From Ani Ramen House:
Montclair Hospitality Group, owners of Ani Ramen House, the popular group of New Jersey craft ramen and Japanese izakaya restaurants, have announced plans to introduce short-term, nonprofit 501(c)(3) pop-up take-out and delivery concepts at four of their existing Ani Ramen locations, first in Jersey City and then Montclair, Maplewood and Summit starting April 24.
Not one to sit idle while in-house dining is temporarily suspended at Ani Ramen House during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, Montclair Hospitality Group knew they wanted to do something to help first responders, frontline medical staff, displaced hospitality workers in their communities, as well as their own staff. MHG conceptualized temporary, nonprofit pop-ups that will not only provide guests with delicious pizza and Thai rotisserie chicken, but also a way to give back: thus, “Rock City Pizza Co.” and “Bang Bang Chicken” were born. These temporary concepts will offer guests take-out/delivery at a lower than normal price point, along with the opportunity to do something for those in need. When they purchase their own meal, guests will be encouraged to add a little extra to their tab to cover a donated meal.
Owner Luck Sarabhayavanija stated, “We were heartbroken to have to temporarily close our ramen restaurants and lay off our team due to COVID-19, but we felt our signature ramen just wasn’t ideal for takeout. 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 is a celebrity hairstylist and Nutley native who spends his days off giving haircuts to the homeless in New York City and around the world. Each Ani Ramen location will become a temporary home to the two pop-up restaurant concepts, hiring displaced Ani Ramen staff, and geared to safe distance takeout and delivery for a projected four to six weeks. Luck wanted to be clear, “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.”
Rock City Pizza Co. will serve Detroit-style pizzas for $11 to $13. A $6 donation buys a free pizza pie for someone in need. Bang Bang Chicken will serve rotisserie chicken for $15 to $19; $8 more will buy someone a free meal.
The team’s goal is to continue “giving back” after their successful March 2020 meal kit giveaway, when Ani Ramen handed out a total of 15,000 bowls of ramen to people in need. “Our hearts were full,” says Luck. “We knew we couldn’t just sit back. We want to keep that going—we’re in the hospitality business to serve.” The team is quickly putting in place all the pieces needed to ramp up and essentially open these new restaurant concepts in four weeks.