Arlington, VA

Like a lot of local restaurants, it’s been a rough spring for Bun’d Up — which opened at Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street) in December — but its owner hopes warmer weather and the forthcoming delivery of speciality Asian alcoholic drinks can help turn things around.

Bun’d Up’s Scott Chung said the business is being inspected later this week for a new ABC permit that, if approved, would allow it to offer in-restaurant serving or home delivery of beer and wine.

“We’re trying to jump on board with the take-home drink trend,” Chung said. “This area allows people to drink in the courtyard and we’re hoping to do take-home delivery of alcohol as well. We’ll see how it goes, and try to expand to do more Asian-inspired drinks.”

Chung said from what he’s heard, frozen drinks have been selling really well at other local restaurants. Bun’d Up just got new ice machines and Chung said he’s hoping to start with frozen drinks to test the waters.

“We’re going to focus on Asian-inspired Korean beers and soju, and specialize in Japanese whiskeys,” Chung said.

The restaurant is still trying to figure out which distributor to use and the prices for the drinks haven’t been set in stone, but Chung said it will be comparable to other restaurants in the area.

In general, Chung said he’s hopeful alcohol sales can help boost a business that’s been hurting over the last few months of the pandemic.

“In the beginning, it was pretty rough, but we’re doing better,” Chung said. “It’s still not comparable to before all this started, but we do see some weekends better than others. I think alcohol and getting an outside presence will help.”

There are other ideas in the pipeline, but Chung said the immediate focus will be putting together food that pairs well with alcohol and drawing more attention to the outside space — assuming the good weather holds up.

“The weather has still been pretty funny,” Chung said. “We had a cold rush last week, but right now it’s hot and there’s a ton of people outside.”

Chung said he’s eagerly looking forward to the third phase of reopening.

“Once Phase 3 [of reopening] happens, the business should get a lot better,” Chung said. “Once Phase 2 hit, even before that started — when they announced Phase 2, we were busier. It took some weight off people’s shoulders that it’s getting better.”

Chung is wary of a second coronavirus wave, however, and he said that’s curbed his enthusiasm for rehiring a full staff.

“We get complaints about how long it takes sometimes to get food ready,” Chung said. “That’s probably the number one complaint we hear, but we can’t staff at earlier levels. With a potential second wave, don’t want to staff more people and then turn around and lay them off again.”

Chung said if the recovery continues, he’ll hire more staff to help speed food preparation and delivery, but for now he’s waiting out the summer to see how the virus continues to impact the community.

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