CARLSBAD, Calif. — If you think Godzilla is a monster, you should try battling COVID and cancer. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Carlsbad to GONZO Ramen where I met a Navy family that is unsinkable. When you step inside GONZO Ramen, you immerse yourself into Mika Murphy's life changing idea. "I'm Mika," said Mika Murphy with a big smile. A few years ago, Mika was eating at a pizza place and announced Carlsbad needed good ramen. "Yeah, exactly," said Mika who grew up in Japan but fell in love with US Navy Sailor. "I'm Jaime," said Jamison Murphy.
For eight years, they raised their three sons in Okinawa. "I'm Jake," said Jake Murphy. "I'm Jeff," said Jeff Murphy. "I'm Justin," said Justin Murphy. This powerhouse family of five opened GONZO in 2020; first came COVID, then came cancer. "I had to get chemo and radiation treatment," said Jaime. "It was a lot of moving parts."
The Murphy's invested everything and even sold their home to open GONZO in March 2020, just days before the entire restaurant industry, and world, shut down. Due to lack of business history, the Murphy's were unable to receive any assistance or grants during the pandemic until the California Restaurant Foundation's Resilience Fund program stepped in.
The veteran-owned business needed a nudge. "What a story this is I mean for them to sell their house for them to invest everything they have here and then to succeed," said Josh Henderson with Wells Fargo. The company helps fund the California Restaurant Foundation. The non-profit organization helps entrepreneurs with financial assistance and business support services. "It's about accomplishing their dreams as we saw with the family here and that is something at Wells Fargo and the California Restaurant Association absolutely supports," said Josh.
The Resilience Fund has given nearly two million dollars to hundreds of restaurants. GONZO used their money to buy an energy efficient grill. "Yeah, it helped a lot, it helps make our pork chashu which we make from scratch every day," said Justin. Their ramen takes 8 hours to make, and it is fantastic.
As for the name GONZO? "The dictionary definition is crazy or bizarre," said Justin. Crazy to open during COVID; Bizarre to slurp ramen with Godzilla. The monster's picture is plastered on numerous posters throughout the highly decorated restaurant.
"It's GONZO mania, bigger than the Beatles," said Justin. All powered by the love of a family on a military salary. "We didn't come from money or anything like that we just went all in for the restaurant," said Jaime The family is dedicated to serving a ramen that tastes just like moms.
In March, the California Restaurant Foundation (CRF) opened applications for its second Restaurants Care Resilience Fund, a $1.5 million fund financed by California’s energy companies and Wells Fargo. Fifty restaurants in SDG&E’s coverage area were selected to receive this business-saving grant. There were 470 total grant recipients across California. A list of the recipients can be found at www.restaurantscare.org/resilience. The $3,000 grants can be used for equipment upgrades and employee retention bonuses. The year-long support services from Wells Fargo provide restaurant owners with resources to enhance and streamline their business, including monthly Zoom trainings with fellow grant recipients and a complimentary membership to the California Restaurant Association. For more information about the California Restaurant Foundation, Restaurants Care, or the Resilience Fund, please visit www.restaurantscare.org.
Jaime and Mika Murphy married 26 years ago. Mika brought recipes and flavors from her hometown in Japan straight to Carlsbad. For more information about GONZO Ramen click here.