THE GAKU NAME AND VISION
The genesis of the restaurant was our vision to bring delicious, real ramen to college students and college towns. The name tries to capture that inspiration. The character “学” can be generally translated as “learning” or “education” or “study,” and is often read as “gaku” (in Japanese, the same character may be read different ways depending on how it is used and whether and how it is combined with other characters). As a verb, it means “to learn or study” (学ぶ, manabu). But it is also combined with other characters to create the words “student” (学生, gakusei) and ”college” (大学, daigaku). 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. Burlington and Boulder are emblematic of this ethos.
THE GAKU RAMEN STORY
Gaku Ramen (学ラーメン) was conceived of by three friends (Ryan Goldstein, Michael March and David Stone) who wanted to combine their passion for ramen with their love of friendly college towns. Ryan and David are Dartmouth graduates (class of ’93), who were friends from their first day on campus. Michael is a Middlebury graduate (class of ‘77), and he and Ryan have been friends for years as well.
Ryan has studied Japanese and Japanese history for over 20 years, and currently lives in Tokyo. He Is also an owner of the highly-praised Q Sushi in Los Angeles. Michael has studied Japanese and Chinese and has lived in various cities in his more than 30 years in Asia. David is a surgeon at Dartmouth, and lives in Vermont.
Ryan and Michael were both living in Tokyo and often thought about how great it would have been to have had a real ramen restaurant where they went to college. They talked for years about opening such restaurants in vibrant college towns like the ones they lived in accessible to the college students they thought would enjoy real ramen. But it was mostly just talk.
Out of the blue, David emailed Ryan and asked if he had ever thought of bringing authentic ramen to the U.S. and, if he had, suggested opening a restaurant with him close to where he lived in Vermont. In that same email, David echoed the conversations Ryan and Michael had, saying how great it would have been to have had a ramen restaurant to frequent during their college days. This was too coincidental. Ryan forwarded the email to Michael, introduced him to David, and the three decided that the time to pursue the dream had come. Serendipity!
The flagship Gaku Ramen opened in Burlington, Vermont in June 2016. The second restaurant, like Gaku Ramen Burlington with a full bar and outdoor seating (with a Rocky Mountain view) opened in April 2019 in Boulder, Colorado. This is just the beginning of the Gaku Ramen story.
Drop us a line at one of our three locations. We look forward to hearing from you!