After landing a deal of a lifetime on CBC’s Dragons' Den last year, Jared and Miki Ferrall are about to take the taste of Crafty Ramen to a new location in Toronto.
Since the restaurant first opened in Guelph five years ago, Crafty Ramen is becoming recognized nationwide for its Japanese-inspired classic ramen, and unique ‘at-home’ ramen experience.
With locations in Guelph and Kitchener, Jared and Miki are now ready to take on Toronto with a third restaurant opening at 217 Ossington Avenue on March 16.
“It’s a busy time for sure. We are super excited about opening in this area. I’ve hung out in Toronto a lot and I know this area very well. When you walk down the street, there are some really cool places,” Jared said.
“To think that we are now going to have a shop amongst them, and in that community, it really is awesome.”
With an open kitchen, Toronto noodle lovers are invited to engage in the cooking experience, and to watch and learn as their meals are prepared.
“I’m so exiting to be part of the design process. I can’t wait to see how people will receive it,” Miki said.
Since appearing on Dragons' Den in October, Jared says the experience has brought Crafty Ramen increased credibility and exposure.
“We’ve just continued to evolve and grow. Today, we spend a lot of our time moving around. When we first opened in Guelph, it was just us. I was always there. But that’s because we were the only ones who really knew how things worked and how we wanted things to work,” Jared said.
Crafty Ramen continues to expand, and with it, so too does a growing team of employees.
“We’ve developed a great team. We put so much trust in these amazing people that we’ve been lucky enough to attract,” Jared said.
The new restaurant in Toronto will include a mini-market which will offer a variety of Asian-inspired products including Crafty Ramen's make-at-home meals and sauces, as well as the restaurant's recently launched ‘frozen’ ramen products, soon to be available at grocery stores across Canada.
“Being on Dragons' Den has allowed Crafty Ramen to grow its brand, especially on the ‘grocery side',” Jared said.
“The grocery line product is all in one, frozen into layers. You just put it into a pot or microwave, and heat. This product is a restaurant quality ramen, ready in only seven minutes!”
The couple says their lives have become anything but less than busy, especially as parents of a five year old.
“But it’s become less lonely as more people join us. It’s really become a Crafty Ramen family," Jared said.
Jared and Miki continue to reside in Guelph, a place where they are proud to grow their roots and call home.
“Miki and I were both nomads. We moved around a lot growing up. I have lived in and around Ontario and then England. Miki was in Japan but also moved around every couple years too. We met in Vancouver. We ended up working on boats travelling the world working together which was very exciting. But we knew that we didn’t want to do that forever,” Jared said.
After they met, Jared and Miki moved to Japan and spent many years living and cooking in different cities. After attending the Yamato School of Ramen together, they toured the country in search of the best ramen shops.
Returning to Canada, they were inspired to share their love of ramen with their new community by creating unique dishes, incorporating both Japanese and local flavours.
“We knew that we were missing a sense of community in our lives. My dad had moved the family to Guelph 20 years ago. So, I was familiar with the city,” Jared said.
“We loved the place. It was a natural choice for us. We knew that Guelph would be the place where we wanted to grow our own roots. It’s a great city with great people. I really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Miki says operating Crafty Ramen has allowed her to make meaningful connections within her community.
“I love interacting with the guests. I speak with them and have great conversations, and this is what is so enjoyable,” Miki said.
For Jared, the restaurant has opened up new learning opportunities.
“Because we are constantly evolving, I am learning new processes, bringing in new technologies, redeveloping our product, and also learning from the crew that we have brought in. As we expand and as the company gets bigger, we attract bigger talent,” Jared said.
“These people really know what they are doing. It takes things to a new level, something I could not have imagined doing on our own. So, learning from them and working with them, this is what I love.”
Miki says her goal in the future is to open a Crafty Ramen at the Toronto Pearson Airport .
“When I leave or come to the airport, I know how great it would be for others to have a taste of home,” she said.