Nfld. & Labrador

Bad Bones Ramen comes back for seconds

The St. John's restaurant is back, but has it found the recipe for success?

Despite being consistently packed, St. John's restaurant shut down in December

Chef and co-owner Adam Gollop working in the new Bad Bones Ramen kitchen. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

A bowl of ramen looks simple — noodles, veggies and broth, with maybe some meat or fish — but in reality, it's a complex dish with many ingredients.

It's a lot like running a successful business: a lot harder than it looks.

At the end of the day, if it doesn't work … then we did our best.- Jasmine Kean

"What it came down to was that, buying so many fresh ingredients is so expensive," says Jasmine Kean, co-owner of Bad Bones Ramen in St. John's.

"Then the overhead of the rent and the bills, it just became impossible."

Bad Bones Ramen was offering something people wanted to buy, but the popular restaurant still had to shut down in December.

Fans of Bad Bones Ramen in downtown St. John's flocked to the restaurant for dishes like this. (Facebook/Bad Bones Ramen )

But Kean and her partner, co-owner and chef Adam Gollop, reopened after moving into the space on Water Street formerly occupied by Tavola, another restaurant that closed last year.

When the original Bad Bones shut down, Gollop said he and Kean got a call from Tavola owner Bob Hallett.

"It was like, 'We're closing the place down.' And he's like, 'Hey, why are you closing that place? It's doing so well,'" said Gollop.

"'Check out this place, I've got a restaurant that's been closed for a while.'"

Gollop and Kean said Hallett is giving them a good deal, so they're happy to try again, but many others haven't been so lucky.

The new Bad Bones Ramen is across the street from the location of The Fifth Ticket, another downtown St. John's restaurant that closed in 2018. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Uncertainty in the air

Tavola and Bad Bones were two of several downtown restaurants to close in 2018; the Reluctant Chef, Fifth Ticket and others became casualties of a slowing economy.

Add that to the rising cost of food, as well as downtown rent, and restaurants are getting squeezed out, said Kean.

"It's becoming a problem. I mean, I heard of another restaurant downtown who recently shut down because of the high rent cost. And the landlord wouldn't budge on the price," said Kean.

"Why would they rather have an empty building, rather than offering a reasonable rent?"

Since Bad Bones reopened this week, the place is, once again, packed.

Like ramen much, St. John's? A long lineup of customers at the new Bad Bones Ramen. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

"Someone said to me the other day, you don't have customers, you have fans," said Kean.

Gollop said it's a thrill to see their old regulars coming to the new location.

"First night we opened up they were coming through the door, I was like, you guys look like you're in line for a concert out there," he said.

But even if the tables stay full, Kean and Gollop said uncertainty for downtown businesses still hangs in the air.

"And at the end of the day, if it doesn't work … then we did our best," said Kean.

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