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Greater Tulsa Reporter


‘StartUp’ Winner Launching Spring Noodles at Downtown Lambrusco'z

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

FOOD PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Bruce, left, owner of Lambrusco’z, stands with Cecilia Wessinger, creator of Spring Noodles, in Lambrusco’z, 114 S. Detroit Ave., in downtown Tulsa. In May, Wessinger will begin selling her customizable noodle bowls at the downtown deli.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


Since winning the StartUp Series’ food and retail live pitch competition in 2016, Cecilia Wessinger, creator of Spring Noodles, is preparing to see her food concept become a reality.

Wessinger’s road to Spring Noodles has been long and varied with her love of food nurtured from an early age, growing up in New York in a family of restaurant owners. Because of that, she spent her early years working in her family’s restaurants, which started her in the industry, and she continued in it for many years.

Over the years, her idea for Spring Noodles began to form. “Every so often, I would pull the idea out and make some changes,” she says. “I would ask myself, ‘what would my brand look like?’”

Wessinger has always been drawn to healthy, high quality, unprocessed food and liked the idea of adding an element of her Asian heritage to her concept. Wessinger was born in Japan but is of Taiwanese descent.

“Asia is an interesting continent with a wide range of flavors and types of noodles,” she says.

Her idea for Spring Noodles remained an idea as she moved around the country with her husband and children, eventually ending up in Tulsa.

In 2015, Wessinger left her job in the travel industry, asking herself what was next.
“I took time to focus on what’s important,” she says, “and that answer included food,” and Spring Noodles came back to her mind.

She, next, delved into Tulsa’s food and entrepreneurial scenes, attending 1 Million Cups meetings at 36 Degrees North and nurturing relationships with local chefs, including Miranda Kaiser, Justin Thompson, Michelle Donaldson and Mike Bausch.

At the beginning of 2016, she joined the inaugural development class of Kitchen 66.

In July, she participated in and won the StartUp Series’ food and retail live pitch competition, which garnered her $2,500, plus other prizes.

It was then that she began looking for restaurant space, and her path crossed with Lambrusco’z Owner Nancy Bruce. Wessinger had heard that Bruce might consider sharing some of her deli’s space in downtown Tulsa.

Bruce was intrigued by Wessinger and Spring Noodles for a number of reasons.

For one, since designing her downtown space, Bruce had hoped to see her deli turn into a small food market of sorts, a concept found around the country, featuring multiple food vendors under one roof, Bruce says.

Bruce was also drawn to Wessinger’s interest in locally-sourced, seasonal, healthy ingredients and dishes.

“Lambrusco’z is right in line with my philosophy: creating good food from good ingredients,” says Messenger.

Bruce agreed to allow Wessinger to use her kitchen to conduct taste testings with the plan to eventually add Spring Noodles to Lambrusco’z daily offerings.

“There will be noodles on Lambrusco’z menu in the coming weeks,” promises Messenger.

She and Bruce plan to make sure the noodle concept is up and running by the time Mayfest and the Blue Dome Arts Festival arrive in mid-May.

Spring Noodles will offer customizable noodle bowls featuring various broths, noodles and other ingredients that customers can tailor to their preferences.

While the noodle bowls will be served quickly, Wessinger cringes at defining her food as “fast food.”

“We are slow food served quickly,” she says. “This will be an alternative to fast food, which is expensive and unhealthy, filled with high sodium and low-quality ingredients.”

Spring Noodles will incorporate seasonal produce and meats from local farmers, including free-range chicken from a farm in Adair.

The noodle bowl combinations are endless, Wessinger continues.

However, because so many combination offerings can be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with noodle bowls, Wessinger plans to first offer a few bowls made up of ingredients pre-determined by Wessinger. This will allow her time to learn and gauge what customers respond to and also to educate her customers about the wide world of noodles.

“Noodles are the original fast food, go-to dish,” she says.

However, Wessinger realizes that noodles are still new in this country and particularly in the midwest.

Even though Tulsa has recently seen two Ramen restaurants open in downtown and is home to a number of Pho restaurants, Wessinger is confident that there is plenty of room in the market for other offerings.

Ramen originated in Japan and Pho in Vietnam, but Asia is a huge country, and there are so many other flavors and noodles on the spectrum, she says.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed into creating just one kind of dish.”

Updated 05-28-2017

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