Before he hands over the keys in early December, Alex Victoria is writing a recipe book for the new owners of Amore Victoria.
Jenna Victoria said she and Alex had been casually talking about selling the restaurant for a while. As they raise their kids (ages 6, 7 and 9), they are becoming more strapped for time — Alex remembers emptying the restaurant late on a Saturday night so Jenna could deliver a baby.
“We haven’t had a Valentine’s Day off in 10 years,” Jenna said.
The couple will continue owning Nico’s on Hennepin, saying the business there is more manageable because it’s simply 40 seats, tacos and tequila.
Incoming co-owner Doug McNicoll said he isn’t planning a wholesale change to the Amore menu, though he expects the restaurant to evolve over time.
“If anything happens, it will be after Valentine’s Day,” he said.
“He’s still going to evolve, because evolution is part of success,” Alex said.
McNicoll is a real estate agent — he said he handled the Lexington Restaurant deal in St. Paul — and he has experience operating Italian restaurants including Ciao Mambo in Whitefish, Mont. and Mambo Italiano in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He co-founded Glacier Restaurant Group, which acquired those and other Montana restaurants.
Though he’s done franchising in the past, McNicoll said he does not plan to franchise the Amore Victoria concept. He said he’s been searching for a neighborhood restaurant to purchase, and he’s excited to get back into the restaurant business.
Ownership partner Basir Tareen is a customer at Amore Victoria, and lives a couple blocks from the restaurant, McNicoll said.
The new owners plan to retain the restaurant’s existing staff.
The Victorias said they believe the restaurant is in good hands and will continue as a neighborhood-focused venue.
“Restaurant life is like dog life — at 10 years, you’ve overcome everything,” Alex said. “It starts to become concrete, a fixture in the neighborhood, like an old Oak.”