Table Talk

Patrons give ramen restaurant warm welcome

By

It's what every restaurateur both loves and fears: lines out the door on opening day.

Just ask Michael Kopfman, who opened Jobu Ramen on Memorial Day, May 26. Just when he thought people would be grilling out and tipping back a few with family, customers flooded his noodle house to get dibs on bowls of ramen, steamed buns and kimchi salads.

"I was expecting to be busy," he said, adding that he had a soft opening over the weekend. "I wasn't expecting lines at 10:40 (a.m.) and running out of product."

But that's pretty much what happened, and he had to close for dinner service that evening for fear of running out of food.

Jobu Ramen takes over 1439 Grandview Ave., the space previously occupied by Mazah, a Mediterranean restaurant that has moved to a bigger space down the street.

Kopfman said Jobu is the real deal, the kind of place you'd find in San Francisco, L.A. and New York City. It's a laid-back, inexpensive, quick-serve restaurant with a limited menu that took years to develop. Naturally, it starts with four complex broths -- vegetable, pork, chicken and a blend -- that take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to cook. The noodles are fresh but not made in-house; they're bought from a purveyor in New Jersey.

There are two types of steamed buns, another ramen staple, in chicken or roasted pork varieties.

There are some cross-cultural Asian dishes on the menu, such as five-spice chicken wings and kimchi. Most prices are $8 to $12.

The 38-seat space has a new look: blueish-gray walls lined with a few customized accoutrement.

"This is a great little footprint," Kopfman said.

He said he created an atmosphere he thought would fit in well with the community and would offer a diverse taste among the myriad restaurants already in the neighborhood.

"You're not in a place that got dropped in and is trying to fit in," he said. "It's already part of it."

A Toledo native, Kopfman earned a marketing and business degree from Miami University, then went to the Culinary Institute of America. He said he's lived everywhere, including several years on the West Coast, where his love for ramen grew. Interestingly enough, he never worked for a ramen restaurant.

He said he learned the business side of the industry working for the Hillstone Restaurant Group, known for its upscale casual restaurants located across the country.

He and his wife, Ella, wanted to move back to the Midwest to be closer to their families. She got a job at Northstar Cafe and he worked for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.

But it was time to open his own restaurant, and his yearning for ramen never subsided, although it is available at most sushi restaurants in central Ohio.

"There's not really a place in town that focuses on noodles," he said.

Kopfman said he got the name for the restaurant from Jobu, the voodoo god of Pedro Cerrano from the comedy Major League. A fan of Cleveland sports, Jobu also was Kopfman's nickname in culinary school.

"I was the one always beating the Cleveland drum," he said.

There is no alcohol for the time being, but Kopfman has applied for a liquor license at Jobu. It is open for lunch and dinner daily.

For more information, call 614-481-5480.

 

...................................

 

Brick is the latest restaurant to open in the former Handke's Cuisine storefront in the Brewery District.

The restaurant, with a classic American menu, is owned by Dave and Joyce Beers, local franchisees of Texas Roadhouse.

The menu has a largely familiar ring to it: shrimp cocktail, burgers, steaks, roasted chicken and a few house specialties. Most items are in the $7 to $15 range.

"We just make it fresh but hopefully modern," Joyce Beers said.

Brick, 520 S. Front St., is open for lunch and dinner hours Tuesday through Friday, dinner only on Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday. For more information call 614-914-5558.

 

Comments