It's all about mixing things at Mélange, opening Sept. 27 in downtown Canton

It's all about mixing things at Mélange, opening Sept. 27 in downtown Canton

Walking into Mélange restaurant in downtown Canton feels like you’re being transported to a big city. The wallpaper-adorned walls and red velvet booths give a feel of luxury without being too stuffy. 

The restaurant, which is located in the space Napoli’s used to occupy at 221 Market Ave. N, is set to open Sept. 27. Prior to opening, Mélange plans an invitation-only VIP event on Sept. 21 for friends and family. Owner Nick Pamboukis is excited to open this destination restaurant, as he calls it.

“Let’s face it, you have to be a destination for folks to travel outside of what they’re comfortable going to, especially Jackson Township and all the restaurants there, all the choices. We have to be different. …,” the 43-year-old Pamboukis said. “Between the food and the atmosphere that we’re going to have, I think that will do it.”

With more than 900 reservations made within two days of opening its book through its website, it seems as though Pamboukis is onto something. 

Reservations are highly encouraged, but Pamboukis said they won’t turn anyone away, noting that the bar won’t have reservations but will be open for diners and for people to imbibe while they wait for a table.

He also mentioned that the lit-up bar at the front of the restaurant will be great for First Fridays and guests who want to utilize DORA.

“For First Fridays, we’ll open that door, and we’ll be able to serve folks just walking by,” Pamboukis said.

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The meaning behind the name Mélange

The definition of mélange is a mixture or medley, and Pamboukis said it fits the restaurant perfectly, noting a few reasons why.

“We’re taking fine dining and we’re taking a club atmosphere in the back, and we’re mixing those together. You really don’t have anything like that in the area that brings a fine-dining feel with an upscale mature club atmosphere for folks to enjoy themselves and dance,” Pamboukis said. 

Unlike Pamboukis’ other restaurant, Alexander Pierce in Akron, which has a fine-dining, steakhouse, Sinatra vibe, Mélange will have “more of a Miami, Vegas laid-back (vibe), upscale but music, things like that” as to not compete with the Akron restaurant.

Pamboukis credits Mélange and Alexander Pierce head chef Frank Hill for coming up with the name.

“Chef Frank (Hill) actually coined that. We were talking about names, and he’s like, ‘Mélange,’ and I’m like, ‘Really?’ so we looked it up and I was like, ‘That’s so fitting. It’s perfect.’”

The decor in the restaurant also feels like a mix. The red seating throughout complements the blue-toned wallpaper. And the brightly colored flower light setup at the front of the restaurant and carried throughout the hallway, which is a nod to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, gives a fun feel opposite the swanky bar and booths. 

It’s a good mix that pairs well, and is perfect for the laidback feel Pamboukis seeks.

The menu is another key to the mix at Mélange. Pamboukis took menu testing very seriously for the restaurant and settled on steaks, seafood, and “you’ll even have Korean corndogs,” Pamboukis said.

While on a trip with his wife to Vegas, he tried his first Korean corndog, “and it’s unlike any corndog you’ve ever had in your life, and I’m like, ‘You know what? Let’s put it on (the menu).”

The Korean corndogs Mélange will serve are made with an-all beef wagyu dog topped with a “real thin coating, and then you panko the heck out of it, so it’s like a crunch almost instead of that pancake style. Then we make gochujang ketchup, which is a ketchup with a little bit of a bite, and then a honey mustard on there,” said Pamboukis. “It’s killer. It's absolutely amazing.”

“You go from lobster claws to corndogs; there’s your mixture, the reason for the name.”

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The fun continues in the Encore Lounge

At the back of the restaurant is the Encore Lounge, which used to be a banquet room when Napoli’s occupied the building. As Mélange isn’t set up for banquets or large parties, the space will be used for dancing and drinking for diners.

“When you go out to dinner − have a nice dinner − you end up wanting to continue the night, you want to go somewhere, you want an encore, so the reason for the Encore Lounge is exactly that,” Pamboukis said. “After you’re done having a great dinner, go back and dance, go back and enjoy yourself.”

Pamboukis said the lounge is only open to diners, assuring it will be a classy, mature space where people won’t need to worry about being hit on or anything of that sort. Members of the Coat Room Lounge, a private members-only bourbon, champagne and cigar lounge located in Akron, also will have access to the Encore Lounge.

The lounge will open when the restaurant opens and will stay open after dining cuts off. Pamboukis anticipates guests will be in the lounge more in the later hours, especially on the weekends.

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Where to park when dining at Mélange

Mélange offers free valet parking for diners, with the space in front of the restaurant open for loading and unloading.

“The city is doing us a favor. They’re removing all the parking meters out front. They’re making the whole front of our restaurant loading and unloading only, so that when our valets set up, they don’t have to worry about maneuvering around cars,” Pamboukis said. 

He noted that cars will be parked in The Onesto parking garage behind the restaurant and the city’s public parking garage behind the Plakas Mannos law firm building.

Diners also can park along nearby streets, if they don’t want to use the valet.

Private events available at Mélange

Although Mélange is limited on space, Pamboukis said there are some options for renting private space for parties.

The patio, which can be opened or closed, at the front of the restaurant can be reserved for up to 20 people. The upper dining area, which is a bit secluded from the rest of the restaurant, can seat up to 18 people comfortably. The Encore Lounge as a whole can be reserved for a private event, as well.

“The final option is like Richard Seymour (who was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year) did and just took the whole place (for a private event during the Enshrinment Festival),” Pamboukis said.

Reservations for Mélange can be made at