You may know the husband and wife team Jacques and Christine Driscoll and chef Les Molnar as the brains behind the incredibly popular slider restaurant, Green Dot Stables (2200 W Lafayette Blvd). This trio has brought their second collaboration, Johnny Noodle King (2601 W. Fort Street), just a few blocks away from their first. The ramen noodle shop, which opened in September, is serving up a small and creative menu of Japanese delicacies with a Detroit twist. Traditional ramen preparations share the menu with inventive twists like the “Southwest Bowl,” inspired by the area’s Mexican heritage. This dish features tripe, pickled tomatillos, Fresno chili and cilantro. The small drink list is a unique treat which showcases Japanese beers, sake and a special whiskey collaboration with nearby Corktown distillery, Two James. Opportunity Detroit interviewed the Driscolls about their businesses, their love for Detroit, and about bringing something new to the Detroit dining scene.
OD: Why Detroit?
JCD: We chose Detroit because it is our home! We’ve been here almost four years now, which is hard to believe … The story of how we came here is kind of old hat, but the story of why we stay is what’s important. We’re planting roots here and can’t imagine growing our life together as a family anywhere else, so why not continue to contribute to the growing food culture in Detroit? We have both missed the abundance of Asian food on the west coast since returning to Michigan. Noodles were an obvious choice for us, simply out of the selfish desire to have noodles in the immediate vicinity of our home in southwest (Detroit).
OD: How is starting and owning a business in Detroit unique? What has been the most rewarding part of your experience with the restaurant so far?
JCD: The small business landscape in Detroit is lovely, the relationships between owners are unlike any we have witnessed, (and) there’s a symbiosis that is an invaluable benefit to operating in our city. Detroiters are attentive and receptive to the growth of small businesses … combined with (a) sincere curiosity about the new businesses themselves. An anticipatory buzz for commercial growth ensues that is almost tangible, but certainly contagious, and it is an honor to be part of that circle. It keeps us on our toes, and that’s a good thing.
OD: What do you hope customers will feel after visiting the restaurant?
JCD: Our hope is that people will leave Johnny’s feeling like they’ve had a new experience in the city, one that maybe they are surprised to find themselves enjoying … That there will be a feeling of satisfaction beyond satiating hunger, but (of satiating) a desire to try something new, to discover a new style of food and maybe even to evoke a desire to want to explore new foods and experiences.