MADISON, NJ—Thomas Donohoe knows a few things about the restaurant business. The Morristown native has worked at virtually all types of eateries, and if you name a job at a restaurant, he’s done it.
“I started working at Rod’s Steakhouse the Madison Hotel when I was 12,” Donohoe said, “I worked in restaurants throughout college, and the moved out to Montana to be a head chef out there.”
Donohoe worked under several prominent chefs across the country before moving back to New Jersey in 2009. That’s when he started to look for a restaurant of his own.
“I found Shanghai Jazz as a customer,” he said, “the food was good, the music was good. I have no musical talent, but I care about food and hospitality, and I liked to go there to sit there and listen to music and eat.”
In June 2017, he decided to buy the Main Street restaurant, and he set the menu to compliment his style, calling it a fusion of Chinese, American, and other Asian tastes. Business was strong, and there was live music several nights per week.
But if anyone knew the challenges of running a restaurant, it was Donohoe. Perhaps his toughest hurdle has been owning Shanghai Jazz during a global pandemic which closed every dining room in the state earlier this year.
“The weekend leading up to the shutdown,” he said, “I had just over 300 reservations for the