Guelph ON- The Crafty Ramen is one of the Guelph community’s favorite local restaurants in Downtown Guelph. In their fourth year of operations, Emma Mitro spoke to Jarred Ferrall, co-founder and business partner of The Crafty Ramen, about their business and the introduction of their take-home ramen kits in response to the effects of COVID-19. The community and one School teacher’s response, in particular, had been tremendous and had quite the impact on the community, Japanese food culture, and ramen.
A little bit of Background:
“My business partner Micky and I got together in Vancouver many years ago, moved to Japan together, and that’s when I fell in love with ramen. I was working in Japan, mostly at high-end fine dining restaurants. On my days off, I would go out exploring different ramen shops around the area. It’s such an interesting and versatile cuisine. Ramen is affordable and has many different styles. You can enjoy and eat on your own, which as a busy chef, made sense for me to go and try it in different places.”
“Mickey and I ended up working together on a private yacht, and we traveled all over the world. So, wherever we would go, we would always search out different little ramen shops to try. Once we decided it was time to settle down, Guelph was a natural choice because that’s where my family is. Hence, we settled in Guelph, and we knew that we had to do something in the food industry because of our backgrounds. It was a natural choice, in a college town, so we decided to open a ramen shop.”
“From the day we opened, we had a lineup around the door. Our original business plan included Mickey, me, and a dishwasher. We would be open five days a week, selling 100 bowls a day, and that was enough for us. However, that was not the case, and very quickly, that changed. We had hired ten people and doing 200+ bowls a day.”
The Infamous Ramen kits:
“We had opened Crafty 2 in Kitchener, but then four months after opening, the pandemic hit. We hatched a plan for the ‘take-home kits.’ So, we launched our ramen kits, and it was a huge success. The ramen kits made us innovate quickly. Traditionally ramen has to be made fresh, and that’s what we loved about it. In Japan, you get a fresh, steaming hot bowl of ramen. Instant ramen or takeout is not a great option for ramen because it doesn’t travel well; we never wanted to do takeout at the original store. So, we decided to make a kit so that people could eat fresh ramen at home!”
“We put all the pieces together so that customers can understand the process and the elements in making delicious ramen. We divided the kit into components with instructions to get the same restaurant ramen experience at home, which was not available before.”
“I think people love it and love cooking at home. But one of the toughest things is having all the necessary ingredients to cook or having to buy them to cook one dinner at home. That why I think kits and meal prepping subscriptions and boxes are becoming so popular. It takes days to make a bowl of ramen but minutes to put it together. The components that go into a bowl take multiple hours to produce and require a multitude of ingredients- so that was part of our motivation as well.”
Mallory Tolcher teaches high school students with special needs in a program called the School Community Work Transitions Program or also known as “Transitions,” “Life Skills,” or “Developmentally Delayed.” She works with a small group of students, helping them develop different life skills. We asked her why she decided to incorporate The Crafty Ramen into her Program:
“During a regular school year, we would be able to go out into our community and do things like visit a restaurant, practice ordering from a menu, use the public transit system or visit a laundromat. However, with COVID-19 and the new school restrictions, we aren’t allowed to leave our classroom unless we walked around the school property. I had felt a huge responsibility when the pandemic started to support locals, and I thought, “Why not tailor my program to that?” I want to teach them the value of supporting local so that they can contribute to their community for a lifetime.”
Why The Crafty Ramen?
Crafty Ramen was at the top of my list for restaurants. I wanted to explore this in our classroom as I have been a customer since they’ve opened their doors. They are honestly the best! I also couldn’t be prouder of them for pivoting their business and developing the DIY kits. These worked perfectly in the classroom because it allowed my students to practice following directions and prepare an individual meal in the classroom kitchen. It was also their first time they ever tried ramen – and they LOVED it! Not only did we make the ramen, but Crafty Ramen donated gyoza filling and wrappers and my students learned how to make their dumplings. My students followed an instructional video that Crafty Ramen put together and we used Playdo first until they felt confident to do the real thing.”
What was the feedback from your classroom, school, or community after this activity?
The students loved the challenge and ended up loving the ramen! They were e all really inspired by Crafty Ramen’s generosity. We decided to brainstorm different ways we could help support locals without spending money. I was so proud of the list they came up with, and we will put it in action throughout the year using different local restaurants. Since Crafty Ramen and I have posted about it, I have received great comments from the Guelph and surrounding community. So much, so that other restaurants have reached out to work with my class! I am blown away by how thoughtful and generous these restaurants have been, and it really shows the power of community, especially in this challenging time.”
What else do you hope to bring to students in the future in terms of supporting locals?
As an educator, my goal is to start ditching the generic resources I have in the classroom and focusing on building ones that highlight my local community. I want these students to feel confident and excited about where they live and where they shop. I am hoping that once restrictions are relaxed, we can do more by going out and actually visiting these spaces.
Jared’s Favorite Ramen Recommendations:
Two of the most popular, and the ones I love most, are the Chicken Tantan and the northern warmer. I rotate the menu frequently with quality checks and look for new ways to improve. Both these are original bowls and have definitely gone through some improvements since they have been on the menu, but are my core favorites.”
Big thanks to Mallory and her students for supporting locals and The Crafty Ramen to provide their community with delicious ways to stay warm.
To support locals with their tasty and easy take-home kits. Please order
Order your DIY Ramen kits here (takeout and delivery): https://shopmenuyramen.com/
Instagram: @crafty_ ramen
Author: Emma Mitro, Lifestyle, Content Writer for The Onside Media, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]