HAWKERS Wins “Best Taste” at Taste of Atlanta
Since we started Hawkers Asian Street Fare in 2011, the guys and I have been chomping at the bit to bring one to Atlanta. One of our favorite cities in the south, Atlanta is a haven for foodies that don’t want to make the trek to New York or L.A. (or Singapore for that matter). Fresh peaches, Chick-fil-A, Buford Highway ramen – Atlanta’s food scene is legit.
During the site selection process, we kept coming back to Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market, walking the belt line between the two and knowing that we wanted to contribute to the Beltline community. It was 1 part arts and culture and 1 part revitalization – everything we love in neighborhoods with character.
In 2017, we were able to secure our favorite location, behind Krog Street Market on the Beltline, in what we feel is the best neighborhood in Atlanta, Old Fourth Ward. We are set to open there in 2018.
Telling people about us in a brand new (huge) city? Umm.
Sometimes you just have to go back to your roots. Every new market we’ve gone to, we have made an effort to entrench ourselves in the community. This is easy, since we only choose communities that we can really stand behind, and Atlanta would be no different.
Let the Traveling Begin.
Through the past year, we’ve met fantastic people in Atlanta, all of whom have been incredibly supportive and given us great advice. But, one message was consistent – “you guys have to do Taste of Atlanta!”. So, with a little help from some friends in Atlanta, we were able to get the elusive invitation to 2017 Taste of Atlanta.
There was only one problem. We don’t have a restaurant there yet.
The Hawkers team thrives on challenge, so for the next 3 months we prepared for what would be the biggest Hawkers’ Road Show yet. We designed and built an entire new food show set up. We mapped out essentially an entire Hawkers’ kitchen with mobile equipment. We listened to Outkast on repeat over and over (ATLiens album, of course).
Finally, we were ready. With an 8-person crew and enough food for an army, we convoyed up I-75 to stake our claim. We were representing Hawkers, Orlando, and foodies around Florida. Is Florida culinary for real? We think so, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t bring our A-game to prove it.
After 10 hours of set up and a good night’s rest we were ready for the first customer. Before the gates opened, I remember someone saying “I hope we get a line of people”… and line we got. Non-stop line for 2 days straight. Guests were supportive, other restaurants were supportive, and everyone was excited to have Hawkers joining the Atlanta food scene. At one point, we ran out of our Singapore “Chilli” Crab (fried soft-shelled crab with tomato-tamarind sauce on it) and a woman literally cried to me. I felt terrible, and she now has an invitation for our opening night in Atlanta.
In a matter of 48 hours, all the fears of the big city subsided and we were in our element. Smiling guests, camaraderie with our team, delicious food – what could be better?
We weren’t expecting to win. We don’t even have a restaurant in the market yet for crying out loud. In our minds, we participate this year and we compete next year. So when they announced “Best Taste of Show goes to…” we didn’t think anything of it.
“…Hawkers Asian Street Fare!”
Wow. Everyone loves to participate, but nothing beats taking home a trophy. The pictures, posts, hashtags, and celebration dinner ensued. What a great end to an even better weekend.
I look at that trophy and it symbolizes so much for me – and I have to tell you it’s not an impressive trophy. It reminds me of how thankful I am to everyone who helped Hawkers get to Atlanta – our team, our supporters, our families. It reminds me of the unrelenting dedication to success that our team feeds on. And it reminds me of the memories built over 3 days with some of my best friends.
Now on to Charlotte…