Community mourns restaurateur Denny Mogan

Denny Mogan, who spent his career in the local hospitality industry and launched a highly successful restaurant in Downtown Salisbury, died Friday, Jan. 8, following a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Tributes to Mogan, 40, began appearing on Facebook soon after people learned of his death.

“Denny Mogan’s journey has taken him from us, but his name will be forever etched in the annals of Salisbury history as someone who played a critical role in restoring our beloved Downtown to its former glory,” the city of Salisbury said in a post. “The massive overnight success of his restaurant is a testament to the care he put into his work, and the only thing as big as his heart was his infectious smile. We already miss you, Denny.”

City Administrator Julia Glanz posted: “I wish I had gotten to know Denny better, but I do know that his brother, Brad, and the rest of his family will make sure his legacy lives on.

Mogan opened Mogan’s Oyster House in 2019 and its seafood-based menu quickly gained faithful customers who allowed the eatery to stay in business and even expand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The restaurant was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Mogan who had worked his way up through the business since he was 18 at several area restaurants, including Harborside in West Ocean City and Market Street Inn and Evolution Craft Brewing, both in Salisbury.

In a 2019 interview, Mogan said previous attempts to start his own business never got off the ground, so he eventually teamed up with developers Bret and Kirk Davis to put a new eatery inside One Plaza East, the building the Davis brothers own at the corner of Main and Division streets.

The restaurant has since expanded into the former DiCarlo’s Printing space and added sidewalk seating along Division Street

After Mogan was diagnosed with ALS last year, some of his long-time friends in the restaurant business stepped up to hold fund-raisers for him at Brew River, Burley Oak and Market Street Inn, with the proceeds going to a scholarship fund for his two young sons, Michael, 9, and Jack, 6.

Mogan graduated from James M. Bennett High School and Salisbury University. He was an enthusiastic supporter of youth sports programs including soccer and lacrosse.

In addition to his sons, Mogan is survived by his wife, Kateryna , his parents Dennis and Virginia Mogan, brother Bradley Mogan and sister Carrie Fore.

A private funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday at Wicomico Presbyterian Church where Mogan was a trustee and elder.

Contributions may be made in his memory to the ALS Association.

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