UVU student opens Zeek’s restaurant

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Carrie Laudie | News Editor | @carrielaudie

Contributions by: Rinamay Rhoten | Staff Writer | @Rinamaylopez


Alex Ames, a UVU marketing student, and his brother Isaac Ames, a BYU student, are the new owners of the restaurant Zeek’s Pie Shack Parlour, located at 27 N. 100 W. in Provo. Zeek’s was formerly Sammy’s, a hole-in-the-wall that was a popular hangout spot known for music and good milkshakes. The Ames brothers own the Provo location along with a location in Rexburg, Idaho.

Isaac Ames Co-Owner of Zeek's Photo by Brooke Morrill | Photo Director| @brookemorrill
Isaac Ames Co-Owner of Zeek’s
Photo by Brooke Morrill | Photo Director| @brookemorrill

Both Alex and Isaac have a long history with Sam Shultz, the previous owner of Sammy’s. Alex Ames interned for Shultz and after Isaac returned home from his LDS mission, Alex helped Isaac get a job working at Sammy’s flipping burgers. Isaac rose through the ranks and eventually transferred to the Rexburg location to become a manager, he eventually became general manager and financial manager for Shultz. In the summer of 2014, allegations that Shultz wasn’t paying employees and that some of the employees in the Rexburg location hadn’t been paid in three months surfaced.

“Part of me was like, why are you still here? But they couldn’t quit because it is so hard to find jobs in Rexburg, Idaho. They were just hoping they would get paid someday,” said Isaac Ames.

Sammy’s continued to deteriorate and eventually Isaac decided he had enough and put in his two weeks’ notice.

“I told my brother I needed him to help me find another job. He asked me if I thought we could fix it and I said yeah,” said Isaac Ames.

It was at that point the brothers decided to approach Shultz about buying the business from him. They bought Sammy’s on Oct. 6, 2014 and on Jan. 1 of this year the name was officially changed to Zeek’s Pie Shack Parlour.

“It’s [Zeek] a nickname my brother had for me when we were kids. It started because we both went to the same elementary school and our gym coach was this crazy guy. I told him my name was Isaac and he’s like ‘Zeek-man, your name is now Zeek-man’, so my brother started calling me Zeek,” said Isaac Ames.

Zeek’s has grown so rapidly that both brothers have deferred this semester so that they could put all of their energy into the business.

“Education is important but it doesn’t compare to applying it to the real world,” said Alex Ames.

Photo by Brooke  Morrill |Photo Director | @brookemorrill
Photo by Brooke Morrill |Photo Director | @brookemorrill

Alex and Isaac both work in the restaurant and help train staff. They both want to make sure that their customers and employees are being taken care of, and approached the new (to them) business with a plan to make that happen.

“Step one – take care of the employees. We wanted to make sure they felt like they had job security and financial security, because they did not have that, and they did not work very hard because they weren’t getting paid, and they didn’t enjoy their job. Next step – good quality of food. We can market this place like crazy, but if we didn’t have a better quality of food, people were just going to come in and never come back. Now we’re just trying to bring people in and show them all the changes we have done. Our employees are awesome, our food is great and they should come love it too,” said Isaac Ames.

While the menu might look the same, but the food has improved.

“The recipes are the same. The only difference is that we’ve bought better quality. For example instead of buying burgers and buns from Sam’s Club and Smiths we buy patties and buns from actual food vendors,” said Isaac Ames.

Photo by Brooke Morrill | Photo Director | @brookemorrill
Photo by Brooke Morrill | Photo Director | @brookemorrill

The experience they want their costumers to have is fun, and filled with local music. Shultz loved music and wanted to make music part of the experience for Sammy’s. The Ames brothers want to keep hosting block parties and are welcoming local musicians to perform.

“We [my brother and I] are musicians and that’s what Sammy’s was about, we want to preserve that,” said Alex Ames.

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