• Jessica Lee

How our Ramen Business Beat the Pandemic

Every week, I feel disheartened to hear about how restaurants are struggling through the pandemic. So many restaurants and food businesses have permanently closed since the pandemic hit our country earlier this year. Small business livelihoods are now gone. Family-owned businesses are disappearing at an alarming rate. Against the odds of mandatory shutdowns, thankfully our ramen experience business has found a new wave to ride to survival. How have we managed to survive?

Before March 2020, The Story of Ramen was a ramen cooking center that offered in-person noodle and broth cooking experiences. Couples and individuals signed up for our seatings as a date night, fun activity, to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, and more. Companies signed for sessions as team building activities to motivate their employees. Our goal was to create a new experience beyond a traditional restaurant approach.

But in March, that changed. We received tons of emails and phone calls about cancelations of events. Our business, like most others, came to a complete halt. We tried selling t-shirts and DIY ramen kits. When permitted we tried outdoor dining. But nothing worked early on. Our experiences prior to March brought people together... instead of keeping them divided.

One potential we explored: online/virtual experiences (classes). At the time, many chefs and cooking schools started offering virtual classes but they sent a laundry list of ingredients to buy in advance. We didn't see the logic of pushing people to go out shopping during the pandemic. We wanted our virtual customers to really taste our broth and our noodles. So we developed a hybrid approach of offering a cooking class with our ramen ingredient kit, delivered to their doorsteps.