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Athens business owners expand in troubling economy

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In the last election, something the candidates on all levels made clear was that small businesses must be protected in order to fix the country’s economic troubles. In Athens, a small business has found themselves doing quite well.

After opening four restaurants in and around the Columbus area, Xue Qin Chen and friends opened the Ginger Hibachi Kitchen and Yogurt Alley on Court Street this past spring.  After experiencing success at this Japanese sushi style restaurant, they sought to expand their business expertise into something innovative that Athens did not have.

Fusion Noodle Company is their latest investment. Taking the place of O’Betty’s on Union St., they have a prime location for their “fast casual” dining experience.

“We have tried to make the restaurant affordable for students and the Athens community members,” Manager Joe Cockerell said.

They offer a handful of custom-made American, Italian and Chinese noodle dishes. Pick one of the eight dishes, a protein if desired, and then it is cooked it to order in about 15 minutes. They also have several appetizers and salads available.

In the three weeks since it has opened, Fusion Noodle has gotten busier every day as the word spreads about their noodle restaurant.

“We are open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. everyday and are looking into having late night hours Thursday through Saturday as well,” Cockerell said.

All of their sauces are made in store while local produce is used as much as possible to support the local economy.

“People seem to really enjoy our food,” Chen said. “Hopefully we will be able to keep going.”

Ohio University students and Athens residents have seen many restaurants come and go, and have seen some stay around for years.

“I haven’t seen something quite like this come into town in a while,” Jeffery Riverson, an Athens resident, said. “I hope they can keep the business going.”

Chen said surviving economically in this town is simple when you have employees that offer top notch customer service in a timely manner.

Fusion Noodle Company’s website has their full menu with prices while the restaurant continues on in the hopes of getting an online ordering system up and running for customers to order carry out.

“People mistakenly think we only serve Chinese food, but that’s why we are called Fusion Noodle Company,” Chen said. “We have a mix of everything.”

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