A new ghost kitchen has opened in northern Scottsdale, boasting Asian-inspired cuisine and a “give ramen a rest” attitude.
Operating out of the first and original Wildflower location – the Sonora Village restaurant – NOBANA embraces Wildflower Chef Chris Mayo’s love of Asian flavors, offering flavor-packed bone broth and gluten-free noodle bowls, salads and wraps.
It’s a concept that Wildflower founder and owner Louis Basile has had in the works before the pandemic began but that experienced a major evolution in response to it.
“We’re celebrating our 25th year of being in business here in Arizona, and we had been thinking pre-pandemic about what items we could add to the menu to keep it fresh,” Basile explained.
“We were thinking about doing broth bowls as something for Wildflower initially and then, of course, the pandemic turned everyone’s world around.”
As part of Wildflower’s pandemic pivot, the 25-year-old locally owned and operated Arizona restaurant concept scaled back its well-rounded, robust menu.
They weren’t as busy and they needed to simplify the menu to ensure their ingredients continued to be fresh and high-quality.
But the broth bowls were not forgotten.
Instead, Basile decided to move forward with a ghost kitchen to test a new concept, NOBANA, which is Japanese for “wildflower.”
“I’ve been working in the hospitality business since I was 5, basically, and this is just an incredible way to test ideas,” Basile said of moving forward with a ghost kitchen versus a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“Adding into Wildflower, we could have probably just added two or three broth bowls. However, to have a ghost brand or a virtual brand, we felt we needed a few more offerings. So, we developed a few more bowls, we developed some salads, and we developed some wraps and a few desserts,” Basile continued.
NOBANA launched in early January and has since received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from guests, Basile said.
Currently, NOBANA’s most popular menu items include the Vietnamese pho, the red curry coconut bowl, the veggie shoyu bowl, and the chewy coconut bites.
“That is the sweet spot of the restaurant business: How can I make something that’s great, compelling, craveable, and also make it healthy for you?” Basile said of the menu, which also boasts salads like the Thai crunch salad and spicy soba noodle salad.
While NOBANA is currently only available at the Sonora Village Wildflower location, serving solely the northern Scottsdale area, there are plans to expand to additional Wildflower locations around the Valley later this year.
As for eventually becoming a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Basile said it all depends on diners’ wants, needs and behaviors in a post-pandemic world.
“I think things will progressively get better, so then the question remains: What is the consumer looking for? Do we return to a ‘pre-pandemic normal’? Have there really been shifts in consumer behavior that are ingrained now and don’t change? And that... drives decisions for me and for Wildflower about, ‘What do you do next?’”
NOBANA is currently available for delivery via DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates.
Wildflower restaurants boasts a total of 16 locations throughout the state.
“At Wildflower, we have always taken an unexpected, elevated and thoughtful approach to the guest experience,” he said.
“As we’ve continued to grow and innovate, launching a new venture was a natural progression for us and we are excited to deliver the new flavors of NOBANA with the same level of quality and value our guests love about Wildflower.”