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Love and Entrepreneurship: The Story of Om’s New Owner (video)



Love and Entrepreneurship: The Story of Om’s New Owner (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 9, 2014)

Sometimes life just works out splendidly, and as one chapter of the Om Café’s story comes tonicholas-schrock-allstate a close, a fairy tale-like story is unfolding for the new owner Jessica Norwood.

Anyone who knows Om Café already knows Norwood as the cheerful and talented waitress/manager who has been serving up vegetarian and vegan dishes for the past three years at the quaint little restaurant at 23136 Woodward Avenue. But now Norwood’s life has changed in a couple of ways.

First off, she fell in love.

“We first met here at the café,” Norwood said. “Matthew came in one day, he was applying for a job. He sat at the front and ate one of our macro plates. I thought he was super seed04_gallowaycute at the time. I think for me it was kind of one of those love at first sight moments. And then eventually he started working here and things just kind of snowballed after that.”

That moment led to many good ones as Matthew Helsel flourished in the kitchen, becoming Om’s main chef. Their mutual love of healthy, wholesome food and the close quarters were the perfect recipe for love.

They decided they wanted to spread their wings together, right at a time when the previous Om Café owner was spreading his as well.

Jason Thibodeau’s mother founded Om Café nearly 30 years ago. He took over and also created a second Om Café in Traverse City. The up north location met with resounding success and Thibodeau wanted to live there and focus on that business full time

So he put Om Café in Ferndale up for sale.royal_services

Norwood and Helsel were ready to move on, and start a business of their own.  Om was not originally in their sights. But a longtime customer approached Norwood about a partnership, and she gladly accepted the opportunity. “It feels amazing, this is hands-down one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” she said about the purchase.

“[I’ve] worked here three years, but I’ve been eating here my whole life so I’m very familiar with even the past servers, things like that, the menu,”  she said.  “A lot of times the Om has gone through some changing of hours. The old owner may have closed for the winter, things like that. So a lot of our old clientele does not know that we are still here and we’re still happy to be here, and happy to serve.”

“It’s been a 30 Judy_Palmer30yearsyear staple for vegetarian food in Ferndale so it’s pretty big to us and the community,” Helsel said.

The official grand re-opening in Monday, Nov. 10. From there they will be open Monday and Wednsday through Saturday from noon to 9pm. Brunch options will be added further down the road.

Norwood’s favorites will still be available, including the Mexican Plate and Nori Rolls with House-made Tahini Dressing. There will also be changing specials, including different types of tacos. Helsel gets to keep his favorites too, like the classic Brussels Dish and the Macro Plate which is a healthy dish with simple flavors – steamed kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, and carrot, organic adzuki beans, brown rice, arame, and a side of tahini onion gravy.
Find out more about Om Ferndale at

Check out our Food Blog Section at

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NOTE: This story has been updated from a previous version to reflect the correct name of the “Macro Plate.”


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