Ramen Bowls moving to a bigger downtown Lawrence location – again

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Ramen Bowls, a downtown Lawrence noodle restaurant, will soon enter its third chapter. 

Business partners Shantel Grace and Tim Grace first opened Ramen Bowls at 125 E. 10th St. — currently home to Pizza Palace — in 2013.

They moved to 918 Massachusetts St. in December 2017. Soon, they’re packing up and heading to 900 New Hampshire St. 

“We’re just in love with the block, I think,” Shantel jokes.

Close quarters at 918 Mass have meant that Ramen Bowls has had to embrace communal dining to make tables work, Shantel says, “which is so lovely in some respects, but not exactly comfortable for some people.” 

Space constraints have also forced them to discontinue some beloved menu items, which Shantel says has been really hard for the restaurant and for many longtime patrons.

HVAC challenges have also contributed — the noodles’ broth releases a great deal of steam that is difficult in an older building. 

“I think each phase has its own story,” Shantel says. “… In many ways, (the current location) taught us a lot. I think that like so many of us who have been through some really challenging years, there is a part of me that’s really excited to move on and open a new third chapter to Ramen Bowls.”

Ramen Bowls at 125 E. 10th St. and at 918 Massachusetts St. (Photos courtesy of Ramen Bowls)

She says she’s very grateful for the time there. “Really and truly, it’s just the space constraints, and wanting to offer a little bit better experience for our beloved patrons.” 

Shantel anticipates that there will be about 25 additional seats in the new location, plus a full bar, and a big patio that will add roughly another 25 seats when the weather is nice. There will still be some communal dining, but not as much. 

The restaurant will have a quick service counter as it does currently, but also “kind of a loungy, full dining experience” for people who want to make a reservation and take it slow, Shantel says. 

Shantel, a farmer’s daughter from Kansas, says the noodle shop serves food inspired by Japanese ramen as well as the cuisine of Hawaii, with a strong leaning toward the Midwestern cuisine at the owners’ roots. 

The Hawaiian influence comes from her four years of graduate school on the island, where she says she fell in love with the diversity of the culture and food, “and the melting pot that it really is.” But Ramen Bowls — where you’ll find beef, pork, sunflower seeds and Spam — is “the casserole of our lineage,” she says. 

She and Tim had a little bit of experience in the restaurant industry when they first launched Ramen Bowls, but they weren’t professionals “by any means” at the time. 

“When I look back at the audacity of trying to open what at that time was kind of an unknown concept, it kind of shakes me to my core,” she says, jokingly chalking it up to both confidence and ignorance. Nonetheless, the concept has worked. Ramen Bowls is now 10 years old, and it survived the COVID-19 pandemic that created unprecedented challenges for restaurants everywhere. 

The space at 900 New Hampshire St., which is attached to TownePlace Suites by Marriott, has housed Lark A Fare and Gold Medal BBQ in recent years. 

Gold Medal BBQ Co., 900 New Hampshire St., is pictured during the September 2021 Busker Festival. (LT file photo)

Shantel is no stranger to folks’ skepticism that restaurants will last in certain spaces — both Ramen Bowls’ first and current locations had seen pretty rapid turnover in the years prior. 

“There’s always a little fear there. But the fact that there was turnover doesn’t scare me as much as, do we have what it takes for a new chapter? And I believe we definitely do,” she says. “But yeah, to say there’s no fear at all would be a total lie.”

Shantel says she’s been flooded with positivity since announcing the upcoming move. She asked in a social media post for people to reach out if they’d like to share memories and photos from the restaurant. She’s received photos of people’s kids eating ramen, someone proposing there, and even someone getting a tattoo of their ramen character. Former employees who are “all over the world now” also sent photos from their time there. 

“It was a great boost to feel really good about what we’re doing,” she says. 

She doesn’t foresee a lot of downtime before and after the move — the restaurant might be closed for a day or two. 

“If you know Tim Grace, you’ll know that the last time, we moved overnight and we were open for service the next day,” Shantel says, laughing. 

They’re working to get permits and signage ready to go, and Shantel does not have an exact date to open in the new location yet, but she says the move will definitely be in February. She plans to post updates on Ramen Bowls’ Facebook, facebook.com/RamenBowlsLawrence, and Instagram, @ramenbowlslawrence

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Saltwell Farm Kitchen reopens after fire

Shantel also co-owns Saltwell Farm Kitchen, which was heavily damaged by a fire on Oct. 1. 

The farm-restaurant in Overbrook has since reopened, and Shantel says she’s seen the silver lining to the tragedy: they’ve expanded the dining room a bit, and the time allowed her and co-owner Rozz Petrozz to bond with their team. 

“It feels more magical and bright than I ever really dreamed of, and so I look back at this forced closure as a real gift,” Shantel says. 

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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