For Wing Chan, entrepreneurship and operating a restaurant runs in the family.
Her dad was a specialized dim sum chef in Hong Kong and her mom was an entrepreneur. They moved to Edmonton in the late ’80s when her dad was invited to work in Chinatown, and her parents purchased their own restaurant shortly after, but Chan was tired of working for the family business.
“When I was younger, I often said to myself that when I grow up, there’s no way in heck that I’m going to be in the restaurant industry,” says Chan. “At that time, I felt that I needed to be my own person, so I rebelled.”
Her ticket out of the industry was a degree in molecular genetics followed by a move to Montreal to study fashion merchandising. Chan worked for companies like Tommy Hilfiger and Sears until she got a phone call that changed everything.
Her mom called her from the Hong Kong airport, claiming she had eaten the best bowl of ramen. She wanted to bring Japanese ramen to Edmonton in the form of a new restaurant with the help of her family, but Chan wasn’t sold on the idea. “I told her I was going to think about it.” Her mom, though, had already made a significant investment.
Chan and her family opened Nomiya in 2011, and the traditional Japanese ramen restaurant now has three locations. Chan’s family also owns a Chinese takeout called Chan Can Wok.
Chan never thought she’d own three restaurants, but she takes her success in stride and uses it to promote local businesses on Nomiya’s social media platforms.
“We’re growing and it’s lonely to grow by yourself, so in order for us to sustain and grow, we really need to rely on the community,” says Chan. “Giving [a business] a shout out costs me nothing, but it means a lot to them.”