Brian Mogren, the soft-spoken tall chef who works behind the counter at The Cutting Board restaurant in Morristown, has a new title.
In addition to being a professionally trained Italian chef, a self-taught French chef and a self-taught baker, Mogren is now a restaurant owner. He recently purchased the successful business from John and Donna Murgolo, who opened the eatery in the former Red Food Store shopping center in 2008 as Uncle Frank’s Hot Dogs.
Mogren’s 15 years of experience in the food industry have been evident during his tenure at the restaurant. His homemade breads became so popular, he began selling whole loaves.
A current special, a Muffaletta on fresh-baked herbed bread, is not listed on the menu, but sells out whenever he lists it on the large blackboard in the front of the restaurant. The large sandwich, which is served by the slice, was featured on a Knoxville television news segment.
A native to Iowa, Mogren’s arrival in Morristown began with a climb to Mt. LaConte while hiking the Appalachian Trail. He met his wife, Laura Jo, who was born and raised in Morristown, at the top of the mountain and they hit it off well enough to hike and travel together for a while.
“Now that we’re settled down, we’re ready to stay in Morristown,” Mogren said. The offer to sell from Murgolo further encouraged the couple to remain here — “This was way to good to pass up,” Mogren said.
The new owner will make changes to the menu. Eventually Mogren will offer three seasonal menus throughout the year. Fresh local produce, some from his own garden, will dictate the choices. The menus will feature more fresh breads and the restaurant hours will change in the future. He would prefer to close Sunday and Monday and offer more dining hours Friday and Saturday.
The one thing Mogren won’t change is the “all-in” for the Taste of Morristown.
He’ll put together a big unveiling for the community at the restaurant to highlight new menu items around the time of the Girls Inc. fundraiser scheduled for April 11.
The restaurant will then again be closed the day of the event, due to all the time and effort that the staff will put into preparations for the foodie fest to be held on the Morristown campus of Walters State Community College.
In 2012, the restaurant staff used 60 loaves of Brian’s bread for the bruschetta samples — “That was four days of solid baking,” he said. There are plans to include French pot roast as samples in this year’s fundraiser that serves as a friendly competition for local restaurateurs.
Until then, the full Cutting Board menu is available to customers, with a few tweaks here and there, Monday-Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Take-out orders are available by calling 423-318-7780.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer