Ramen Restaurant, Ceramics Studio and Art Gallery open for business in Anchorage while grilling

Open and close it a series in progress lobserving the arrivals and departures of businesses in south-central Alaska. If you know of opening or closing a business in the area, send a message to journalist Alex DeMarban at [email protected] with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


Kami Ramen: Three Malaysian friends opened this ramen restaurant in Spenard last month.

The menu at 3807 Spenard Road, west of Minnesota Drive, features Japanese ramen with Malaysian and other influences. Kami Ramen serves vegetarian and gluten-free ramen, along with meat dishes.

Tonkotsu ramen, with pork bones cooked overnight for soup, “is the backbone of the restaurant,” said Jiahui Sim.

She is one of two co-owners who started in Alaska through the J-1 visa cultural exchange program, which brings foreign students here, usually to work in tourism and fisheries.

Sim was a J-1 worker for Starbucks at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport more than a decade ago. A few years later, she received a green card and moved to Alaska. She recruited her friend Chiiwen Choo to Alaska after they met through the program, and he, too, is now an Alaska resident.

They teamed up with Leon Chew, a former cruise chef and North Slope oil company. Chew, the third co-owner, is now a technician testing goods for oil companies.

Before the pandemic struck, they opened Kami Ramen as a pop-up company for a few weeks from a small space in Midtown where a Malaysian bakery used to operate.

“The job was good, like super good,” Sim said.

Then he hit COVID-19. They have stopped their expansion plans – so far.

Kami means “we” in Malay, Sim said. Establishing a restaurant was a family affair, along with spouses, relatives and friends.

“It’s like‘ we ’are doing this,” she said.

The restaurant is open five days a week, for now on Sundays and Mondays.

The Cove Studio & Boutique: Two longtime friends and a former football star at West Anchorage High School opened this art studio in downtown Anchorage last month.

Bret Roberts was the quarterback of their final year in 1992 before becoming a film actor, musician, poet and painter. During the pandemic, he left Europe and returned to Anchorage to be with his parents.

Joel Loosli was a wide receiver. He became a graphic artist with his own clothing line on the theme of Alaska. He lost his job as a sales manager at Truckwell in Alaska last fall, just before the closure of the work truck plant.

During the pandemic, two friends dreamed of owning an art studio. The opportunity fell on their lap: an Anchorage entrepreneur who liked their art asked if they wanted to share office space at Peterson Tower at 510 L St., near Simon and Seafort’s.

Their shop window was born. “The universe somehow conspired to make that happen,” Loosli said.

They are now collaborating on the arts. Loosli photographs Roberts ’paintings, and the designs are used on handbags, pillows and clothing.

“Never in a million years would any of us (not) think that 25, 30 years after playing football together, we will create art together,” Loosli said. “Going from athletes to fashion designers – it was a cool trip.”

Roberts said he started painting after he stopped drinking about ten years ago. That was important in his recovery, he said. “After I sobered up, I thought life was over,” he said. “But then I realized my life started when I stopped drinking.”

The boutique is open to the public on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., by appointment.

Turnagain ceramics: Max Kubitz and Evan Fried are opening this shared pottery space at 1343 G St., on the former Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop site.

They became acquainted with ceramics about 15 years ago while teaching ceramics at West Anchorage High School. Old friends and high school classmates didn’t see each other for a few years when they ran into each other five years ago at a ceramic studio in San Francisco.

During the pandemic, they returned to Alaska. Kubitz now works at the Southcentral Foundation as a pediatric dentist, and Fried worked remotely for a California technology company.

Last year, while skating together at Westchester Lagoon, they decided to open a studio.

Turnagain Ceramics has 16 pottery wheels, plus kilns and warehouses. The studio offers courses, memberships and commission-based sales for members at ANC Market Social, an open-air market in the city center starting May 22nd.

Registration for classes beginning May 13 is available at turnagainceramics.com. The doors will be open to the public from May 23, seven days a week.

coffee gossip: Geochemical consultant Birgit Hagedorn started this organic café in the city center because she wanted to spend more time with people after the isolation of the pandemic.

Kaffee Klatsch – in the Skyline building at 508 W. Second Ave., north of Hilton Anchorage – serves German pastries, lattes and coffee. It also sells chai teas and mushroom drinks. Mushroom powder boosts immunity, energy and memory, she said.

Kaffee klatsch is a social gathering with coffee in Germany, where she is from, she said.

Hagedorn said she was teaching tai chi in the building when she saw the potential in the unused reception in the lobby.

She had a contractor to extend the plumbing and electricity to the table. She bought an espresso machine and added shelves and seats to launch Kaffee Klatsch.

The cafe is trying to buy only local produce, Hagedorn said. Kaffee Klatsch is closed on Mondays.

The Pretty Parlor Flow Dry Bar: Hair stylist Jessica Bryant Walton wanted a space where friends could style their hair together.

In February, she opened this salon at 2932 C St., on the corner of Benson Boulevard and C, in the same building where the Liberty Tax Service employed dancers with street signs during the tax season.

Walton provides services such as formal grooming and dressing for individuals and groups preparing for events such as prom nights. The space is available for private parties.

“It’s like a girl’s date. That way I can close the space and have a private party with snacks and wine, ”she said.

The beautiful salon is closed on Sundays.

Lexington Salon and Spa: This store opened in February in downtown Anchorage at 415 W. Fifth Ave.

“It’s a full-service day spa with body treatments, massages, waxing, facials, hair styling, sunscreen – we do it all,” said owner Sarah Smith.

The salon is closed on Sundays. It is located in the space once occupied by Escape Salon and Spa.

Birch and alder: This espresso cafe and bakery opened in early March, about 25 minutes south of Anchorage in India.

It offers pastries, breakfast, sandwiches and locally produced drinks, such as Black Cup coffee. It is open five days a week and closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, said owner Reuben Gerber, a former chef at Vrance’s Nest at the Captain Cook Hotel.

Far North Health Services: This mobile clinic offers outpatient physical and occupational therapy at homes in Anchorage and surrounding areas. It also offers speech therapy and the services of a registered dietitian. The wheeled clinic promotes patient independence and reduces the burden on caregivers as patients move to life at home, in auxiliary housing facilities or at Brother Francis ’shelter, said Erin McCurdy, co-owner and physiotherapist.

Little Loon Pediatric Therapy: This pediatric therapy clinic in Wasilla focuses on speech and feeding problems related to bound oral tissues, such as tongue or lip binding, and other issues related to mouth and face movements, such as mouth breathing.

Speech therapist Kayla Head opened the office after she had trouble feeding her first child born a few years ago.

“Alaska doesn’t have a good professional network set up for kids with these struggles,” she said in an email. “Our own journey is what inspired me to learn and train as much as possible.”

The clinic is located at N. Knik 501.


Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ in Anchorage: After nine years of operation, this facility in Anchorage closed last weekend.

The company could not find enough employees to manage its two restaurants, said Steven Owens, a chef for the job. So they closed the one along the Old Seward Highway, near the New Sagaya Midtown Market, he said. Reduced business activity during the closure due to COVID-19 also harmed the company, he said.

Turnagain Arm Pit will continue to operate its original Indian restaurant along the Seward Highway about 25 minutes south of Anchorage, he said.

“If you can’t find enough employees to run two locations, you have to be somewhere,” Owens said.

Businesses in Alaska continue to report challenges in finding enough staff as tourists begin to return. The pandemic led to record layoffs and closures, and many workers left their previous jobs.

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