Owners sell Akron’s NOMZ restaurant, explore travel and cuisine

NOMZ restaurant founders Kass and Sam LaVictoire hung up their Akron aprons and sold their restaurant to Northside Marketplace, with plans to travel, rediscover food, and learn new cooking skills.

Their first stop: Bali.

The newlyweds, who grew up across the street from each other in West Akron, will leave for the Indonesian island on Sunday, where they will spend two months exploring vegan restaurants and seeking culinary inspiration.

“We’re taking a risk to prioritize expanding our skills and traveling the world. The plan is to rediscover food and ourselves, so we can one day build the concept of our dreams,” said Kass LaVictoire, 26 years.

Taking over NOMZ at Northside Market, which the LaVictoires ran for more than three years, Roy Wright and his fiancée Jamie Krum of Springfield Township and Wright’s brother Bill Simoes of Shaker Heights. The sale includes the adjacent NOMZ grand cafe and bar, which the LaVictoires took over in June.

They plan to keep NOMZ’s 13 employees and continue to use original recipes from the counter-style restaurant known for its scratch cuisine and seasonal menus. Almost all of the recipes were created by Sam LaVictoire, with a few invented by Kass.

“Everything is going to stay the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Wright said at the restaurant on March 23.

Sam LaVictoire, left, former owner of NOMZ at the Northside Marketplace, assists new co-owner Bill Simoes on how to prepare NOMZ signature sandwiches and other dishes March 23 in Akron.

Key to the transition will be the help of staff member Gabe LaVictoire, Sam’s 26-year-old brother and former right-hand man.

Throughout March, the LaVictoires trained the new owners, who officially took over on March 28. The training included kitchen work as well as the restaurant’s grocery list, calling customers and meeting vendors.

Sam LaVictoire was working with Simoes on March 23 on making an avocado black bean sandwich as Kass and Krum swapped making vegan bacon, brushing the rice paper with a homemade marinade before baking it in the oven . The result creates the texture and “a bit of the bacon taste” of traditional bacon, Kass said.

Kass, 26, and Sam, 29, said they were in no rush on their culinary journey. After Bali, they plan to return to the United States and spend about two months each in different places in the South and Southwest to start, including Charleston SC, New Orleans, Atlanta and cities in Texas. .

Kass LaVictoire, left, former owner of NOMZ on the Northside Marketplace, tells new co-owner Jamie Krum how to make a NOMZ dish March 23 in Akron.

At first, Sam didn’t want to sell. The couple had expressed an interest in moving NOMZ, which had expanded twice in Northside Market, to the Bowery project on Main Street.

But then they thought about the investment needed to start a new brick and mortar business and realized they didn’t have the skills they wanted with different kitchens and different styles of kitchens.

“We were quite young when we started with NOMZ,” Sam said. “There are a lot of life experiences that we’re still looking forward to.”

During their honeymoon in Greece in September, the couple realized they had to decide whether to expand their business or let it go when it was doing well. NOMZ made its biggest deal yet in 2021 – $500,000 in sales.

“We really enjoyed traveling and eating in Greece, so we wanted to be able to offer more to Akron in the future,” Kass said.

Now they will explore more travel and more food, said Sam, who previously worked as a line cook at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafe. He has always worked in kitchens, aspiring to be a chef since he was a child.

The couple’s trip will be open, but their end goal is to return to Akron and open another restaurant.

“Maybe in two or three years we’ll be back in Akron,” Sam said.

Sam LaVictoire, former owner of NOMZ at the Northside Marketplace, prepares a signature sandwich, the Avocado Black Bean Sandwich, as he helps train the restaurant's new owners March 23 in Akron.

He looks forward to experimenting with southern cuisine, including Creole cuisine, after returning from Bali.

“Working with seafood is something I would love to try,” Sam said.

“I’ve always been kind of like an entrepreneur mindset, so I’ve always been the push for Sam,” Kass said.

The LaVictoires also have the seasonal Treatery at the Northside Marketplace, which has ice cream rolls and dessert tacos, on sale.

To follow the couple’s culinary journey, check out their junipertravelz blog on Instagram or TikTok.

The new owners of NOMZ said the ambiance of the Akron restaurant and bar as well as the timing of the purchase were the right ones.

“Bill and I had been looking for businesses to buy in the Akron area for a while now. We really couldn’t find anything that caught our eye until we saw this, and when we walked in, we knew that was a good choice,” Wright said.

The brothers and Krum, who first visited NOMZ in February as customers to try the food, said they loved everything about the restaurant. They particularly liked the beer-marinated Citra Dog sandwich for its tender meat and variety of tacos.

“We thought the food was really good. The bar is awesome, that view here. The location is amazing,” Krum said of the wall of windows behind the bar overlooking the Cascade Valley below.

Krum said the way Sam combines ingredients in his recipes is “almost like a science. He balances the sweet and the salty and he’s so good at it.”

The three said they weren’t going to change the NOMZ recipes or sauces Sam created from scratch. They will also continue to change the restaurant’s menu every season.

The new owners also appreciate that NOMZ has a loyal vegan following. Vegan items make up 30% of the menu and 50% of total sales.

Wright and Simoes run their agency Marketing Bros. remotely, Wright having a background in marketing and Simoes in business management. At NOMZ, Simoes, 25, will be in charge of the kitchen while Wright, 31, will focus on partnership building, website and marketing.

Krum, 32, who has an administrative assistant background, will lead the administrative side of NOMZ.

The black bean sandwich with avocado and turkey at NOMZ.

The hours will remain the same, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Friday to Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. See namezeatz.com for more information.

Simoes and the others said they appreciate having a meticulous track record to follow in running the business. All restaurant processes have been documented and laminated by Kass, including recipes, cooking times, temperatures, and how to slice things.

“It was basically like a playbook to follow,” Simoes said.

“It helps us not have a restaurant background so we can come in and pick things up where they left off,” said Wright, who received a detailed checklist from Kass to get the business back on the day of. their meeting.

Art and restoration writer Kerry Clawson can be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected]

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