Longtime Word of Mouth employees Nicole Murphy, left, and Mychal Arredondo bought the restaurant in April and are planning a May reopening. (Courtesy/Word of Mouth)

When Mychal Arredondo started work as a host at Salem’s Word of Mouth, he wasn’t expecting to meet his fiancée.

But in the years after, he became a waiter, bartender and cook - and started dating Nicole Murphy, 38, the manager who originally hired him in 2015.

The couple are the new owners of the iconic Salem brunch restaurant, which they bought from Becky and Steve Mucha earlier this month.

Arredondo, 29, said they’re aiming for a mid-May reopening and want to preserve the menu and atmosphere that made the restaurant a beloved staple in the local dining scene.

“Working there was something really special, working for Steve and Becky and such a tight-knit group of people,” Arredondo said. “We got to really know each other and become like family.”

Located in a green house at 140 17th St. N.E., Word of Mouth opened in 2008 and quickly became known for its generously portioned dishes and favorites like crème brûlée French toast, and Plate O’ Love, which included French toast and corned beef or veggie hash.

Arredondo said Becky Mucha trained him in the kitchen after Steve began having health problems. He learned to make the restaurant’s pancakes, French toast, sandwiches and potatoes.

“They have always had a very specific way of preparing their food and really putting a lot of passion into it and I think that’s something really important,” he said.

The restaurant was mostly closed for dining in during the pandemic, but reopened briefly in late 2021 before closing again in February. The closure was initially announced as temporary, then permanent once the Muchas announced their retirement in early April.

Arredondo said he and Murphy are eager to continue their legacy.

“Taking care of our customers, really making sure that we’re providing the best possible service and best possible experience when you come through there,” he said. “That’s something that really spoke to me when I was a customer.”

That atmosphere extends to the staff, he said.

“Everyone’s not stressed out. You can be laid back and enjoy great food and I think that’s part of the magic,” he said.

Murphy will run the front of house while Arredondo handles the back, he said. 

The restaurant announced the new owners on its Facebook page April 19, drawing thousands of reactions and over 1,000 comments from diners eager to return.

Arredondo said they’ll announce a reopening date on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“Pretty much everything across the board is staying as close to original as possible,” Arredondo said. “A lot of people are really excited for it to be back.”

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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