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Ramen eatery to open in Old Town Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS — A budding Vermont-based chain of ramen restaurants that is targeting college towns has chosen Fort Collins as its third location and second in Colorado.

Gaku Ramen will open July 19 at 223 Linden St. in Old Town Fort Collins, said Kelley Jones, one of the chain’s managing partners. That location had most recently been the site of Sushi Plus.

“We’ve had a degree of success in Boulder, and the Fort Collins location was just ideal for us,” Jones said. “It checked all the boxes of what we look for when we go into a space.”

Jones said the restaurant initially would be open for dinner only during its first weekend, but would open for lunch and dinner the week of July 24.

A Gaku Ramen location typically employs 36 people, including management, Jones said.

“Gaku” roughly translates as “learning” or “education,” According to its website, “Of course, everyone is welcome at Gaku Ramen. But Gaku Ramen is for amazing towns and cities that draw on college and university students for their character, energy and vibrancy.”

The first Gaku Ramen opened in 2016 in Burlington, Vermont, home to the University of Vermont. The second opened in 2019 at 1119 13th St. on The Hill in Boulder, but closed soon afterward because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It relocated to 1035 Pearl St., Suite 102, on the Pearl Street Mall, where it opened in May 2022.

What makes Gaku Ramen’s offerings unique, Jones said, are that they’re authentic, the same dishes that would be found in Tokyo, and not Americanized fusion. Three types of ramen broth are on the menu: Tonkatsu, with a pork-bone base; Miso, with a base of miso paste; and Shoyu, with a soy base. Salads and Japanese liquors are also featured.

According to its website, Gaku Ramen was started by Dartmouth graduates Ryan Goldstein and David Stone along with Middlebury College grad Michael March. Goldstein had studied Japanese and Japanese history for more than 20 years, currently lives in Tokyo, and is an owner of Q Sushi in Los Angeles. March has studied Japanese and Chinese and has lived in various cities in Asia, and Stone is a surgeon at Dartmouth University who lives in Vermont.

While living in Tokyo, Goldstein and March talked about how great it would have been to have had a real ramen restaurant where they went to college. Goldstein introduced March to Stone, and the three decided to pursue the dream.

“We had two ramen masters out of Tokyo who trained our team,” Jones said. “We had to hire a translator out of the University of Vermont, and she ended up joining us.”

Source: BizWest