Bao Chow opened in the fall of 2013 and has been serving up bao, satays, salad and limeade to Missoulians at Caras Park events, breweries, community parties and fundraisers.
We decided to open a food cart in Missoula because it was a lower start up than a restaurant and we could use our savings. We’ve been able to grow this far without needing financing and are debt free, which is exactly why we wanted to start small.
We bought a cart and fabricated it to what we needed, or what we thought we needed. Once we opened, we outgrew the cart pretty quickly and had to use a larger set up for a lot of our events. We’ve grown from a small food cart doing two events a week to a full time vendor at six or more weekly events around town. Family helped us out during the busy weeks- mom peeled carrots, my niece washed dishes. They’ve been very supportive and helpful for us.
Bao Chow’s sales have tripled from 2014 and we sell over 1,000 bao and satays a week, but being a mobile vendor limits our menu and presence in town. We are ready to take Bao Chow to the next step: a restaurant in downtown Missoula.
We’ve utilized a lot of our resources and have been putting our profits into obtaining all the kitchen equipment we need for a full restaurant. Now we are only 20,000 dollars away from making a restaurant reality.
With the expansion into a restaurant, we can offer a larger menu with more variety. We can use more local foods and support more local farmers and ranchers in addition to the local green thumbs we currently use. Instead of just steamed buns, we can also offer pan-fried, baked and open-faced buns. We will also be introducing ramen, sesame balls, yakitori, salads and desserts.
WHAT ARE BAO?
Bao are steamed buns with a filling on the inside. Originating in China, they are popular as dim sum and can now be found in many different cultures and regions. There are many names for bao depending on the region you are in- baozi, humbow, pau, manapua. We serve the popular Cantonese filling char siu pork.
Originating in China, Ramen has become the most recognized dish in all of Japan. It is the most widely spread dish in the world, with up to 200,000 ramen shops in Japan alone. We want to bring ramen to Missoula. Using as many local ingredients as possible, we will offer several different types of ramen including a saporo style miso broth with bean sprouts and a beef ramen as a regional specialty.
SIDES AND SWEET BITES
In addition to bao and ramen, we will also offer sides like beef satay and yakitori, a Japanese skewered chicken, pot stickers, kimchi, salads and rice.
For sweet bites, we will have red bean paste, or anko bao, custard buns, and bao donuts in spiced sugar or with a fruit curd.
WHAT DO WE NEED $20,000 FOR?
We need 20,000 dollars for:
- dishwashing equipment (triple sink, dish machine , prep and dump sinks)
- front of house furniture and serviceware (tables, chairs, bussing stations, plates, silverware)
- signage (for the front of the building and menus inside)
- POS system
- walk-in refrigerator
We also have stretch goals to offer more as a restaurant. If we reach 25,000 dollars, we will also have a walk-up window for late night service and to-go orders. For 30,000 dollars, we will offer delivery and for 40,000 we will make our own ramen and offer bao and ramen cooking classes. If we reach this goal, we will also offer a free class twice a year.