In March, Jersey City’s Ani Ramen House showed strong community support by donating 15,000 bowls of ramen to locals amid the array of small business closures. Recently the popular ramen house found another way to give back to essential workers and locals, making preparations to temporarily reopen as a pop-up takeout and delivery service at all four of its New Jersey locations.
Starting on April 24, Ani Ramen House will officially launch as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, serving Chicago-style pizza and Thai rotisserie chicken. Under the names Rock City Pizza and Bang Bang Chicken, these interim businesses will give their respective communities a lower than normal price point for takeout.
Under the new model, each guest purchasing a meal will have an opportunity to add a small amount to their tab. This extra amount will go towards a donated meal for those in need. Each pizza will cost around $11 to $13, and a $6 donation purchases a pizza for someone. Similarly, adding $8 to each rotisserie chicken from Bang Bang Chicken ($15 to $19) will do the same.
While Ani Ramen’s goal is to give back to the communities they love, these non-profit pop-ups will also employ many of their displaced staff. The restaurant industry, in particular, has been crippled along with other small businesses since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are heartbroken to have to temporarily close our ramen restaurants and lay off our team due to COVID-19, but we felt our signature ramen wasn’t ideal for takeout,” owner Luck Sarabhayavanija said. “
“I was inspired by and am partnering with my childhood friend Mark Bustos who founded the #beawesometosomebody movement. Like Mark, we love to serve.” Bustos, a celebrity hairstylist and New Jersey-native, has historically spent his time off giving haircuts to the homeless in Manhattan.
For all those ramen lovers out there (of which I include myself) rest assured that Ani Ramen will be back. “I want our loyal customers to know that Ani Ramen will be returning as soon as dine-in restrictions are lifted and it is safe to resume business as usual.”
“Our hearts were full,” the owner said. “We knew we couldn’t just sit back. We want to keep that going—we’re in the hospitality business to serve.”
You can also show support by purchasing Ani Ramen gift cards – which the restaurant will match in price. These gift cards will only be usable once the popular ramen house reopens.