A new Bill Bateman's Bistro is expected to open in Perry Hall before Memorial Day weekend, said Tom Strawser, co-owner of the planned restaurant.
A small army of architects, contractors, electricians and plumbers has spent recent weeks gutting and renovating the former location of Damon's Grill at 9629 Belair Road.
"I'd hate to miss the holiday," Strawser said while sorting through stacks of blueprints and employee applications on a small table in the restaurant's lobby last week.
Strawser said he has received more than 100 applications from prospective servers, bartenders, hostesses and cooks. He expects to hire about 70 full-time and part-time employees.
"I placed one Craigslist ad ... the response was immediate," he added.
Co-owner Marcus F. Sciadini, a University of Maryland Medical Center orthopedic surgeon, will share half of the start-up risk, Strawser said.
Sciadini is a hospitality industry novice, he added. "I'm the restaurant man."
Strawser began opening Chi-Chi's in the early 1990s. The new Bill Bateman's will be the 88th restaurant he's helped establish. The restaurant requires a total investment of about $650,000, Strawser said, but its revenue is projected at between $2.5 million and $4 million in the first year.
A thriving nightlife and bar scene would bolster the business' earnings, Strawser said. "A lot of people in their 20s and 30s around here don't want to drive down to the city for nightlife."
This is the main reason he has decided to enlarge the pre-existing bar. "You've got to have a big bar," Strawser said. More than 20 televisions and a private room, which can hold 30-35 people, will be added.
In spite of nightlife accommodations, the restaurant chain, which includes about a dozen locations in Maryland and Pennsylvania, has a "family-oriented" reputation, Strawser said.
"Just look at the menu. It has anything you want—steaks, burgers, wings," he said. "People are getting excited about it."