Why I Started a Ramen Restaurant on the Tiniest of Budgets (Part 1)

Updated January 28th, 2022

I had attempted to write this post several times in the last year although I am finally doing it in multiple parts so that others could potentially learn from my experiences.

The reason why I wanted to communicate what I am doing is because I am not doing the two things I am constantly being asked which are “so are you doing a brick and mortar,” or “are you doing a food truck?” Well, neither, and due to my background, it is not going to be a black and white solution. Afterall, food trucks are recently new (2008), and there should be more than two main options (yea, beyond a hot dog cart).

In the Last Two Decades, I Had Wanted to Get Into the Food/Restaurant Industry

Most of my good friends knew that I had wanted to start a restaurant, but having worked in tech to the marketing field, which was somewhat lucrative enough where I did not want to leave (well more like complacency). The other downside was that even with my substantial stock investments, I could have paid for the start-up costs, but I would not have had enough money to continue to live in Los Angeles/Newport Beach, along with not being able to feed myself, and I love to eat.

Since My First Business, Till Now, My Goal Was to Learn How Not to Go Out of Business

Since the end of my first business in San Jose, California when I was 25 years old, my number one goal was to learn “how not to go out of business.” Having that as my number one objective was a good thing because not only did I know that I would need those skills in the future, but I realized later that the employers I had worked with appreciated that I was critical of my work and not solely task driven. Everything I did, I had to have a reason as to why I was doing it, and that my actions had to have a profound and positive effect on the company because I was all about NOT GOING OUT OF BUSINESS.

I love trying different food, so I would hit up places in East Oakland at 3am to everywhere throughout Los Angeles, regardless if I can get jumped, robbed or shot at.

I Love Colorado’s Chicano and Mexican food

Not a whole lot of people knew that I had wanted to do Chicano style food that I loved so much in Colorado (on my IG, there are hints of it from a half-decade ago), and the original plan was to introduce it to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, due to the operating costs involved, I had to choose a state to minimize my costs and where I would have skin in the game which was Colorado. A state I was born in, had family and friends in, and so I knew it would be the most forgiving state to be in regards to my finances starting off.

I Love Challenges

Throughout my career, I was constantly challenged to not only identify and understand the problem a company was having, but I also had to develop a solution to that problem. A problem I saw in Colorado even though 24 years had gone by since I had last lived there, I saw that the Japanese food scene had not changed dramatically at all because there is such a small community of ethnically Japanese people in the state. So the vast majority of businesses are Americanized fusion “Japanese” restaurants which means they are marketing everything under the guise of being “Japanese” versus being Chinese, Thai, or Korean which is sadly unfortunate. I want to change that because I love Taiwanese beef noodle soup, galbitang, to boat noodle soup.

Taniguchi Ya/Ramen was Born

Growing up a fourth-generation Japanese American and a Coloradan, I wanted to be one of the ethnically Japanese to contribute to the culture of this state which it is severely lacking. The cultural aspect is extremely important to me, and it seems as though I am more driven to do that sometimes beyond the sensibilities of operating a profitable business, but I won’t get into that till the next post. Well, unless nobody cares about part 2, but I hope they do because I am doing this as a road map for others to use to start their own restaurant. Something I could not find while Googling it or on YouTube.

Part 2, I plan on spelling out all the challenges.

I might not be able to size everything up in only two parts because I am also working on opening back up again which is why I also wanted to write this all up before I got too busy again.

  • My overall plan.
  • Why I believe it should not always require $200-300k to feed people.
  • My new menu (the test event went really well).
  • The challenges I had to contend with.
  • And anything you think would help you (feel free to message me).


Karens are everywhere.

It was our 2nd rodeo cowpoke.

There will always be those types that feel compelled and obligated to voice their opinion on anything and everything (from BBQs in a park to dudes dog walking). These individuals have their strict expectations regardless if you are attempting a 1-day pop-up by a person who never once called themselves a chef. I made sure to have myself labeled as a cook to Westword because I did not earn the ‘chef title because, for one, I respect everybody in the profession (it is why I started with pop-ups).

When I did my ramen pop-up, regardless of how much planning I did, there are always going to be massive challenges for a 1-day event (that is why restaurants have month long soft openings, and I am well aware of my mistakes, that’s how you learn).

So the reason I highlight these individuals, is that we are more than welcome to express our opinions, but do these types ever think why are they doing it? My assumption is that it gives them a level of self-importance because I inconvenienced their voluntary opportunity to eat (or they don’t like people using the park the way they deem to be ok). I only highlight this individual because she epitomizes why so many businesses go with a 10 minute instant ramen stock over a 14-16 hour version (also that’s just one component out of 5). After all, segments of the market do not care to understand the cultural aspects and challenges you may be up against or trying to take on.

I Would Like to Thank

EVERYBODY WHO TOOK THE TIME TO MAKE IT OUT TO AN EVENT. BTW, I will be explaining why within 3 events the food has changed dramatically (hopefully for the better).

I also could not have done what I have done without these individuals, and it would have been impossible because they have either helped with their knowledge or in making everything happen:

Akane K.
Becca B.
The Connie
Donna D. (“Duck”)
Faye PL.
Ganesh K.
Gerry F.
Jarred DP.
Mr. Joe “the man” (dude knows everything)
Jose (mr Kaizen)
Katie DP.
Lauren “Poods”
Lilee D. (“Lil Dookie”)
Lucy H.
Mark H’san
Mark Q.
Marvel Z.
The Raimbaults
Rya D. (“Duck”)
Shaun N.
Sofia and the Prost posse
Tomo M.
Vivian N.
Willie M.

And if I missed anybody else, I did not mean to but thank you so very much.

You can almost figure out what I have planned based upon my websites.

My ramen/noodle venture
Part of my overall plan
(I want to promote ALL ethnic foods)
My personal portfolio


  1. Hi Greg, I swear by my sushi and love to explore new eating joints for special occasions in Delhi, India. Wish you all the luck in the world with what you want to achieve. I look forward to Part two.
    Thanks and much appreciated for sharing

    1. Wow, this is just too cool to actually hear from somebody in India, and I would love to know how hard it is to set up a restaurant in Delhi. Also, thank you, but I’m actually taking my inspiration from street vendors in India that my homie Ganesh told me about, to Singapore, Taiwan, and Fukuoka Japan’s night markets, so I hope it still has some value to you reading it.

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