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New Bethesda Apartment Pitches New Definition Of Pet-Friendly

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm | No Comments

The completed Gallery of Bethesda in early 2014 (file photo)In the competition for tenants in Bethesda’s growing apartment market, one new building is rolling out the red carpet for the four-legged demographic.

The Gallery of Bethesda, the 17-story, 235-unit building that opened earlier this year on Rugby Avenue, is hosting a grand opening of its pet spa and dog park on Saturday, May 3.

The Humane Society, a professional dog trainer, owner of a pet fitness business, pet grooming company and local restaurant will all be involved with the event, meant to show The Gallery is a “highly pet-friendly” property, according to assistant property manager Andrew Davies.

“This is something the community has not seen in any new development in Bethesda,” Davies said.

Vantage Management, the property manager for The Gallery, is trying to bring a little bit more to the definition of a pet-friendly rental. Davies said the building, from developer Donohoe Companies, has slip-proof stairwells designed to accommodate dog paws and a pet spa in-house.

When the building fills up, Davies said the property manager will start scheduling appointments. It’s equipped with a turbo blowdryer.

Davies said the building is also looking to incorporate a dog run — common on the rooftops of newer apartment buildings around the country — so that tenants won’t have to take the elevator downstairs and back each time they need to take their pet out for a quick walk.

The event on May 3 will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Humane Society will install free tracking microchips to all dogs and cats and host a pet adoption. Professional dog trainer Heather Stein will conduct a free, one-hour obedience class. Fido Fitness & Play will do a free exercise class for pets. There will be free grooming and nearby Mia’s Pizza will provide food.

School Crossing Guard To Parents: Use Your Turn Signals

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 11:20 am | No Comments

Photo via Somerset Elementary School newsletterMs. Susan, the trusty crossing guard who works the streets in front of Somerset Elementary in Chevy Chase, is having a bit of trouble.

Susan can’t know which way a driver is turning if drivers don’t use their turn signals — a problem she’s noticed more and more lately, according to a notice in the school’s newsletter.

“Of particular concern to Ms. Susan is the lack of turn signal usage during drop-off and pick-up school hours,” read the notice. “Susan is diligently trying to direct traffic, of course it is the safety of our school children that receives her highest priority, but without the additional help from us, the parents (and commuters), she can not accurately predict traffic flow without proper signals being used, and as a result feels that this is a potential danger.”

The school of 531 students is nestled between Drummond Avenue and Dorset Avenue and a number of other neighborhood streets.

The newsletter starts off by saying the crossing guard has noticed several vehicles with broken headlights and turn signals. Perhaps that’s a way to politely remind drivers to turn them on.

The rest of the newsletter is a bit more straightforward.

“So, please check your turn signals and if they work, then use them.”

Photo via Somerset Elementary School Newsletter

Driver Crashes Through Second-Floor Bethesda Garage Wall

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 11:15 am | 457 views | No Comments

A driver this week accidentally punched a hole through a concrete wall of a Woodmont Triangle parking garage with her car.

As reported by Bethesda blogger Robert Dyer, the accident happened in the St Elmo/Cordell Avenue Garage on Monday around 5 p.m. on the garage’s second floor.

A witness said a woman drove her car into the wall, which left a hole hovering over the back of the Gringos & Mariachis space on Cordell Avenue.

A guard rail took heavy damage but didn’t break, apparently saving the car from busting through the hole.

SBW: A Place To Create On The Purple Couch

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 10:10 am | 218 views | No Comments

This is Small Business Weekly, a recurring feature in which we’ll spotlight a small, independently owned business in Bethesda, Chevy Chase or some place nearby. Got a business you think we should check out? Drop us a line at desk[at]bethesdanow[dot]com.

Bahia Akerele’s On the Purple Couch gets attention because of its most prominent product. But her hope is that it becomes successful because of its hands-on, creative approach.

Akerele opened the part-furniture store, part-workshop space last September at 4228 Howard Ave. among the warehouses of Kensington’s Howard Avenue West Antique District.

She is one of about 350 licensed retailers of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint products in the U.S., which she said brings customers from around the region.

The products are licensed to small, locally-owned stores instead of home improvement giants precisely because learning how to use it requires some one-on-one attention.

The store also sells furniture remade with the paint, jewelry and luxury scented candles.

The unique aspect of the business happens toward the back of the warehouse, where two tables and a color wheel on the wall make up the workshop space. There Akerele leads people interested in upcycling or home decorating in tutorials of how to use the product.

She began moving the business from a boutique space in Silver Spring in August when she realized her home and clothes store was relying heavily on sales of the paint and paint-related products.

“It really took over the business and I was running two businesses in one — the clothes and the home,” Akerele said. “I thought, ‘I’m new enough to switch up my game quickly and figure out what is a better niche.’ This product was just really good. It would allow me to manage my mom life, family life and still do some entrepreneurial stuff.”

The paint’s main selling point is that it’s versatile enough to paint furniture without stripping, priming or sanding. It generally requires a coat or two of paint and some waxing on the back end. As Akerele demonstrates in her workshops, it works for creating a number of styles.

“I can develop and create a place where people can come and learn about Chalk Paint, learn how to redo and reform their pieces,” Akerele said.

The garage-shaped store space gave her room to be creative, something she wants her customers to feel too.

There is a purple couch and a shade of purple Akerele created herself covers one of the walls. On the work tables, she shows how to paint and style old drawers, desks, chairs and other items. Classes run from $75 for a special Mother’s Day workshop to $180.

She has someone come in and help on Sundays, but for now, Akerele runs the business almost by herself.

“It’s only the mom in this mom and pop,” Akerele said.

Most workshops will have about seven people and the business has so far brought in mostly women. A few of Akerele’s clients are from restaurants or other small businesses looking to spruce up their own spaces.

It’s that interactive experience Akerele said sets On the Purple Couch apart in a crowded market of products and styles.

“It’s almost like an underground movement that’s blossoming up in the DIY world,” Akerele said.

Small Business Weekly Archive

Bakery Chain, Pottery Barn, Chop’t Announced For Lot 31

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 8:05 am | 724 views | 8 Comments

Lot 31 construction last weekA Paul Bakery, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Chop’t Creative Salad Company are coming to Lot 31, according to an announcement on Monday from developer StonebridgeCarras.

The developer said the retail space in the two residential buildings part of the project is more than 90 percent leased.

Combined with a luxury dining concept from Silver Diner and upscale seafood restaurant PassionFish, the retailers coming to Lot 31 mirror a few of the successful retailers across Bethesda Avenue in Federal Realty’s Bethesda Row.

That could set up an interesting test of the area’s retail market. Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids will fit into a 17,900-square-foot space in the Lot 31 project, “dramatically impacting the range of shopping available on Bethesda Row,” according to the StonebridgeCarras press release.

Urban Country (7117 Arlington Rd.) might have something to say about that. The homegrown furniture and design shop moved to Bethesda Row in 2008.

Chop’t will obviously be competing in the fast casual salad chain market with Bethesda Row’s Sweetgreen (4831 Bethesda Ave.). Paul Bakery, a chain of French bakeries prevalent in D.C., and Le Pain Quotidien (7140 Bethesda Lane) share that characteristic and more than a few others.

It sounds as if StonebridgeCarras thinks there’s plenty of room for both developments to thrive.

“The vision for the project’s retail has been to provide a great mix of merchandise and restaurant retailers, enhancing the existing dynamic and vibrant Bethesda Row area of Bethesda,” StonebridgeCarras founding principal Doug Firstenberg said in a press release.

His company’s project consists of a 940-space underground garage to be operated by Montgomery County that will replace the surface Lot 31. Construction on that is expected to finish later this year, which will allow Woodmont Avenue to reopen south of Bethesda Avenue.

Crews will then finish the 64-unit luxury condominium building The Darcy on one side of Woodmont, with the 162-unit The Flats set for the other side.

Custom Tailor Barnstorming Tour Coming To Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 219 views | No Comments

Mohan's sales manager KJ Singh during a fitting, via Mohan's Custom TailorsThere is no suit like a suit from a Manhattan custom tailor.

That’s what a well known New York suit shop is claiming ahead of an all-day pop-up store set for Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (7400 Wisconsin Ave.).

Mohan’s Custom Tailors — the folks who outfitted Rudy Giuliani and who provide some of the colorful stylings of New York Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier — set up an 18-city, 21-day barnstorming tour to bring their products and tailoring service to customers up and down the East Coast.

“With our name and our quality and the service we provide, people love to come to us,” said Mohan’s sales manager KJ Singh. “I get phone calls every day. People call us from California asking, ‘When are you guys going to come here?’”

Singh said Mohan’s large fabric selection makes it “very different than an old-school tailor in a small town.”

However accurate that statement is, the pop-up store strategy is indeed a unique approach.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., two employees will receive customers in a Hyatt ballroom. Customers will select from 40 suit styles, 16 shirt cuff styles and 20 collar styles and the tailors will size them up, as if they were in the store. Singh said suits start at $500.

The tour hits a number of big cities and wealthy communities. Singh said Mohan’s has been to Bethesda before — they do the tour twice a year.

The event gets plenty of customers willing to take time out of their day to come to Bethesda.

“We always get new clients and we have a lot of clients already in the D.C. area,” Singh said. “It’s a convenience thing.”

For more information, visit Mohan’s pop-up shop page.

Photo via Mohan’s Custom Tailors

Someone Is Ripping Up Campaign Yard Signs In Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | 253 views | 1 Comment

Hrant Jamgochian campaign sign, ripped up, via Jamgochian campaign Hrant Jamgochian campaign sign, with wire frame removed, via Jamgochian campaign

(Update at 2 p.m.) The campaign yard signs in front of Hrant Jamgochian’s Bradley Boulevard home were stolen and ripped apart over the weekend.

Jamgochian, who is running to represent District 16 in the House of Delegates, is one of many candidates employing yard signs before the June 24 primary.

On Saturday, he found the two signs in front of his house were missing, presumably stolen. On Sunday, he found the two new signs used as replacements were ripped up, with the wire frames mangled.

Tim Hernandez, Jamgochian’s campaign manager, said he found at least six other Jamgochian signs torn up, some with the wire frames gone and the shredded signs thrown back onto a lawn.

“The fact that they were taken and ripped up on Hrant’s own property and not just random yards is what’s really strange,” Hernandez said. “Whether they’re trying to send a message or what, I don’t know.”

Jordan Cooper, another candidate in the District 16 delegate race, reported that some of his signs in his Luxmanor neighborhood have also been disappearing.

“We’ve found that a few had been thrown into the woods and that others have just plain disappeared from my own neighborhood and from across D-16,” Cooper said.

In a press release, Jamgochian’s campaign characterized the sign vandalism as “violent and cowardly acts.” He has contacted police:

Hrant, his wife Lenna and their 8 month old child will not be bullied or intimidated by such violent and cowardly acts. Hrant is running for office because he wants: everyone to have access to high quality, affordable healthcare; all of our children have the chance at a good education; and everybody to have the opportunity to earn a good living. Hrant is running a positive, issues based campaign that reflects the best in the Democratic Party. He will continue to work hard to ensure his message gets out, even if there are those who would threaten his family and their well being.

The tearing up or theft of campaign yard signs isn’t new. It is new to District 16, where there doesn’t seem to be much discord between the eight Democrats running for three seats in the June primary.

Candidate Marc Korman said he texted Jamgochian on Sunday night and encouraged him to call the police.

“I can only imagine how my wife and I would feel if that happened at our home,” Korman said. “It is completely unacceptable behavior and Hrant, Lenna and their son should not have to tolerate it.”

In January, Cooper circulated a “Clean Campaign Pledge” to all candidates. All candidates said they wouldn’t engage in personal attacks or negative talk about opponents.

Photos via Hrant Jamgochian campaign

Tasting Room Wine Bar To Close In Chevy Chase

by Aaron Kraut | April 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm | 294 views | 1 Comment

Photo via The Tasting Room Wine Bar & ShopA Friendship Heights wine bar dedicated to showcasing varieties from a high-end Virginia vineyard is closing up shop.

The Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop (5330A Western Ave.) in The Shops At Wisconsin Place announced on Friday that it will close Monday.

The store made the announcement on Facebook.

The wine bar opened about five years ago. Boxwood Winery, the Middleburg, Va. vineyard set up in 2004, opened the tasting room with the hopes of extending its brand.

John Kent Cooke, son of former Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, backs the operation, which produces three styles of red wine.

There are two other locations of The Tasting Room, one in Reston and one in National Harbor.

Photo via The Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop

Restaurant Roundup: Penang’s Remodel, City Burger Hiring

by Aaron Kraut | April 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 392 views | No Comments

City Burgers, via chef Michael Harr Green Hat Gin and tonics, via Wildwood Kitchen Former Berry Yogurt spot on Norfolk Avenue, now up for lease

Following are a few end-of-the-week tidbits from the Bethesda restaurant world.

City Burger Is Hiring – The folks behind Food Wine & Co. are nearing the opening of their “better burger” concept just a few blocks from their flagship restaurant. Chef Michael Harr, who helms the kitchen at Food Wine & Co. and who is a partner at Fish Taco in Cabin John, tweeted on Friday that the restaurant is now hiring.

Harr and Francis Namin are set to open the burger place at 7105 Wisconsin Ave., just down the street from Namin’s well regarded Food Wine & Co. restaurant (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) and on the same block as Namin and partner Carlos Ramirez’s Beer Wine & Co. (7029 Wisconsin Ave.).

Penang Goes Through $60,000 Renovation – Wondering why Malaysian and Thai restaurant Penang has been closed for the past few weeks?

Bethesda Magazine’s Andrew Metcalf reports owner Kevin Cheah and company are putting the 4933 Bethesda Ave. space through a $60,000 renovation. Cheah wants to market it to a younger crowd with a new look. The menu won’t change.

Look for a reopening on or near April 23.

Prominent Woodmont Triangle Space Officially Available – It’s official now. The former Berry Yogurt space at 7920 Norfolk Ave. is up for lease by property owner Douglas Development.

Blogger Robert Dyer is hoping for Shake Shack, which Douglas has done business with before. He also said Norfolk Avenue could become “the Bethesda Avenue of the redeveloped Woodmont Triangle,” referring to the popular pedestrian street in Bethesda Row.

Like Tonics? – Then Wildwood Kitchen in Wildwood Shopping Center (10223 Old Georgetown Rd.) might be a good bet. The restaurant from chef Robert Wiedmaier says its the first place in Montgomery County with the new Green Hat Gin. It’s putting that into its #6 and #7 seasonal tonics. One is white tea, cucumber, basil & celery. The other has calendura, slippery elm, ginger root, tumeric and pineapple.

Ursuline Grads Go On Search For Members Of The Class of ’64

by Aaron Kraut | April 18, 2014 at 9:15 am | 194 views | 3 Comments

The Ursuline Academy Class of 1964, via Mary Ellen Schattman

About half of the Ursuline Academy Class of 1964 will be back in Bethesda next weekend, taking a yellow school bus up Old Georgetown Road as part of a three-day long 50th reunion celebration.

Over the past year, organizers have researched maiden names, written letters and tried to track down each of the roughly 60 members of the class.

The all-girls Catholic high school closed in 1975. It is now home to the Lycee Rochambeau French International School at 9600 Forest Road.

On Saturday, April 26, the Class of ’64 will hop on a bus at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Bethesda and head to the school for a tour that’s likely to evoke memories of a very different time.

“When we moved to Bethesda in 1957, it was about as close to Mayberry as you could possibly hope for,” said Mary Ellen Schattman, a Class of ’64 grad and one of the main organizers of the reunion. “It was a small town.”

Prom for the Ursuline Academy Class of '64, via Mary Ellen SchattmanSchattman’s family lived on Rosedale Avenue. She rode her bike to the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market on Saturday mornings to buy sausage to cook for breakfast. She took sewing at Singer Sewing, ate at the Hot Shoppes at Wisconsin Avenue and East-West Highway and remembers a change machine behind the police station kids used to play like a slot machine, hoping for leftover nickels.

It was also a “very difficult time,” said Schattman, who’s maiden name was Brannigan. Resistance to integration caused strife. Bethesda’s Hiser Theatre closed rather than allow black customers.

In November of the Class of ’64′s senior year, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

The school was one of many Catholic high schools that dotted the landscape. The six children in Schattman’s family went to five different Catholic high schools, normal back then.

Ursuline was more academic-oriented than others, Schattman said. She won her school’s Betty Crocker Homemakers of Tomorrow scholarship — despite the fact the school didn’t have a Home Economics class. Latin, French and the sciences were the focus.

Boys weren’t allowed to pick up Ursuline students at the school. Many of the students worked at Camp Shriver — the summer camp Eunice Shriver started in 1962 to match up special needs students with students from area high schools.

The Ursuline Academy Class of 1964, via Mary Ellen SchattmanSome members of the class of ’64 have died. Others live as far away as Europe. About 25 have made reservations for the Hyatt next weekend and Schattman expected more who remained local to show.

The group is still looking for three members of the class: Barbara Peg Henke, Mary Patricia Flinn and Carol Jeanne Aldrich.

The reunion will last the length of the weekend, with a dinner on Friday, lunch on Saturday, tour of the old Academy grounds and a brunch on Sunday.

“We expect to have more fun than anyone who has ever had a high school reunion has had,” Schattman said. “My husband’s jealous.”

Photos via Mary Ellen Schattman

Turntable Looking Toward Mid-May Opening

by Aaron Kraut | April 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm | 177 views | 2 Comments

Turntable, under construction on Cordell Avenue (file photo)Korean chicken restaurant Turntable is hoping to open in Woodmont Triangle by May 20, according to owner Sung Kim.

The restaurant on Thursday got its Montgomery County alcohol license. Kim told the county’s Board of License Commissioners the restaurant will serve beer, wine and cocktails both inside the restaurant, at an indoor bar and on a front patio space.

The restaurant is taking the former space (4862 Cordell Ave.) of the flagship California Tortilla location, which moved across the street in 2012.

Turntable’s menu and style will be similar to the Turntable location in Manhattan’s Koreatown, just without the beer tower. The restaurant will offer pitchers of beer and close at midnight, seven days a week.

Kim said he’s in the process of finishing hiring and the build-out of the restaurant.

Court Records: BlackFinn Owes $129,000 In Rent

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm | 533 views | No Comments

Shuttered BlackFinn American Saloon in Bethesda

The shuttered BlackFinn American Saloon owes nearly $130,000 in rent, according to a lawsuit filed last week by the restaurant’s landlord.

White Flint Express LLC, a holding company part of property owner Greenhill Capital, filed suit against BlackFinn last Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The landlord alleges that BlackFinn owes $129,492.01 in rent through April.

The popular bar and restaurant on a prominent corner of Woodmont Triangle did not open for business on Tuesday, April 1. The next day, it announced through its website that it was permanently closed.

Multiple attempts to reach Paul Derrico, one of the restaurant owners listed in a similar lawsuit over late rent in 2012, have been unsuccessful. Derrico opened the restaurant at 4901 Fairmont Ave. in 2007.

The restaurant remains locked down, with signs advising locksmiths not to attempt change the locks without permission from Greenhill Capital.

Budget, Stone Ridge Improvements On The Agenda For Next Week

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 103 views | No Comments

Suburban Hospital expansion rendering, via Suburban HospitalA pair of citizen committees will discuss budget priorities, new projects at the Stone Ridge School and maybe even the latest on Suburban Hospital’s modernization project.

On Monday, April 21, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will meet at 7 p.m. and hear from Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase) on prominent issues in front of the Council and the FY 15 operating budget.

On Tuesday, April 22, the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee will meet to get updates on local intersection improvement projects, and a presentation from the Stone Ridge School about construction on a new athletic field.

Also tentatively scheduled is an update on Suburban Hospital’s “2020 Campus Enhancement Plan.” The hospital plans a 235,000-square-foot addition that will mean some consolidation and a new four-story building, plus a 1,125-space garage that will require the abandonment of Lincoln Street.

Both meetings will start at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).

Photo via Suburban Hospital

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