Get ready to see some familiar faces on CBC’s Dragons’ Den later this month, as the owners of Guelph’s Crafty Ramen cook up their most popular meals for some of Canada’s biggest entrepreneurs.
The downtown staple has come a long way from what was initially opened as a mom-and-pop style restaurant in 2017, when co-founders Miki and Jared Ferrall thought they would sell a few hundred bowls of ramen per day.
But Guelph had other plans for them.
From day one, they had a line around the block and quickly sold out of everything they had prepared.
Not long after, Khalil Khamis – a devoted customer – joined the team as co-owner to help them grow the brand.
They opened a second location in Kitchener, and started offering at-home meal kits online for local pickup.
They set up their e-commerce site and started shipping the kits all over Ontario, and began stocking a frozen version in grocery stores.
Now Crafty Ramen is hoping the Dragons will help them grow.
“We want to become the household name for ramen across North America,” Jared said. They’re already on their way.
In the coming months, they’ll be offering ramen kit delivery in BC, and will be opening a third restaurant in Toronto in the new year. It’s growth like this that landed them on the list of one of Canada’s Top Growing Companies by the Globe and Mail. Next, they’re eyeing places like Costco and Loblaws to stock their products.
But Jared said they’re only at the beginning.
“We’ve grown so much, but there’s still so much more to do. We’ve been preparing for five years to go big, and that’s not even finished – we’re still trying to get better every day.”
Miki said they also feel it’s their responsibility to grow the company so their staff have the chance to grow with them.
“If we don’t grow, there is nowhere (they) can grow,” she said.
It’s also personal for Miki, and why they opened the restaurant in the first place: they want to create a sense of comfort and familiarity for their patrons.
Miki grew up in Japan. When she travelled alone, arriving in an unfamiliar airport, she found herself returning time and time again to McDonald's because it was the only familiar place that evoked a sense of home and could help her relax.
“So the reason we created Crafty was because I needed to create ‘home’ for me, but also because there are Japanese people living in Canada, and I wanted our place to be home for them,” she said. “But also for Canadians who don’t have a connection to Japan.
"We opened Crafty Ramen in the hopes of sharing the experience of Japanese culture and comfort with Canadians, so being on a national show like Dragons' Den, with all of Canada getting a taste of Crafty, is really a dream come true."
The episode airs Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. on CBC.