Franchise plans to bring ‘authentic’ noodle niche south

The former Branson’s Hotel is being converted to a ramen restaurant. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The former Branson’s Hotel is being converted to a ramen restaurant. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A place that once served pints of cold beer will now serve bowls of hot ramen.

A Tokyo Ramen Takeichi restaurant is being set up inside the old Branson’s Bar next to the Dunedin bus hub.

There is large orange-netted scaffolding outside.

Inside, the old bar has been stripped out and contractors are working on the new store.

The ramen restaurant will be operated by Dunedin woman Gillian Sugiyama and her husband Yuya Sugiyama, and is expected to open in September.

Mrs Sugiyama moved back to New Zealand after living in Japan and Thailand for 20 years.

"I’ve come back with a couple of boys and realised there was a real lack of authentic Japanese, especially ramen.

"We had this opportunity with this franchise — that’s why Dunedin — it’s my home base. It didn’t make sense to go to Auckland.

"The climate’s great here for ramen."

The Tokyo Ramen Takeichi company has franchise restaurants in Germany, the Netherlands and Southeast Asia but this will be its first store in New Zealand.

A Tokyo Ramen Takeichi store in Dusseldorf, Germany. The company will open a new store in Dunedin...
A Tokyo Ramen Takeichi store in Dusseldorf, Germany. The company will open a new store in Dunedin. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The Sugiyamas discovered the franchises when they went back to Japan in 2019 for the Rugby World Cup.

Through business connections they met the president of the Tokyo Ramen Takeichi company — and "here we are", Mrs Sugiyama said.

She said her restaurant would specialise in ramen, which was basically a "bowl of hot soup with noodles in it so it warms you up".

"It’s becoming more and more known in New Zealand."

The company created a "Takeichi New Zealand" Facebook page in November last year and in its first post said it was excited "to soon be able to serve authentic delicious ramen".

The restaurant had posted photos about the work going on inside and now had an advertisement looking for staff.

"As we are getting closer to opening we are looking for staff," it said.

"If you have experience in a Japanese kitchen (not sushi) we are looking for a qualified chef. Must have Japanese cuisine training and at least three years’ experience working in a Japanese restaurant, preferably in Japan."

The company was also looking for part-time front-of-house staff with experience at busy cafes or restaurants.

jacob.mcsweeny@odt.co.nz

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