NOMZ founders pass torch at Akron restaurant to explore food, starting in Bali

Susan S. Johnson

New NOMZ owner Roy Wright, from left, with co-owners Jamie Krum and Bill Simoes, who will both be working in the kitchen, and former owners Sam and Kass LaVictoire. The LaVictoires will soon embark on some world travel.

NOMZ eatery founders Kass and Sam LaVictoire have hung up their Akron aprons and sold their eatery at Northside Marketplace, with a plan to travel, rediscover food and gain new skills in the kitchen.

Their first stop: Bali.

The newlyweds, who grew up down the street from each other in West Akron, left Sunday for the Indonesian island, where they’ll spend two months exploring vegan restaurants and looking for culinary inspiration.

“We’re taking a risk to prioritize expanding our skills and travel the world. The plan is to rediscover food and ourselves, to be able to build the concept of our dreams someday,” said Kass LaVictoire, 26.

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

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

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

Former owner Sam LaVictoire, left, assists new co-owner Bill Simoes in preparing NOMZ signature sandwiches and other dishes March 23 at the Northside Marketplace restaurant in Akron.

Former owner Sam LaVictoire, left, assists new co-owner Bill Simoes in preparing NOMZ signature sandwiches and other dishes March 23 at the Northside Marketplace restaurant in Akron.

Key to the transition will be help from staffer 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 March 28. The training included kitchen work as well as doing the restaurant grocery list, ringing up customers and meeting vendors.

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

NOMZ former owners plan culinary journey before return to Akron

Kass, 26, and Sam, 29, said they’re 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 locales in the South and Southwest to start, including Charleston South Carolina, New Orleans, Atlanta and cities in Texas.

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

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

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

But then they thought about the investment required to get a new brick-and-mortar business off the ground and realized they didn’t have the skills they wanted with different cuisines and different styles of kitchens.

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

During their honeymoon in Greece in September, the couple realized they had to decide either to expand their business or let it go while it was doing well. NOMZ did its biggest business yet in 2021 — $500,000 in sales.

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

Now, they’ll explore more travel and more foods, said Sam, who formerly worked as a line cook at Mustard Seed Market and Cafe. He’s always worked in kitchens, having aspired to be a chef since he was a kid.

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

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

Sam LaVictoire, former owner of NOMZ, prepares a signature avocado black bean sandwich as he helps train the eatery's new owners.

Sam LaVictoire, former owner of NOMZ, prepares a signature avocado black bean sandwich as he helps train the eatery’s new owners.

He’s looking forward to experimenting with Southern food, including Creole cooking, after returning from Bali.

“Working with seafood is something that I would enjoy trying,” Sam said.

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

The LaVictoires also have the seasonal Treatery at Northside Marketplace, which features rolled ice cream and dessert tacos, up for sale.

To keep up with the couple’s food journey, see their blog junipertravelz on Instagram or TikTok.

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Timing, vibe right to buy NOMZ eatery

The new NOMZ owners said the vibe of the Akron eatery and bar as well as the timing to buy were right.

“Bill and I had been looking for businesses to purchase in the Akron area for a while now. We didn’t really find anything that caught our eye till we saw this, and when we came in, we knew it was a good fit,” Wright said.

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

“We thought the food was really good. The bar is awesome, this view here. The location is incredible,” 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 out the sweet and savory, and he’s so good at that.”

The three said they’re not going to change the NOMZ recipes or sauces created from scratch by Sam. They’ll also keep switching out the restaurant’s menu each 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 Marketing Bros. Agency remotely, with Wright having a background in marketing and Simoes in business management. At NOMZ, Simoes, 25, will be kitchen manager while Wright, 31, will focus on building partnerships, the website and marketing.

Krum, 32, who has a background as an administrative assistant, will run the administrative side of NOMZ.

The avocado black bean sandwich with turkey at NOMZ.

The avocado black bean sandwich with turkey at NOMZ.

Hours will remain the same, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. See nomzeatz.com for more information.

Simoes and the others said they appreciate having a meticulous road map to follow to run the business. All of the restaurant’s processes have been documented and laminated by Kass, including recipes, cook times, temperatures and how to slice things.

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

“That helps with us not having restaurant experience to be able to come in and pick up things where they left off,” said Wright, who received a detailed checklist from Kass for turning over the business the day they met.

Arts and restaurant writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Owners sell Akron’s NOMZ eatery, take off to explore travel, cuisine

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