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    Eat & Swig

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    "Raman" -tic Aspirations

    Image courtesy of Louisvillenoms

    Louisville needed ramen. In this article from the Courier-Journal on “what’s missing in Louisville," which ran in September of 2014, Chefs Ryan Rogers of Feast BBQ, Larry Rice of El Camino, and Dallas McGarity of Marketplace all agreed: ramen. Louisville needed ramen. In this thread of LouisvilleHotBytes, ramen was called for. over and over. So when broke the news in October of 2014 that Dustin Staggers and Griffin Paulin were opening a ramen and dumplings shop in the Highlands, there was general rejoicing.

    And after only seven-ish months, that rejoicing is over. As of June 6, 2015 (technically of June 7, since Rumplings ran open into the wee hours of the morning), Rumplings has served their last bowl at their current location.

    And that was the plan all along.

    Incubated Restaurants


    Image courtesy of Andrew Cenci

    “Saturday was our last night at Rumplings,” Chef and Owner Griffin Paulin confirmed today. “It was always kind of the plan to switch the concepts up in there.”

    Owner Dustin Staggers echoes this sentiment. “We’ve been planning this from the start. We always planned to just rotate restaurants in and out of the space, and if one truly works economically well for us, we’d maintain it.”

    Image of Staggers and Paulin courtesy of Ten Tables

    Staggers says the space, at 2009 Highland Avenue (which used to house Baby D’s Bagel & Deli) initially appealed to him as a “restaurant incubator.”

    “I have a lot of concepts, ideas for opening restaurants, and a lot of them are small." Staggers explains."A lot of the appeal is that the rent and the space are conducive to quick change. Not necessarily because it [Rumplings] didn’t work, but because we want to try out different concepts to see how best they work. To gauge interest.”

    So why not make this “incubation” idea/trial period public in the case of Rumplings? Staggers says, “The people that needed to know” knew about his incubating restaurant plan of rotation. And if Rumplings had been wildly successful, it would have been allowed to hatch and grow in the space. Staggers admits, “It [Rumplings] made money. But we’re looking for something replicable. We’re looking for something that could be franchise -able or move to some different places in town. We’re looking for something that’s a SMASH. I’m a business person like anybody else.”

    Image of Griffin Paulin courtesy of Ten Tables

    Griffin Paulin is nostalgic, but happy about the last service at Rumplings this past Saturday night. “It was more of a celebration really, than anything, we had a lot of fun, we had a good run – not a long one, but a good one. The last shift was the busiest shift we’ve ever had. We ran out of food at like two in the morning. It was a lot of fun, and we’re all sort of looking to do new things.”

    Paulin’s planned “new things” are nebulous at the moment, “I’ve had a few things fall into my lap over the past couple of days…I just want to kind of find a place where I can cook whatever I want, and make a good living, and hang out with my fam,” he says. Paulin will continue to work with Staggers and Morris at Ten Tables.

    Image courtesy of Eat Love Louisville

    There was talk of opening a Rumplings Food Truck, but according to Paulin, “Even if I do the food truck, it wouldn’t be a Rumplings truck. I may do Rumplings again at some point, but I don’t have any plans to do that right now. I’m kind of all over the place, so the food trucks makes a lot of sense for me. We were talking about doing a truck with a small set menu that we always have, and rotating concepts all the time.”

    And doesn’t that sound a little familiar? A food truck that tries out different, rotating concepts, “incubating” each one to see what sticks?


    Slurp on at Rumpfest

    Image courtesy of Rumpfest

    The good news for Rumplings fans is: RumpFest is still on. RumpFest is a block party originally scheduled to occur Memorial Day weekend, but was canceled because for reasons of “beaurocracy” regarding permits. RumpFest has been rescheduled to June 28, and it looks like that will be the last time to reliably partake of some of your favorite Rumplings fare.

    There will also be food available at RumpFest from the new concept going into 2009 Highland Avenue, a concept Dustin Staggers and Eric Morris are calling “Epic Sammich Co.” To read more about their plans for this restaurant, including how they plan to open barely ten days after Rumplings’ last service check out all the details here! 

    Cover image courtesy of LouisvilleNoms

    Elizabeth Myers's picture

    About Elizabeth Myers

    Big fan of bacon and bourbon, deep fried anything, sweet tea and sweet nothings.

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