A new Indian restaurant is set to open in Bethesda next month.
Virraaj will be at 4914 Cordell Ave., in the Woodmont Triangle. It will move into space last occupied by Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen, before it closed last year.
Vikas Kakkar, a co-owner of Virraaj, said he originally hoped to open in April, but his plans were pushed back by the pandemic. Now, he is aiming for late August.
For Kakkar, starting the eatery was a chance to combine years of experience in the restaurant industry with a newfound passion for preparing food for others.
Kakkar has worked at restaurants in India, where he was born, and in the United States, where he has lived for 20 years. He recently felt he was ready to take the leap and open his own restaurant.
In his free time, Kakkar, who lives in College Park, started making boxed meals in his kitchen and selling them to students at the nearby University of Maryland campus.
At first, there were only a few takers. But soon, Kakkar said, he was selling 40 to 50 meals to hungry students every week.
“People loved the food a lot, so my confidence built more,” he said.
The restaurateur said he has brought on a chef with 30 years of experience for Virraaj.
It will serve Indian fusion-style dishes, including murgh tikka masala, which is marinated chicken in curry; murgh saagwala, which is chicken with a lighter spinach curry; and Delhi butter chicken, which typically comes in a milder tomato sauce. Each will cost $16.
The Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners approved a liquor license for Virraaj, but the restaurant still needs to have a final inspection done before picking up the license, according to Jocelyn Rawat, a licensure manager for the county’s Alcohol Beverage Services.
Virraaj will be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day. It will reopen for dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The restaurant will offer indoor and outdoor seating, carryout and curbside pickup.
“I hope people like the food. I tried my best,” Kakkar said. “[The] restaurant is my passion.”