28°Snow

by Aaron Kraut — January 26, 2015 at 9:15 am 0

Battery Lane, NIH and Naval Support Activity Bethesda (home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)

Local leaders hope a new list of military discounts in Bethesda and Chevy Chase can foster a deeper connection between businesses and many who work at Naval Support Activity Bethesda base on Rockville Pike.

The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Bethesda Urban Partnership, Yellow Ribbon Fund and the county government’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center started searching for interested businesses last year.

Nearly 40 businesses (mostly restaurants but also specialty retailers, a hotel, a law firm and Strathmore) are offering specials that for the most part range from 10 percent-20 percent for active duty military personnel and first responders with ID.

Some are offering the discounts for military and first responder dependents with valid ID.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund, a wounded warrior nonprofit based in Woodmont Triangle, helped look for restaurants and retailers to take part to help welcome injured combat veterans getting treatment at Walter Reed and their visiting families.

Walter Reed’s 2011 move to Naval Support Activity Bethesda and expansion to the campus is expected to increase the number of annual visitors to the base to 1 million, up from 500,000.

by Aaron Kraut — January 23, 2015 at 10:30 am 2,366 23 Comments

Rendering via 7001 Arlington

Correction: Keating, the company we previously reported was the developer of the 7001 Arlington building, is no longer involved in the project.

The five-floor, 140-unit apartment building coming to the former spot of the Arlington Road Post Office may also take the title of most expensive in downtown Bethesda.

7001 Arlington, developed and managed by Ohio-based Associated Estates, has launched a website and opened a leasing office above the nearby CVS at 6917 Arlington Road.

The property includes access to the adjacent Capital Crescent Trail and is expecting to start move-ins in March.

It won’t be a cheap building to get into.

The website lists its smallest unit — a 623-square-foot studio — as starting at $2,305 a month. A 685-square-foot one-bedroom starts at $2,605 a month and a 704-square-foot one-bedroom starts at $2,680 a month.

That could very well be the most expensive in the downtown Bethesda apartment market.

Bainbridge Bethesda (4918 St Elmo Avenue) opened last year with 540-square foot apartments starting at $2,020 a month. Those units were sold out by the building’s official opening.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 22, 2015 at 4:35 pm 413 13 Comments

White Flint/North Bethesda/Pike District, as seen from aboveDespite the White Flint area’s new name, a county-organized website set to launch soon won’t forget its history.

PikeDistrict.org will serve as the official website for all things Pike District — the moniker generated from a branding study of the White Flint area paid for major developers.

Ken Hartman, director of the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, has been overseeing development of the website along with the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee.

On Thursday, Hartman posted the “History of the Pike District” section that will be part of it.

It includes info on the origins of Old Georgetown Road (a route once traveled by Native Americans and British General Edward Braddock) and Rockville Pike (a route associated with Confederate General Jubal Early’s 1864 raid on Washington).

The name White Flint pops up. According to the history, the first known use of that name was by the White Flint Country Club, which opened in 1930 on Rockville Pike near what’s now Nicholson Lane.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 22, 2015 at 9:30 am 633 6 Comments

PizzaPass, via Facebook

Updated at 2:25 p.m. – A Craigslist ad offering up restaurant equipment and supplies indicates Bethesda’s PizzaPass is preparing to close on St. Elmo Avenue.

But owner John Foster said the restaurant is not closing, rather selling off extra gear after changing concepts. The ad, first reported by blogger Robert Dyer, was originally titled “Restaurant Closing!!! Selling Everything!!!” and includes PizzaPass’ 4924 St Elmo Avenue address.

Foster said the title of the ad was meant to drum up more interest in the extra equipment. He’s had trouble finding interested buyers so far.

“It’s no secret that we’re struggling,” Foster said. “But we’re not closing. We decided to change the concept.”

Foster and a partner opened the restaurant in December 2013. It featured Brazilian steakhouse-like concept of constant table-side service, just with pizza instead of meat.

Late last year, Foster reverted to a more traditional pizza concept, with small and large pizzas, carryout, catering and delivery. He said the all-you-can-eat model was leading to fans of the pizza coming in less than they would have otherwise.

“Our customers flat out said, ‘We love your food, but I feel guilty eating all of that food,’” Foster said. “So they didn’t feel comfortable coming in once a week. Some of them told us they felt guilty stuffing themselves. We’ve had no complaints about the price and now we’re starting to see people once a week and twice a week.”

The property is on the redevelopment block. The Lenkin Company, a D.C. area developer with its offices in the existing two-story building at 4922 St Elmo Ave, has proposed a 16-story, roughly 210-unit apartment that would include the PizzaPass and Chef Tony’s properties.

That project still must go through the Planning Department’s approval process and isn’t expected to start until at least 2016.

The Craigslist ad was posted Wednesday and includes booster seats, wine coolers, two pizza deck ovens, storage racks, a pasta cooker, surveillance system, grill and more.

Some of the items are listed as available Jan. 30.

Photo via PizzaPass/Facebook

by Aaron Kraut — January 21, 2015 at 4:30 pm 3,257 33 Comments

NBC’s “Today” show featured a county official and one of Bethesda’s most notorious parking lots in a Wednesday report on aggressive towing practices.

Reporter Jeff Rossen interviewed Eric Friedman, director of Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection, about the subject. Friedman has previously done interviews for ABC News’ 20/20 program on aggressive and predatory towing.

Rossen’s report also included a look at how quickly tow truck operators pounce at the small parking lot near the Mattress Warehouse store at 6930 Wisconsin Avenue. The parking lot is one of two downtown Bethesda lots Friedman has said bring his office the bulk of its Bethesda-related towing complaints.

Drivers often get towed after parking at the spots reserved for Mattress Warehouse and walking to the nearby Verizon store or U.S. Post Office.

Screen shot from Today show report on aggressive towing in a downtown Bethesda parking lot, via TodayIn the segment, Rossen’s producer left her car in one of the Mattress Warehouse spots before walking off.

The reporter claimed it took only about 10 minutes for a tow truck driver from Rockville-based Authorized Towing to show up and hook up the vehicle to his truck.

“In this case, the towers are hoping for one slip-up. If the consumer makes one wrong move, they can back in there, get that car and make $150,” Friedman said in the segment, referring to the $150 average fee for reclaiming a towed vehicle.

Rossen than confronted the tow truck driver and asked how he knew to find the illegally parked car so fast.

“If you get towed, you need to learn to accept it and you need to learn how to read the signs properly,” the tow truck driver said at one point.

Rossen pondered whether aggressive towing is “a matter of common courtesy.” But the tow truck driver, who went on to calmly explain the process to Rossen, did get the Matt Lauer seal of approval.

“The driver was pretty impressive though,” the longtime Today host said while chatting with Rossen after the segment.

Video via Today

by Aaron Kraut — January 21, 2015 at 11:55 am 0

David "Curley" Cornblatt (left) with one of Bethesda Cares' meals program participants in September, via Bethesda Cares

A local food truck owner is auctioning up a chance for a barbecue Super Bowl bash to raise money for Bethesda Cares.

David “Curley” Cornblatt, owner of the Curley’s Q BBQ truck, is offering a fully-catered barbecue meal for 30 to the highest bidder and at a location of the winner’s choosing.

The money will go to Bethesda Cares, the nonprofit based on Woodmont Avenue that provides counseling services and help getting into permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals in Bethesda:

The highest bidder will get Curley’s Q BBQ Food Truck at the location of their choosing for one hour on Superbowl Sunday (or another date of their choosing that the food truck is available) serving up each of your 30 guests their choice of Curley’s award winning brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, or gaucho chicken served with slaw, crab scampi mac and cheese and two ribs, all sauces and paper goods are included.

Last year, Cornblatt cooked up 50 free meals for homeless and low income participants in Bethesda Cares’ meals program.

The auction is being done through Rasmus Auctions with promotional help from Yelp.

The high bid as of Wednesday at noon was $227. The auction will end on Monday, Jan. 26.

by Aaron Kraut — January 21, 2015 at 10:30 am 1,082 8 Comments

Montgomery Row at Rock Spring, rendering via EYA

The 168 townhouses coming to Rock Spring Drive and Fernwood Road will be called Montgomery Row at Rock Spring.

Bethesda-based developer EYA is behind the project, which got approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board last July. EYA hopes to open a sales center this spring.

Sign promoting Montgomery Row at Rock Spring townhousesIt will be EYA’s tenth community in Montgomery County and follows the company’s Little Falls Place and Grosvenor Heights projects elsewhere in Bethesda. But this proposal drew attention because of its location — smack in the middle of a suburban-style office park home to some major corporations.

The 10-acre property for Montgomery Row is across Fernwood Road from the corporate headquarters of Marriott International and a short walk along Rockledge Drive to the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin. A building constructed for IBM in the 1960s sits just north of the site, an empty swath of land reserved for two more office buildings and a parking garage.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm 304 2 Comments

Photo via California TortillaCalifornia Tortilla on Tuesday introduced a “Ramen Burrito,” the latest in a long line of wacky food combinations and promotions from the locally-based Mexican chain.

The burrito will be filled with Asian noodles, rather than rice. It will feature either chicken, steak or pork. To get that ramen flavor, California Tortilla will top the burritos with a red chili sauce, “Sriracha pickled onions,” avocado, spinach, corn, scallions and cilantro.

“Ramen was one of the hottest food trends of 2014, and our customers are always excited to try new flavors,” California Tortilla CEO Keith Goldman said in a press release. “So we reinvented the traditional noodle bowl without the broth, but with all the classic flavors, and wrapped it up in a flour tortilla.  It’s one of my favorite new menu items, and I can’t wait for our customers to try it.”

The Ramen Burrito will be available through April at the Rockville-based chain’s more than 40 locations, including the flagship location in Bethesda at 4871 Cordell Avenue.

In the tradition of California Tortilla founders Alan Cohen and Pam Felix, the restaurant has kept up with a slew of zany offers.

California Tortilla, purveyor of free ice cream“virtual” pinatas and presidential burrito bowls. Last year’s polar vortex also brought a wind chill-dependent chips and queso special.

Photo via California Tortilla

by Aaron Kraut — January 20, 2015 at 10:15 am 635 13 Comments

Design Within Reach, a furniture showroom in Bethesda, has vacated its space, via Jason Yang Design Within Reach, a furniture showroom in Bethesda, has vacated its space, via Jason Yang

Design Within Reach, a national design store that occupied a large showroom in Woodmont Triangle, has left its Bethesda location.

Bethesda Magazine first reported the news. A sign on the now vacant showroom space at 4828 St Elmo Avenue advises customers that the location has moved to its Georgetown location on M Street.

The Connecticut-based company opened the Bethesda and Georgetown stores in 2004.

Photos via Jason Yang

by Aaron Kraut — January 19, 2015 at 11:00 am 717 0

Newton's Table (4917 Elm Street) will become Bethesda Barbecue CompanyThe conversion from Newton’s Table to Bethesda Barbecue Company will officially start today.

Owner and chef Dennis Friedman announced via Facebook that the former fine dining spot will go to full-time barbecue starting at 11:30 a.m. for lunch.

The change has been in the works for the past few weeks as Friedman and David Smelson (Friedman’s friend and “barbecue consultant”) look to draw in a bigger crowd to 4917 Elm Street.

While the new menu is ready to go, changes to the interior of the restaurant will continue for the next few weeks.

by Aaron Kraut — January 15, 2015 at 11:45 am 941 1 Comment

The former Freddy's Lobster & Clams will become Barrel & Crow

The Cordell Avenue space that was home to Freddy’s Lobster & Clams will welcome a new restaurant called Barrel & Crow.

The restaurant (4869 Cordell Avenue) has a its county liquor board hearing on Feb. 19. Co-owner Patrick Forest told Bethesda Magazine on Thursday that he hopes to open the new venture in March.

Forest is opening the restaurant with Laura Houlihan. The two worked together at Grapeseed next door. Jeff Heinenman, chef and owner of Grapeseed, opened Freddy’s in 2011 but sold his interest before it closed for good in October.

Forest told Bethesda Magazine the restaurant will offer “Mid-Atlantic regional cuisine” with locally-sourced ingredients.

by Aaron Kraut — January 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,087 4 Comments

Arsenal Soccer School camp from 2014, photo via Summerfuel/Arsenal Soccer Schools USA

One of the world’s most recognizable soccer clubs has picked Bethesda for the site of a youth summer camp it hopes will grow interest in the sport.

Arsenal, the famed Premier League team based in London, has joined with summer programming company Summerfuel to create what it calls Arsenal Soccer Schools USA.

For five days in July, the school will call Bethesda’s Norwood School home as it hosts an all-day soccer camp for kids age 6-16.

The program will include Arsenal coaches, with the types of drills and training taught through all levels of the organization.

“We always try to pick areas with a strong soccer culture with the hope that we can attract players who are already quite invested in the game,” said David Evans, executive director of the program. “It’s not so much brand building as really just giving players access to the type of training that really, until now, has only been available in England.”

Evans said the youth soccer scene in Bethesda, as well as its proximity to D.C. and Virginia, made it an ideal location. The camp will also hit Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and D.C.

While Evans emphasized the program isn’t for “talent identification,” Arsenal does have a budding prospect who spent time in Bethesda.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm 171 0

Montgomery County sealMost Montgomery County government buildings and services will be closed for business on Monday, Jan. 19 to recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday.

The county will also host its annual MLK Day of Service at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center (5701 Marinelli Road). The event will run from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and include a host of volunteer activities and projects.

Closures and schedule changes for Monday follow:

County Offices – Closed

Libraries – Closed

County liquor stores – Closed

Recreation – Aquatics programs and facilities open; all other classes and programs canceled; Administrative office, senior centers and community centers closed

Montgomery Parks — All Parks facilities are open. For operating schedules, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.

Ride On – Modified holiday schedule

Metrobus – Saturday supplemental service

Metrorail – Saturday holiday schedule

TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) — Closed

Refuse/recycling pickup – No collections. Collections will be provided one day later than usual for the remainder of the week, meaning the last collection day will be Saturday.

Transfer Station – Closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – Free

MCPS Administrative Offices – Closed

State offices and courts – Closed

by BethesdaNow.com — January 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm 489 3 Comments

Some of the products at the Bethesda Vapor Company, via Bethesda Vapor Company

By Orrin Konheim

Tucked on the second floor of a Woodmont Triangle building is a store that’s not just trying to cater to the hottest recreational trend but is also trying to save lives.

“I smoked for 17 years. Two packs a day. I tried everything to stop smoking cigarettes. The gum. The patch. This was the only thing that helped,” said Rodrigo Santos, 31, who co-owns the Bethesda Vapor Company with three high school friends.

Bethesda Vapor Company in Woodmont TriangleLess then a year ago, Santos was working as a manager in the restaurant industry. Looking to do something on his own, he posted a call to his Facebook friends asking if anyone wanted to co-own a business with him.

A high school friend, Jesse Flores, messaged him immediately and they linked up with two other friends — Reza Noroozi and John Shillfarth — from their days at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring to make the dream a reality.

“I wanted to do something different and wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own. This was kind of like an angel in the sky for me,” said Noroozi, who describes himself as an avid vaper.

Vape, defined as the inhalation or exhalation of vapor from an electronic cigarette, was the Oxford English Dictionary 2014 word of the year. Santos also pointed out that e-cig, vapor, and vape were the three most searched terms of 2014 on the internet.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 13, 2015 at 11:30 am 914 18 Comments

Construction workers on the closed stretch of Woodmont Avenue on Tuesday

There’s still no word on when Woodmont Avenue will reopen in Bethesda, though a Montgomery County spokesperson said the county should have a firm date in mind later this month.

The section of Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda Avenue and Miller Avenue has been closed since September 2012 to allow for construction of a new underground county parking garage, an apartment building and a condominium building from developer StonebridgeCarras on what used to be Lot 31.

In 2012, county officials said the road would be reopened in 20-24 months.

In July 2014, StonebridgeCarras Principal Jane Mahaffie said the stretch of road would reopen by Friday, Aug. 22, on the weekend before the first day of the 2014-2015 MCPS school year. Crews even placed traffic signs farther north along Woodmont Avenue to advise drivers of the reopening.

New Lot 31 underground garage entrance on Bethesda AvenueMahaffie also said the garage, which will include 970 public spots, could open some time in December.

But in August, county Department of Transportation officials determined that the closed stretch of Woodmont Avenue wasn’t safe because of ongoing construction activity on both sides of the road.

There also wouldn’t have been sidewalks or room for pedestrians on the stretch, which is still being used as a staging space for construction equipment.

The county said the road would be reopened only when the new underground garage was ready to open, which could be January.

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