International, upscale hot pot chain the Dolar Shop — which debuted in Flushing about six years ago and has 55 locations worldwide — is set to open its second NYC outpost in the East Village, at 55 Third Avenue, at East 11th Street, on Monday.
“We consider Manhattan to be the center of the restaurant world,” says Johnny Shek, one of the managers of the Chinese hot pot chain’s New York operations, on the decision to open in the East Village.
The downtown outpost is part of a larger expansion push in Manhattan for the chain, with plans to open additional locations in Chelsea and Midtown. Shek says the team has scouted locations in both neighborhoods, but nothing is final yet due to the pandemic, and says plans to open those additional outposts would depend on whether the city is able to control the spread of the virus in the coming months.
For now, the team is focussed on the East Village restaurant, where diners will be able to sample all of the chain’s most popular items including its silver broth ($8.99), which is made with chicken and pork bone and simmered for 8 hours, and its shrimp pâté ($13.99).
What sets the Dolar Shop apart from many of the other hot pot destinations in NYC, Shek says, is the restaurant’s use of individual induction heaters for each customer at the table, and it’s use of high quality meat like Miyazaki beef ($69.99) and the thick-cut wagyu short rib ($39.99).
The individual heating elements are particularly useful right now in light of COVID-19, Shek says, so customers each have their own broth to dunk meat and vegetables in.
While the restaurant can seat 180 people inside, the Dolar Shop will be limited to serving 45 customers due to the ongoing restrictions on indoor dining. The massive space, though, has allowed for more socially distanced tables, Shek says. With the threat of a new indoor dining ban looming, Shek says the restaurant has also developed a robust delivery and takeout program to try and stay afloat during the pandemic.
The delivery program has been successful at the Flushing location, Shek says, and at the East Village outpost, the Dolar Shop will be offering a series of combination plates that include one of its signature broths along with a selection of meats and vegetables that can be heated and cooked at home.
Outdoor dining will follow soon after the restaurant’s opening on Monday, Shek says, with plans to add about 10 tables to the sidewalk along with heaters. Shek says the restaurant is waiting to expand the outdoor area based on they response they get in the coming week.
The Dolar Shop opened in Shanghai in 2004, and quickly expanded in China in subsequent years. In the past decade it has also significantly expanded its international footprint with locations in Sydney and Vancouver, and an outpost in Seattle which opened about three years ago.
Aside from the expansion push in Manhattan, the Dolar Shop is also hoping to open 10 to 15 locations in major U.S. cities in the coming years, but that too will depend on the pandemic, Shek says.
The Dolar Shop’s East Village outpost will be open daily starting December 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.