The new Canton location of Bonchon, a New York-based chain known for its South Korean-styled fried chicken, quietly opened for the first time Tuesday after months of anticipation.
But despite the 2 p.m. soft opening going unannounced, the restaurant soon received a flood of orders, according to Bonchon's Baltimore-area developer Gregory Trepetin.
"We were literally slammed on Tuesday, which I have no idea how the word spread," said Trepetin, who is also a manager at the Canton location. The restaurant, which seats around 85 people, received 127 orders between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., he said.
The Canton Bonchon is in a soft-opening period, Trepetin said, during which it will be open for limited hours (typically 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.) on days decided by the staff. A grand opening date has not yet been set.
Until Bonchon settles into its regular hours (11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday), the restaurant will have a sign on its door letting customers know whether it will be open that day, Trepetin said.
He is focused on getting his staff situated and ready to accommodate the anticipated high demand in the coming weeks.
"I don't care how big the restaurant is. ... Take the best restaurant in Baltimore and line the people up and give them 127 orders in 30 minutes, they might have a problem," Trepetin said.
"It can very easily get completely out of hand, so we have to scale it down."
Bonchon was originally aiming to open in Canton by September. Those plans were delayed due to logistics, additional preparation and agreements with the city, Trepetin said.
The restaurant, located at the end unit of Canton's Broom Factory building at 3500 Boston St., hinted at the opening on its Facebook page Jan. 31.
"I know that you have been waiting for a very long time for us to open. I promise you that we are literally days away from that. We will open our doors and finally get to meet all of you as soon as we are 100%, because anything else simply not acceptable," the post said. "I do not think we will be ready this Wednesday. I hope you understand and appreciate that we rather take a little more time than compromise anything at all."
The full Bonchon menu — which includes fried chicken wings, drumsticks and strips, as well as Asian-fusion dishes like bibimbap, bulgogi and pork buns — will be available during the soft-opening period. However, delivery and take-out will not be offered until after the grand opening. The restaurant is also waiting for the city to approve its liquor license, Trepetin said.
Trepetin asked for patience as the restaurant works out its kinks.
"I'm glad that we're welcomed and I'm glad everyone's excited. Once we've got it smooth, we're going to [host the grand opening]," he said.
The Canton location is the sixth Bonchon in Maryland, joining restaurants in Ellicott City, Frederick, Germantown, Hyattsville and Rockville. A location in Waldorf is also "coming soon," according to the Bonchon website, and Trepetin said there are plans to expand to Owings Mills.