GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids restaurant will bring a new twist to ramen while helping feed children in need.
Noodlepig will be located at 601 Bond Ave. NW, just north of Trowbridge Street. The business applied this week for a city permit to renovate the 2,122-square-foot space, located in Grand Rapids’ Monroe North neighborhood.
Founder and executive chef Chris Wessely plans to create a quick-service restaurant that serves up bowls of ramen made from scratch. Every bowl sold will also fund meals for three children in need on the international, national and local scale.
Wessely expects each order to cost $12 to $15, though he cautioned inflation and staffing costs may raise prices slightly.
“I’m hoping that West Michigan will embrace it and I think we will be competitive with other places,” he said.
Noodlepig’s menu will include fusion ramen bowls that showcase different cultural flavors, including Thai and Mexican. The signature bowl will feature Manchego cheese and a side of baby back ribs in place of the traditional thinly cut pork used in ramen bowls. Visitors can also build their own ramen bowl and opt for more traditional toppings and finishing oils.
The restaurant will also offer salads and boba tea made from frozen fruits. Wessely plans to apply for a liquor license so he an sell canned wine, beer, sake and boba cocktails to go, since his restaurant is in a social district.
Noodlepig’s broths will be made in house from dozens of whole food ingredients, according to Wessely. The noodles will be thicker and heartier than the packaged version found in grocery stores.
Wessely’s vision for the restaurant includes a glass “noodle room” where customers can watch the noodles being made using 1,200-pound machine that arrived this month from Japan.
“I thought that would be the last thing I’m waiting on, but it’s not. The whole construction process is taking forever,” Wessely said.
He originally hoped to open Noodlepig on March 1 but is now setting his sights on an April finish date.
Wessely graduated from Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts in 2011 at the top of his class. His charitable ramen concept was one of the top 100 ideas picked to be part of Start Garden’s Demo Day last year.
Wessely previously worked in sales before losing his job during the Great Recession. That’s when he pursued his passion for food and founded the Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club, which has since expanded to a dozen cities under a new name: JAM. Wessely plans to step back from his role with JAM and become a minority owner in March so he can focus on Noodlepig.
Wessely is half Japanese and says the restaurant will allow him to share a little bit of his culture and his ramen experience while staying in Japan in 2000.
He plans to eventually roll out delivery service and merchandise for Noodlepig.