Aaron Resch has lived in Asia Pacific for three years and was able to immerse himself in a whole new world of fantastic culinary experiences. Upon his return to the UK he noticed immediately that the great value noodle shops you find everywhere in Asia were missing, particularly Ramen shops (known as Ramen-ya in Japan). With this idea in mind he created United Ramen, but as someone who wasn’t Japanese he felt it would be wrong to try and imitate an authentic Ramen-ya; instead United Ramen celebrates the cultural influences and history that led to the development of modern Ramen. He believes that Ramen is a natural platform for cultural mash-ups so his dishes have been lovingly created using traditions inspired by Japan and infused with different cultural flavours.
After creating a business plan he was able to secure the financing needed to start the business. He is now in the middle of the challenging and time-consuming process of securing a property. Additionally, he spends significant time organising short-term pop-up events to build brand awareness, engage with customers and test out different dishes from his menu.
My day starts at 7am and after a shower I head to the kitchen for breakfast (I never skip a meal!) and I’m usually in front of my computer by 8am, checking through emails and constructing the day’s action list. I start by giving our head chef a call to discuss menu development for our upcoming pop-up events and ensure that all of our supply orders have been placed. Having updated our website (www.unitedramen.com) with details for the pop-ups, as well as marketed the events through our Twitter feed (@unitedramen) and Facebook Page (facebook.com/unitedramen) I check our ticket sales on our booking partner’s website. Then, I spend 30 minutes talking to our social media followers before inviting journalists to our pop-ups so they can get to know us better before we find a permanent home.
Knowing that the pop-ups are in good shape I am out the door by 10am to meet my property consultant for a property viewing. We look around for about 15 minutes taking pictures of the entire space so we can determine whether the site is feasible for us. I find my nearest mobile office (any coffee shop will do) to start my analysis. Opening a restaurant is capital intensive, the most significant costs being: rent deposit, kitchen equipment, systems such as kitchen extraction and air conditioning/heating, structural work and fit-out costs including all interior design elements such as walls, ceilings, flooring, furniture and lighting. Therefore, I start by sending pictures to our mechanical and electrical consultant to assess system requirements before I speak with our contractor about any structural modifications required. Then, after lunch I meet with my interior design team to talk through the potential fit-out costs including the number of seats we can fit into the space. From this I can work out details like staffing needs, crockery volumes and the number of EPOS (electronic point of sale) terminals we’ll install. I now have a good idea of what it will cost to open and run the restaurant.
By 4pm I have met up with my intern to set the gruelling task of footfall counting over the next week to see what the ebbs and flows of trade are likely to be if we were to occupy the site. This is of paramount importance because it tells us whether we will be able to cover our costs for the site. I can then report our analysis to my investors in our monthly board report.
By 6pm I have spoken to my property lawyer about the proposed terms of the lease for the property and anything that we need to address with the landlord. I also call my licensing lawyer about the current state of the premises license and whether we will need to make any applications to the council.
I get home at around 7pm and weigh up the pros and cons of the location for United Ramen with my restaurant adviser to decide whether to submit an offer the following day. I submit my expenses into our cloud-based accounting system for our accountants to process. As an avid foodie I do all the cooking in our house so I knock up a home-cooked meal for my wife and myself before getting back to my computer. I write notes for my next blog post about what we’ve been doing to get the business off the ground so people can keep track of our journey. I respond to messages from the day on our social media feeds before finally heading to bed at around midnight.
The process is intense, fun, frustrating and exciting all at the same time with each day bringing new surprises and challenges that need to be dealt with. I am driven by the vision of United Ramen opening its doors for the first time and welcoming our customers in for a bowl of hearty and warming Ramen noodles and achieving our mission of “Making you feel good. Inside & out. One bowl at a time”.