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CULINARY

PROFESSIONALS Los Angeles

Text & Photo: Keiko Fukuda

Rakkan Ramen Expanding quickly to 3 locations in the LA area, a ramen restaurant chain from Tokyo,

Rakkan Ramen 629 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. Redondo Beach, CA 90277 (310) 543-0586 Rakkanusa.com

LA 地域に3店舗と急成長中 東京から進出したラーメン店

Sun.-Thu. 11:00am-11:00pm Fri. & Sat. 11:00am-12:00am DATA The following data is forthe Redondo Beach location.

以下のデータは Redondo Beach 店

1. Average Price 客単価 L $20, D $25 2. Monthly Sales 月間売上平均 $140,000 3. Food Cost フードコスト (%) 23% 4. Alcoholic Beverage Sales (%)

売上に対するアルコール比率

10%

5. Alcoholic Beverage Sales by Type アルコール売上高 ( 種類別 ) $14,000 6. Target Customer 客層 Local, Family 7. Featured Menu メニューの特徴 Ramen 8. Food Supplier 仕入れ先 Wismettac 9. Number of Staff 従業員数 25 staff 10. Number of Seats 座席数 50 seats 11. Opening Date 開店年月 July, 2018 12. Varieties of Sake in Store

24

取り扱い日本酒の種類数、売れ筋

House Sake, Kurosawa, Katana

November 2019

I

don’t know why, but in the beach cities of the Los Angeles suburbs, there were no ramen restaurants for a long time. It is the area which includes Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach. There were several ramen restaurants in nearby cities, Torrance and Gardena, and new establishments were coming to Costa Mesa, Little Tokyo, and Sawtelle, all of which were definitely avoiding the beach cities. However, in early 2019, when I was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in my local area, Redondo Beach, a banner on the wall of a Japanese restaurant which used to be owned by my acquaintance, caught my eyes. The banner had a photo of a ramen bowl! I couldn’t wait long, and visited that restaurant the following week. That was Rakkan Ramen. On my first visit, I tried the Amber Ramen in a soy saucebased mild-tasting soup. On the second visit, I tried the miso-based Spicy Garnet. The soup is rich and flavorful, and the noodles have just the right texture and thinness, and the charshu on top is delicious! Not only that, the place is close to my home. I have nothing to complain about. This find is a “big hit”! Rakkan Ramen also has a location in Downtown, LA, and recently opened another location in Santa Monica, but I

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Spicy Garnet based on miso based $13.50

Dashi is made with vegetables and kombu

kept going to the Redondo Beach location. When a half year had passed since I started to visit there, I requested to interview them through their website. Their CEO had agreed to do an interview at the Redondo Beach location. On the interview day, I was shocked about how young the CEO, Mr. Ito looked. He further shocked me by telling me that he was only 24 years old when he opened the very first Rakkan Ramen location 9 years ago in Nishi Azabu in Tokyo. He told me, “I was once a cook on a ship. I took the cooking course in high school, and acquired a cooking license when I graduated from high school. I also liked designing and the arts, so I went to a special school for it. Then I boarded a ship, and worked as a cook. I also did some back-packing travels. I had no experience in the ramen business, but there was an izakaya called “Namihei” on the ship where I was working as a

cook, and there, I used to serve ramen at meal breaks for the employees who came from various parts of the world, which was very well received.” Following Nishi Azabu, Rakkan opened 4 more locations in Tokyo and its suburbs. Despite the confidence he felt, he wanted a further challenge to pursue his dream of running a business overseas, and opened the first American location in Little Tokyo of Downtown, LA in July of 2017. I asked about the difference from Japan. He answered, “First, the soup is non-animal based, although there is charshu on top (lol). Dashi is made with vegetables and kombu. The reason is, I thought that going with vegan would be more widely received in the US.” Moreover, in order for customers to use the place as an izakaya, they included items that go well with Japanese sake on the menu such as buns (pork buns and vegetable buns) and appetizers to satisfy customers here, which are not found in Japan. They offer 10 different brands of Japanese sake. As for the Redondo Beach location, dinner accounts for 75% of the sales, maybe because there are no business offices nearby, and lunch accounts for only 25%. “I run 4 locations in Tokyo. There are differences between Japan and the US, and especially in Tokyo; not only the environment, but also the speed of business is different. It took me a long time to deeply observe the market environment in the US, and figure out how to go about it,” says Mr. Ito. In other words, instead of carrying over the successful strategy in Japan, I needed to come up with a new strategy unique to the US. In the end, I could say that it was a wise decision, although it took time to achieve.” I asked Mr. Ito about the future prospects. He said without hesitation, “I will push franchising.” With the acquired license to allow franchising in the US, he is planning to aggressively participate in expositions in Chicago in September, Houston in October, Paris in 2020, and London. Mr. Ito says, “I think that is the best way to spread the Rakkan brand.” I was curious to know where the name, Rakkan, came from. He said, “After traveling the world, I wanted Japanese people to feel more optimistic.”

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Japanese Restaurant News November 2019  

Japanese Restaurant News November 2019

Japanese Restaurant News November 2019  

Japanese Restaurant News November 2019

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