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by Aaron Kraut — October 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm 672 7 Comments

Freddy's Lobsters & Clams, closed on Cordell Avenue

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Freddy’s Lobster & Clams has closed, at least temporarily.

A sign posted on the door Friday claims the Bethesda restaurant will reopen under new management. The seafood eatery and bar (4869 Cordell Ave.) was a favorite for many in Woodmont Triangle.

Bethesda Magazine reported Friday afternoon that Patrick Forest and Laura Houlihan, two veterans of the next-door Grapeseed restaurant, have bought the restaurant and plan to reopen it as a new concept after a renovation.

A tipster said the restaurant was closed with no notice to staff or management.

Jeff Heinenman, chef and owner of Grapeseed next door, said he sold his interest in Freddy’s some time ago. Heinenman opened Freddy’s in 2011.

It quickly etched out a solid reputation, especially for its lobster roll.

According to Bethesda Magazine, Forest and Houlihan are planning a new restaurant focused on “refined regional comfort food.”

by Aaron Kraut — October 31, 2014 at 1:10 pm 180 0

Phillip Gottwals, co-founder of Friends & FarmsA Columbia-based company that arranges and distributes food deliveries made up of locally-sourced goods has set up a new Bethesda pick-up location.

Friends & Farms, which has mostly concentrated its food basket delivery service in the Baltimore area, will now start hosting weekly pick-ups on Wednesdays at the Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center (7801 Democracy Blvd.)

The company is pitching the service as a way to keep getting farm-fresh produce, meats and dairy products after area farmer’s markets shut down for the winter. (Bethesda Central Farm Market starts its winter season on Jan. 4 at Bethesda Elementary School.)

“We know that people return to the supermarket when the farmer’s market close down. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Friends & Farms co-founder Phillip Gottwals said. “With the expansion, residents of Montgomery County can avoid returning to the grocery store and continue to shop locally throughout the winter. This, combined with our ability to deliver at a value pricing level, sets us apart from all others in the business.”

Like other similar services, the company purchases and organizes grocery baskets made up of quick-frozen vegetables, shelf-stable items like pickles, jams and broths and the occasional fermented item, such as sauerkraut or kim chi.

The baskets are also made up of a rotation of cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers, plus a number of meat and seafood options that remain largely the same throughout the year.

Customers can pick and choose items in their basket individually, or subscribe to packages ranging from $41 to $104 per week.

The Bethesda pick-up location will be open from 11 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Photo via Friends & Farms

by Aaron Kraut — October 31, 2014 at 9:10 am 684 0

Add power recliners and an in-movie iPad food ordering system to the list of local movie theater amenities.

iPic, the Boca Raton-based movie theater chain, will open its eight-screen Pike & Rose location on Friday.

The recliners and in-movie food and drink service are the latest perks from a new batch of local theaters seeking to brand themselves as the standard in luxury moviegoing.

Just two weeks ago, Los Angeles-based ArcLight Cinemas opened its 16-screen theater at Westfield Montgomery mall, complete with widescreens and the latest in surround sound technology.

Perhaps sensing the coming competition, Landmark Theatres closed its Bethesda Row Cinema for a month last year for a complete overhaul of the facility’s interior, setting up cozier seating, a new gourmet food and cocktail menu and a reserved seating system in the process.

Reserved seating is also a staple of iPic’s brand. The Pike & Rose location (11580 Old Georgetown Rd.) is the company’s eleventh and its biggest.

It’s located at what’s now the end of Grand Park Avenue in the middle of Federal Realty’s redevelopment of the former Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center. A staircase and escalator takes customers up to the lobby, where there is also an entrance to City Perch, the full-service restaurant with a separate kitchen.

The eight auditoriums range from 84 to 104 seats and each is divided into premium seats up front and multiple tiers of premium plus seats — the orange recliners that move with the push of a button.

Each of the premium plus seats (they cost $22 each on the weekend and $17 during the week with a free membership) includes a small pillow and blanket a la first class seating on an airplane. The seats are positioned in groups of two and angled so iPic’s “ninja servers” won’t block the screen while delivering food and drink orders during a movie.

The popcorn comes free, at least in the premium plus seats. Those who buy the premium seats (which range from $11 to $13 a ticket) can bring food and drinks into the theater.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm 368 4 Comments

New mural at 4901 Fairmont Ave.

The same studio responsible for the mural at Pizzeria da Marco (8008 Woodmont Ave.) has finished a new painting on the side of another Woodmont Triangle building.

The mural is on the side of 4901 Fairmont Ave., home to Bold Bite and the former BlackFinn space.

The property owner, Greenhill Capital, is also in the approval process to reconstruct the former Fresh Grill building next door.

Mt. Airy-based ATS Studios, which did the art work at Pizzeria da Marco, revealed the finished mural on Thursday and is in line to do another at a reconstructed 4848 Cordell Ave.

Photo via Greenhill Capital

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 11:40 am 380 0

Union Jack's of BethesdaThere are a number of Halloween events around town this weekend for those who have outgrown neighborhood trick-or-treating (and even for those who haven’t):

Bethesda Row celebrates Halloween a night early –  About 40 businesses and restaurants in one of downtown Bethesda’s most popular areas will offer trick-or-treating on Halloween eve.

From 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, the stores will offer deals, live entertainment and trick-or-treating for the kids. There will also be a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the Paper Source.

Nightmare on St. Elmo Street – Union Jack’s (4915 St Elmo Ave.) gets the prize for best event name, plus the Woodmont Triangle bar will be offering specials and costume prizes on both Thursday and Friday nights.

A Captain Jack Sparrow-style Halloween dance party – Dance Bethesda (8227 Woodmont Ave.) is looking for people willing to walk the plank at its pirate-themed session of dance lessons and performances starting at 8 p.m. on Friday. The event costs $15 per person and tickets should be purchased in advance.

Monster Bash at the Doubletree – A few doors down from Dance Bethesda, the DoubleTree Bethesda (8120 Wisconsin Ave.) will put on its “Monster Bash,” event. For $10, guests get a live DJ and dance floor, cash bars, a costume contest and two movie theaters showing horror films. The event starts at 9 p.m.

Costume contest at 4935 – Music and a costume contest are on the agenda at 4935 Bar & Kitchen (4935 Cordell Ave.). Entry is free all night. Festivities start at 10 p.m. and will include a costume contest with prizes for the funniest, sexiest and most original costumes.

Fireball and games at Caddies – Caddies on Cordell (4922 Cordell Ave.) will feature Halloween-inspired Fireball cocktails, $2 Pumpkin Spice shooters, a costume contest, prizes and other giveaways from 4 p.m. to close on Friday.

by Aaron Kraut — October 27, 2014 at 4:25 pm 1,232 13 Comments

Illustration of the newly proposed residential building for 8280 Wisconsin, via Montgomery County Planning Department

Another area developer is changing gears by looking to build a residential high-rise where an office building was once planned.

The Donohoe Development Company, which had planned a six-story, 90,000-square-foot office building for the existing gas station at 8280 Wisconsin Ave., is now requesting a 200-foot-tall residential building on the spot.

Rendering of the office building originally planned for the existing gas station site at 8280 Wisconsin, via Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services CenterNews of the change came via the Montgomery County Planning Department, which as part of its ongoing Bethesda Downtown Plan launched a map with property owners’ ideas for redevelopment last week.

Donohoe is now planning the residential building at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Battery Lane. It would be four stories higher than the neighboring 8200 Wisconsin apartment building and sit directly across the street from the 8300 Wisconsin/Harris Teeter project.

In June, developer JBG announced it was abandoning its approved plans for an office building at its North Bethesda Market property and going back to the Planning Board with a proposal for an 80-unit residential building in its place.

Images via Montgomery County Planning Department, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center

by Aaron Kraut — October 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm 229 0

Renovated dance studio at Glen Echo's Hall of Mirrors

A former amusement park funhouse will reopen as a dance studio next month at Glen Echo Park.

The Hall of Mirrors Dance Studio was renovated thanks to a construction grant from Montgomery County. The work — which included new climate control, a reconfigured lobby, improved dressing rooms, a spacious new dance studio and waiting area —  will be revealed at a ribbon cutting ceremony set for Saturday, Nov. 8.

The Hall of Mirrors, built in 1964, served as the park’s funhouse when it was a private amusement park. In the more than 40 years since, the building has been transformed into the home of the park’s dance technique and creative movement program.

Old dance studio at Glen Echo's Hall of MirrorsThe renovation will allow the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture to expand dance programming to visitors of all ages.

“Glen Echo Park already enjoys a reputation as a premiere location for social dance events as well as visual and performing art forms,” said Partnership Executive Director Katey Boerner. “Renovating the Hall of Mirrors was the first step toward invigorating our ballet and creative movement classes and bringing these offerings up to par with the breadth of our other programming. Overall, the renovation helps the Partnership build a varied and sustainable program.”

The county grant for the project was $45,000. The Partnership says the grant was dependent on matching grants from other sources and came through the competitive application process managed by the county’s Arts & Humanities Council.

The ribbon cutting on Saturday, Nov. 8 is set for 10:30 a.m.

Photos via Glen Echo Park Partnership

by Aaron Kraut — October 23, 2014 at 11:15 am 508 23 Comments

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) Montgomery County’s first cycle track is being installed Thursday and could be fully operational by the first week of November.

Crews were putting up flex posts along Woodglen Drive in North Bethesda/White Flint, where new road markings have already been put down for the Woodglen Drive cycle track. The project is the county’s first use of the concept of a buffered bike lane and could be put to use in downtown Bethesda in the next few years.

The cycle track will run from Edson Lane — where the off-road portion of the Bethesda Trolley Trail ends — to Nicholson Lane.

Redevelopment plans for the Metro Pike Plaza shopping center north of Nicholson Lane could include extending the cycle track all the way to Marinelli Road, where there’s an entrance for the White Flint Metro station.

The cycle track will mean a row of parking spaces on the west side of Woodglen Drive will move off the curb. The meters for those spaces will remain. MCDOT’s Pat Shepherd said installation will also include tick marks on the pavement to show parking spaces and signage to point drivers to the correct meter for each space.

Crews will also add bicycle pavement markings and bicycle detection pucks at opposite ends of the cycle track.

The road runs along the North Bethesda Market development anchored by Whole Foods.

The two-way track is eight-feet wide and separated from the parking lane by a roughly three-foot wide buffer area that includes the plastic flex posts.

MCDOT officials said the cycle track would also include green-painted pavement to highlight “conflict areas,” where the cycle track crosses intersections or driveways.

by Aaron Kraut — October 23, 2014 at 10:05 am 0

Meter parking along Bethesda Avenue

Utility work next week will mean no evening parking on the north side of Bethesda Avenue.

Crews will be installing a telecommunications line on the street between Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. each day from Monday, Oct. 27 to Saturday, Nov. 1.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Director Ken Hartman tweeted the news Thursday morning.

Alternate parking spots can be found in the Bethesda Elm Street Garage (Garage 57) or a block east of Wisconsin Avenue at the public parking lot at Willow Lane and Leland Street.

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm 643 3 Comments

The Bacon Cheesy Slide burger from Burger 21, Photo via Burger 21The latest better burger brand to hit Bethesda might come from the company behind a well-known chain of fondue restaurants.

Burger 21, from Tampa-based Front Burner Brands, announced on Wednesday that it is seeking new franchise owners for a new batch of locations it hopes to open in Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, Rockville and other places around the D.C. region.

Burger 21 management officials will be at the Capital Franchise Expo on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 at the Dulles Expo Center to promote the idea, and will hold a “franchising Executive Roundtable” on Nov. 2 for qualified candidates.

The chain has 14 locations so far spread through Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia. It features freshly ground Certified Angus Beef burgers, chicken, turkey, vegetarian, shrimp and tuna burgers, plus hot dogs, salads and shakes.

Franchisees can expect one restaurant to require a total investment of anywhere from $400,000-$1,000,000, with an initial franchise fee of $40,000.

The “beyond the better burger” fast-casual concept will have plenty of local competition. Smashburger and Bobby’s Burger Palace opened last year in Bethesda, which already was home to BGR The Burger Joint and Five Guys.

Photo via Burger 21

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm 470 9 Comments

Closed northbound lane of Hillandale Road in Bethesda

(Updated Friday at 1:20 p.m.) Repairs of the partially collapsed storm drain that led to the closure of a Bethesda road last week will keep one lane of the road closed for up to six months.

According to the Montgomery County Transportation Department’s Division of Highway Services, a storm drain culvert under Hillandale Road roadway was found to be degraded last Thursday. That led to the county closing the northbound lane of Hillandale Road between Little Falls Parkway and Willet Parkway.

On Friday, MCDOT said crews will be replacing the pipe that carries part of the Willett Branch creek under the road.

The closure cuts off access to the Bethesda Swimming Pool (6300 Little Falls Parkway) and Willet Parkway from the south. Detour signage has been set up to direct drivers to northbound Arlington Road, eastbound Bradley Boulevard and then southbound Hillandale Road.

For more information contact MCDOT’s Jeff Knutsen (jeff[dot]knutsen[at]montgomerycountymd[dot]gov) or Josh Faust at 240-777-7642.

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0

Sara Sulzbach, right, with family members at last year's Candy Cane City 5K, Photo via Hope Connections For Cancer SupportNine months after her breast cancer was determined to be in remission, Sara Sulzbach will be surrounded by 40 family members and close friends when she races in next month’s Candy Cane City 5K in Chevy Chase.

Sulzbach was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer in the fall of 2012 — at the age of 43. The Silver Spring resident underwent 130 medical procedures and, perhaps just as important, hooked up with the team at Hope Connections for Cancer Support in Bethesda.

The nonprofit, which moved to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) campus at 9650 Rockville Pike last year, provides weekly and monthly support groups, gentle yoga courses, knitting, stich, chat sessions and other free programming meant to provide emotional help for cancer patients.

Sulzbach took part in the nonprofit’s Pink Ribbon Pilates class and attended group meetings for a year-and-a-half.

Now, she’s training for the 5K, set for Saturday, Nov. 9. She also ran in last year’s event, while still undergoing cancer treatment.

The race will mark her one-year point as a cancer survivor and she’ll have that group of family and friends with her as part of the “Sara’s New & Improved Rack Pack” team.

Hope Connections will also have a team in the 5K. For more information, visit the group’s website.

All donations will help people affected by cancer through the nonprofit, which provides its programming free of charge.

Photo via Hope Connections For Cancer Support

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 10:30 am 0

Filmmakers answer audience questions at the inaugural Bethesda Film Fest in March at Imagination Stage (file photo)The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is looking for short documentaries to feature in its third annual Bethesda Film Fest, set for next March.

The event will again use a two-night format on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at Imagination Stage.

Up to five films will be featured by filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. and a documentary by a filmmaker younger than 18 may also be included.

Selected filmmakers will get a $500 honorarium and be invited to speak about their films at the Film Fest.

A panel including Kiley Kraskouskas, president and Executive producer of Thinking Forward Media, Ellen Tripler, associate producer at Journey Films, and members of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District Board of Directors will select the films.

All topics are eligible. The documentary must be between five and 30 minutes long. Those interested in applying can mail a DVD of their documentary and a completed application form to Bethesda Film Fest c/o Bethesda Urban Partnership, 7700 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda,MD 20814.

Entries must be received by Jan. 12, 2015.

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm 2,229 3 Comments

A Southern California movie theater chain hopes a passionate following in Los Angeles translates to its new, 16-theater setup at Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery mall.

ArcLight will begin opening its Bethesda location this weekend with a handful of screenings before a full-scale opening the week of Nov. 7. That’s when Matthew McConaughey’s new science fiction film “Interstellar” will hit theaters.

On Tuesday, ArcLight officials gave a tour of the facility — the first outside of California for the chain and what will be the third movie theater in Bethesda.

“In L.A., it’s a passion brand,” said Larry Krutchik, ArcLight’s top public relations man. “There are legions of people who won’t see a movie anywhere else.”

Gretchen McCourt, executive vice president of ArcLight, said no advertisements before movies and no lines to buy tickets have a lot to do with that.

There will be a few trailers shown before each film, but no pre-trailer advertisements that have become common in multiplexes around the country. McCourt said a movie at ArcLight typically starts within 6-8 minutes of the advertised starting time.

There also is no box office. McCourt said about 60 percent of the theater’s ticket sales are done online or through a mobile phone app before customers even enter the theater. The seats are numbered and seating is pre-reserved, meaning there are just a few electronic kiosks to purchase or print tickets in the lobby.

The theaters at ArcLight Bethesda range between 85 seats and 295 seats. One of the largest theaters features a 65-foot across and 45-foot tall widescreen. All seats are 25 inches wide with retractable, double-wide armrests. Movie goers are invited to bring their cocktails and drinks from the bar into the theater.

ArcLight will feature a combination of big blockbusters, independent films, documentaries and classic films, plus memberships and special film programming.

Members get $1 off all tickets. General admission for adults ranges from $11.75-$13.75 a ticket depending on what time of the week. There’s a $3.50 3D premium charge. Memberships are $15 a year.

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm 247 1 Comment

Bethesda Row trick-or-treat, via Bethesda RowAbout 40 businesses and restaurants will offer a Bethesda Row version of trick-or-treating next week.

From 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30, the stores will offer deals, live entertainment and trick-or-treating for the kids. There will also be a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the Paper Source.

American Tap Room, 100 Montaditos, Aveda, Bethesda Bagels, Bluemercury, Bonobos, Calypso St. Barth, Capital Teas, Cava Grill, City Sports, Cork & Fork, Dolcezza, Equinox, Ginger, Haagen-Dazs, Icebreaker, J.McLaughlin, Jaleo, Kidville, Le Creuset, Lebanese Taverna, Lucy, Luke’s Lobster, Lululemon Athletica, Make Meaning, Mamma Lucia, Mon Ami Gabi, mussel Bar, Paper Source, Pink Palm, Quartermaine, Raku, Redwood, Roosters, Sassanova, Secolari, ShopHouse, Upstairs at Bethesda Row, Vino Volo and Wear it Well will all take part.

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