Asian restaurant Hawkers plans to open in Bethesda Row

Hawkers plans to open in Bethesda Row next week

Dining room is full of neon signs to reflect the bustle of an Asian street

| Published:

Photos by Dan Schere

The Asian restaurant Hawkers is planning to open next week in Bethesda Row.

Hawkers specializes in Asian small plates such as chicken dumplings, wontons, beef and chicken skewers and coconut shrimp. There are also lighter vegetable-based dishes, such as green papaya and shrimp salad, edamame and five-spice green beans.

Most menu items are between $5 and $10, according to the website.

Hawkers announced in April 2019 that it would be opening its first Washington, D.C., area location in Bethesda. Its other locations are in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The restaurant chain is named after a term used for food vendors in southeast Asia.

The Bethesda restaurant, like the other Hawkers locations, contains a number of neon signs bearing various messages and symbols.

During a tour of the Bethesda restaurant on Monday, Hawkers Area Director of Operations Jamie Tokes explained that the neon signs in the dining room are meant to foster the feel of an Asian street lined with vendors.

“The streets of Asia are very loud. There’s a lot of neons, a lot of bright colors, a lot of music. And that’s what our dining room reflects,” he said.

One neon sign reads “Up all night to get roti,” which refers to Roti Canai, a type of flatbread served with curry sauce. Tokes said the sign is a takeoff on the lyric “Up all night to get lucky” in the song “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.

When customers walk in, they will immediately see the bar in the center of the seating area. As customers walk to the left, there is additional seating facing the kitchen, which is visible to the public.

Hawkers also has outdoor tables and chairs, with some wooden benches containing pillows for people to lounge.

Hawkers spokeswoman Esther McIlvain wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat that the restaurant can normally seat 107 inside and 40 outside.

On Tuesday, the County Council voted to reduce indoor capacity for restaurants from 50% to 25% due to spikes in coronavirus cases.

CEO and co-founder Kaleb Harrell told Bethesda Beat in an interview on Monday that the restaurant plans to open on Monday of next week. He said the hours probably will be 11 a.m. to midnight every day, but it might change depending on actions the county takes in the interim, he said.

McIlvain wrote that the Bethesda location is hiring another five to seven people for the positions of line cook, server and takeout.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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