Hawkers Asian Street Fare is targeting mid-November for its opening in Bethesda Row, the Florida-based chain’s CEO told Bethesda Beat on Monday.
Hawkers CEO and co-founder Kaleb Harrell said in an interview Monday that the restaurant is nearing the end of construction and will soon start the hiring process.
“We’re just doing the finishing work and the furniture and a few pictures,” Harrell said of the construction.
Harrell said the Bethesda restaurant is searching for one or two sous chefs. According to the company’s website, the Bethesda location posted job advertisements on Aug. 11 for a sous chef position and an assistant general manager position.
Harrell said that within 30 days, Hawkers will start hiring hourly workers for the Bethesda restaurant. Most Hawkers locations, he said, hire about 100 hourly employees.
Employee training, he said, will start in mid-October — about a month before the restaurant is scheduled to open.
Harrell said that at the beginning of the pandemic, the company’s sales were down 70% from the same point in 2019, but as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in some states, and restaurants have reopened, sales have started to bounce back.
Currently, he said, sales are down about 25% from a year ago.
Harrell said that barring another spike in cases, he thinks the Bethesda restaurant will open on its current timeline.
“Obviously, something could happen, but I would say pending an alarming shift, we’re dialed in on that date. The only thing that would hold us up at this point would be if we felt the safety of our guests and employees was compromised,” he said.
Harrell said that as a safety precaution, Hawkers has installed transparent plexiglass partitions between tables in its restaurants, in addition to maintaining adequate social distancing.
When Hawkers opens, it will have a bar in the middle of the restaurant, Harrell said, and there will be both indoor and outdoor seating. Restaurants in Montgomery County may currently seat at 50% capacity indoors under phase 2 of the reopening plan.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org