ZUBU in Kerrisdale, Metrotown, Park Royal and Olympic Village is the ultimate “munch, crunch, slurp” experience, offering up a variety of ramen options and an eclectic menu fuelled by fun-filled, youthful energy. When the pandemic changed the restaurant landscape for nearly two years, ZUBU didn’t flinch. Instead, owner Tim Yu rebranded in 2020 and opened a new location.
Yu recalls the decision to take on Japanese ramen as a new business venture six years ago when it became clear that a good ramen store would be a shining spot in Kerrisdale.
“Back then, we had to travel all the way downtown and line up for an hour just for a bowl of ramen,” he says. “Although the food itself was not pricey, the whole idea of having ramen for dinner was considered a luxury.”
After working with an established franchise for five years, Yu knew that what he wanted to deliver to customers was different from what big corporations do, and so he ended the contract and started the ZUBU brand.
“I wanted to better serve our communities with fresh, local products made from scratch,” Yu says. “Our mission statement is to ‘serve up a better tomorrow,’ and we strive to continue giving back while serving our guests food to enjoy time and time again.”
Pivoting was essential to expanding the business, and that meant being open to new ways to build the restaurant’s revenue stream. In fact, embracing third party deliveries helped ZUBU survive during the lockdown, and Yu’s relationship with SkipTheDishes—at ZUBU’s four locations and his other business venture, nana’s green tea—has become an essential aspect of the businesses.
“Third party delivery is a brilliant idea,” Yu says. “Not only does it increase our sales volume, but it also helps us reach out to those who have not yet had a chance to try our food.”
Delivery services now contribute 40-50% of ZUBU’s total revenue, adding an important income stream to the already thriving restaurants.
“Skip has been tremendous to work with, especially throughout the pandemic year when dining-in restrictions were in place,” Yu says. “We could not have survived without third party deliveries, and I am very grateful to have Skip in town.”
Moving forward, Yu feels third party delivery has the potential to become a main source of income for the restaurants.
“Throughout last year, third parties were definitely our main source of income and kind of the only way to successfully do business,” Yu says. “As the restrictions ease, more and more people are coming to dine in; however, I’d still identify delivery sales as one of the main sources of income. I believe the future still lies in ‘convenience’ more than ‘experience’.”