Arlington Heights Japanese restaurant expanding to handle increased Mitsuwa package business

A Japanese restaurant on the south end of Arlington Heights plans to grow its operations for the preparation and packaging of rice bowls, sushi rolls and other food that’s delivered daily to the nearby Mitsuwa Marketplace.

Ramen USA, which opened at the height of the pandemic in 2020 as a primarily takeout restaurant at 932 W. Algonquin Road, already expanded last year into a neighboring unit of the Surrey Ridge Shopping Center.

On Monday night, village trustees approved a land use variation for expansion into another adjoining retail unit.

Kristie Toondarack, Ramen USA’s operations manager, said the business has seen rapid growth in packaging products for Mitsuwa, which is a mile away and needs more space to expand those operations.

“It’s been quite a journey — especially 2020 was the COVID time — and I’m excited for what the future holds especially as (the owner) expands his business,” Toondarack said.

The business plans to tear down walls and remodel the interior for expanded food preparation, packaging and storage. The storefront at 926 W. Algonquin, a former State Farm office, will be renovated and built out with hand sinks, prep tables, refrigerators, appliances and wire shelving.

Ramen USA makes rice bowls, sushi rolls, vegetables, pasta and burgers for sale at Mitsuwa. Loading and delivery occurs between 8:45 and 11 a.m. daily; the restaurant opens at noon.

As a condition of approval, the village board said the business must keep its restaurant in operation in order for the adjoining 1,616-square-foot wholesale production facility to be open. Typically, a wholesale operation would only be allowed in an area zoned for manufacturing, not retail.

Village officials said parking surveys show there is sufficient parking to support the expanded operation. There are two delivery vehicles, but neither are kept on-site overnight.

The business has 10 employees, including four who are responsible for food production and processing.

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