Housed in the original Johnny Rockets on Melrose Ave, you’ll find nomoo | New American Burgers, the latest plant-based burger joint to hit Los Angeles. Retaining a nostalgic American diner element, as you enter you’re transported to a bygone era complete with eye-catching neon signs, vibrant interior colors and the unmistakable smell of classic deliciousness. Wrapped in the vintage aesthetic is a menu specially curated from passion and patience.
Having been open only for a year, nomoo is the brainchild of owner George Montagu Brown. Brown was an unlikely burger joint owner. He originally ran a successful internet business in Costa Rica, which while very lucrative, failed to fill him with a sense of purpose. In thinking back on his previous business, he says, “One of the things I learned from early financial success was that money isn’t everything. The reward comes not from the profit numbers but seeing a team I built grow and work together, from guest interactions and when people love the food we created.”
As a vegan, Brown had a strong connection to the plight of farm animals. His dream had always been to raise awareness about the harrowing conditions of factory farming. Believing vegan food can (and does) change people’s perspective, he initially considered pursuing the avenue of education as a way to raise awareness. The burning question he longed to answer was, “Do we need animal products in fast food at all?”
Ultimately deciding that experience, rather than education, was a better pathway forward, prompting Brown to create nomoo. To fulfill this mission, his idea was to offer the experience of “combining a restaurant with an ‘all day party’ vibe with plant-based products.” Brown set his mind to pursuing what he felt deeply to be his purpose and took a leap of faith. Knowing that success requires sacrifice, he shuttered his online business and invested his own money to make his dreams a reality.
Pursuing his dream had its challenges. Without investors, he chose to move from Costa Rica, hoping to launch nomoo in Los Angeles. To further complicate the transition, he opened right before last year’s pandemic hit, forcing him to close the doors only seven days following. When nomoo finally reopened in June, it faced supply delays. Vegan products were often unavailable. Despite the setbacks, Brown managed to push through and now shares his vision with hungry Angelenos looking for post-pandemic grub.
Prepped entirely by hand, considerable emphasis is placed on quality. The nomoo burger is the house staple. Ingredients consist of the Impossible patty complimented by an in-house nomoo sauce, American cheeze, house pickles, and a tomato resting atop a bed of butter lettuce that’s secured by a freshly made brioche bun. Additional menu items include plant-based takes on American diner classics like The Hot Chik’in sandwich, handspun gourmet shakes, fries and an assortment of tasty sauces. I had the opportunity to try their most recent offering, the BBQ Facon Burger, and I can say it too delivers on all mouthwatering fronts. Additionally, the food is made fresh daily and 10% of proceeds are donated to Mercy For Animals.
Fueled by purpose, Brown can often be found at nomoo | New American Burgers on Melrose Ave. working “twice as hard for much less pay.”