Zach Nicholson and Sarah Pardee, owners of the pop-up ramen restaurant Lucky Cat
, announced today that they are opening a permanent restaurant in the Crosstown Concourse building.
But, first, Lucky Cat will open another pop-up in corner space at Cafe 1912, which served briefly as a wine and tapas bar. The pop-up is set to open on June 2nd.
Nicholson and Pardee, who are married, are both trained chefs with experience in high-end dining. Nicholson worked for Erling Jensen. It was move to Austin that opened their eyes to ramen.
Nicholson says he's eaten in the best restaurants around the country, but the really good ramen he was eating in Austin was like a brand new cuisine. And it was affordable.
The pair eventually returned to Memphis (Nicholson is from here). Pardee designed the menu for the Hollywood Feed bakery, Nicholson worked for Catherine & Mary's.
They wanted to work for themselves, though, and a food truck seemed viable financially. Before they could get a loan, however, they were told to do some pop-ups first to test the concept. The first was in December 2016, and it's been gangbusters since.
The success can be credited to those tasty ramen bowls that range from traditional to creative — Tan Tan, Miso Pork, Yuzu Veggie. Nicholson says he sometimes goes Southern with a bowl featuring collard greens and bacon or with the Memphis BBQ Pork steam bun.
The pop-up restaurant will offer five to six bowls (3 or 4 pork, 1 or 2 veggie, and a rotating chicken bowl), plus a vegetarian bun and a pork bun. The space seats about 50 and will have at-counter ordering. The decor will have an Asian look and dim lighting.
The pop-up will be open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.
Nicholson says the Crosstown restaurant will be more polished, refined. It will be located at the front of the building near the Cleveland entrance. They hope to have it open in about 8 months.
Nicholson considers Erling Jensen as sort of a father figure. It was Jenseon who hooked him up with Glenn Hays of Cafe 1912. Jensen thinks of Glenn as his own father figure.
As for what Jensen thinks of the ramen, Nicholson says he loves it and has given Lucky Cat his blessing.