware — making way for more parking and landscaping. Inside, workers are busy installing utilities in the mostly framed interior. Wooden window frames surround a kitchen area that will provide visitors a view of the large chowder kettles and the entire cooking process.
The company’s chowder factory in Newport produces more than 500,000 pounds a year, supplying grocery stores and the restaurant’s seven other locations along the Oregon Coast and at Portland International Airport. The company’s last coastal expansion was 1991 in Cannon Beach. Scull said the company has been looking for several years at Astoria.
“We’re a family-owned business, so it’s more about the right opportunity … than about opening up locations,” he said.
With the Columbia River location, he said, Mo’s saw an opportunity to open a restaurant on the scale of its other locations, while expanding its chowder-producing capacity to meet a growing demand. Scull said Mo’s will likely employ 60 to 80 people year-round in Astoria.