But when he decided to open a location in Hyattsville, the new development wasn’t yet up-and-coming. Still, he felt it was a good place that was being underserved.
“I remember when I was looking here, people would say, ‘So where is Hyattsville again?'” he recalled in an interview with Hyattsville Wire at tonight’s First Friday event. “Yet it’s just across the D.C. border. It takes like five minutes to get here.”
Shallal says he was shown a lot of facts and figures about the area when he was trying to decide, but the number that stood out was the millions of dollars Prince George’s County residents were spending each year outside the county. He saw Hyattsville as an untapped market.
He said the restaurant has exceeded his expectations, with weekend nights doing good business and a solid brunch crowd on Sundays. He’s even starting to get emails from people who had trouble finding parking, a problem he hopes the new spots on Route 1 will help address.
One surprise has been the number of people coming to the restaurant from outlying areas such as Bowie, Upper Marlboro, Laurel and Greenbelt. Many are looking for something other than chain restaurants and find Hyattsville more convenient than downtown D.C.
Overall, he said Hyattsville has been underestimated.
“I think I have a product that crosses socioeconomic, ages, races, and all kinds of people so it’s going to fit no matter where you put it really,” he added. “But this is a particularly exciting community because it’s so diverse, so multi-everything.”