9 questions with Ashley Fockler

Founded in 2005, the popular North Canton eatery BAM! Healthy Cuisine is a success story that still surprises its owners, Ashley Fockler and Michael Roberts.

Founded in 2005, the popular North Canton eatery BAM! Healthy Cuisine is a success story that still surprises its owners, Ashley Fockler and Michael Roberts.

“It was something we started on a whim. We had no idea what we were doing,” Fockler said. The first location of BAM, at 1310 N. Main Street, was a former pizza shop, “very small, with no heat, no air conditioning and no room for seating.”

But the duo—a married couple, incidentally—smartly saw a niche that needed to be filled. “There was nothing healthy around,” she said. “You’d work so hard to feel good, but then there was nowhere to go after you worked out.”

In May 2013, BAM! relocated to its much brighter and more spacious current location at Washington Square.

By May 2016, there should be a second BAM! in The Marketplace at Nobles Pond in Jackson Township. “Right next to Buehler’s. We’re pretty excited,” Fockler said.

1. A lot of people in BAM! are still in their workout gear, but there’s quite a bit of diversity to your clientele, right?
“We have probably one of the most diverse range of customers, from young kids to older people and everyone in between. It’s really neat to see everyone wanting to eat healthy, not just one age group or another. We have regulars from day one when we started the place who are still with us. There are people who come here once or twice a day, every day. When we first opened at this location, I couldn’t believe the amount of older folks that started coming in. But it’s hard to cook for one or two people. Here, they can get something similar to what they’d make at home, you don’t have to tip a waitress, you can seat yourself, do what you need to do.”

2. BAM! seems like an oasis for people with specific dietary restrictions. How do you cater to their needs?
“One thing we take pride in as a restaurant is being able to customize orders as much as people want or need, whether they are vegan or have really specific dietary restrictions, so they can enjoy a meal out. We start with things that are fresh from the earth, so if you just want a bowl of sauteed vegetables and a protein, we can do that. You don’t have to get any sauces or dressings.”

3. What are some of your latest menu items?
“Our mango pomegranate salad has organic quinoa in it, and it’s really nice and fresh and summery. We just started making an organic four-bean salad that’s in our grab-and-go cooler. We’re always trying new things, trying to keep people happy. We’re getting into being able to use a lot more local farmers and produce. The lettuce is Ohio-grown, and we cut everything by hand. Nothing is from a bag. We make our own tortillas that we use in all of our wraps. There’s nothing artificial about them, no preservatives.”

4. The new BAM! is such an upgrade from the original. Does it feel like a different world?
“I used to prepare everything, 14-hour days in the kitchen and ringing people up. Now we’ve developed a wonderful team of people. We never wanted to be a little mom-and-pop place. Our dream is many more restaurants.”

Favorites on the BAM! menu

Shrimp O’Licious four-slice whole wheat pizza with shrimp, provolone, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta, walnuts, $6.55

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Baja grilled wrap with black-bean purée, house-made salsa, brown rice, cheddar, banana peppers, leaf lettuce, hot and spicy ranch, housemade whole-wheat tortilla and choice of chicken, lean ground beef or tofu, $7.99

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Cranberry almond chicken salad sandwich on grilled nine-grain bread with leaf lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes, $6.50

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Hot and spicy pecan salad with crumbled bleu cheese, pecans, celery, garbanzo beans, choice of hot and spicy chicken or tofu, balsamic vinaigrette, $7.75 half/$10.75 full

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Wild salmon bowl with grilled salmon, sauteed red and green peppers, broccoli, green beans, squash, mushrooms, red onions tossed in a light dressing and served over steamed brown rice or roasted red skin potatoes, topped with fresh shredded parmesan, $13.95

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass