How Ani Ramen Gave Back During COVID-19 (#BeAwesomeFeedSomebody)

How Ani Ramen Gave Back During COVID-19 (#BeAwesomeFeedSomebody)
Melissa Bensky

By Melissa Bensky

Ani Ramen is a boutique ramen house with five locations in New Jersey. The word “Ani” in Japanese means ‘big brother,’ which describes Ani Ramen’s philosophy when it comes to their community—by nourishing and growing local communities in the way that siblings and families do when they come together. Ani Ramen strives to be part of the family community by offering a place to share high-quality meals and experiences with ramen.

COVID-19 has greatly impacted the restaurant industry across North America and around the world. Due to the pandemic, Ani Ramen knew they could no longer operate their restaurants as they once did—some serious changes were going to happen if they wanted to support and serve their community during and after the pandemic.

Preparing for COVID-19 closure

Before closing their five locations, Ani Ramen knew they had to do something with all their inventory before it goes to waste. The staff at Ani Ramen cleared out the kitchens and created ramen family meal kits to be donated to their local communities. In just one day, Ani Ramen donated 15,000 meals. Inspired by what they were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, they wanted to do something more permanent to not only keep their business running but to help those in need.

“There’s a huge demand for people to have great food and feel a little bit more comfortable and at ease. Plus, being in the hospitality business, that’s what we do. We serve people. We take care of people. We make people happy. We make them feel better on a daily basis. And we can’t just still and allow things to happen to us. We wanted to be more in control of our own destiny and figure out how we can do something bigger and better” - Erica Gillespie, VP of Operations, Ani Ramen

#BeAwesomeFeedSomebody

Ani Ramen was determined to continue sharing their love of food but there were a few obstacles they knew they needed to overcome. Ramen does not travel very well and when it does, it’s not nearly the same. Ani Ramen didn’t want to sacrifice the quality and taste of their product they worked so hard to perfect.

Ani Ramen re-opened its Jersey City location and launched a non-profit restaurant called #BeAwesomeFeedSomebody that has two restaurant brands; Bang Bang Chicken and Rock City Pizza Company. This pop-up take-out and delivery restaurant are helping to support first responders of COVID-19. When you place your order, you’re given the option to donate a pie or chicken to the Front Lines.  

This non-profit restaurant pop-up is all about paying it forward.  There’s even a combo called #BeAWesomeFoodSomebody Combo where you receive the food and Bang Bang Chicken and Rock City Pizza company will donate a pie and chicken to front line workers. It’s the best of both worlds.

In just 10 days, the non-profit received over 1,000 online donations just by people placing orders online.

“Almost every order we get, somebody is  purchasing a pie or a chicken to be donated to people, which is incredible” -Erica Gillespie


Moving Forward

As cities, states and countries have succeeded in flattening the curve,  restaurants are preparing to re-open over the next few weeks, Ani Ramen and #BeAwesomeFeedSomebody is now in the process of reopening their restaurant once again.  As much as they can’t wait to feed people and have a busy, lively restaurant,  the Ani Ramen team knows how important the health and safety of its customers are and it is their number one priority.

“We crave the crowds, the love, the gatherings, the shared experiences, and it may take a different physical form and it may be a different format, but we know that we can still heal people. We can soothe people. We can make people happy. We can put smiles on peoples faces if we just think of a different way to make t happen, and we can make it work”

Ani Ramen plans on opening one takeout location as soon as they can, so they can practice and perfect takeout ramen delivery. As they expect takeout to be a key component of all Ani Ramen locations moving forward.

Bang Bang Chicken and Rock City Pizza are not going anywhere for the time being.

“We’ll continue the Be Awesome Feed Somebody until we feel we have an omni model that makes the most sense” -Erica Gillespie, VP of Operations,  Ani Ramen

For more information about #BeAwesomeFeedSomebody and to donate to this amazing nonprofit visit their website https://beawesomefeedsomebody.org/



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Melissa Bensky
Melissa Bensky

Melissa is a foodie, chocoholic and is always looking for the next food trend. Check out her Instagram @tastethesix to discover Toronto's finest eats.