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by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm 229 1 Comment

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 266 2 Comments

Closed northbound lane of Hillandale Road in Bethesda

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 several months.

According to the 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.

Montgomery County Police issued an alert on Wednesday saying the repairs will keep the lane closed for “several months.”

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.

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 2,029 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 237 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.

by Aaron Kraut — October 17, 2014 at 11:20 am 158 0

Closed northbound lane of Hillandale Road in Bethesda

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has shut down one lane of Hillandale Road after part of the roadway buckled.

According to the Department’s Division of Highway Services, a storm drain culvert under the roadway was found to be degraded.

That led to an emergency pavement repair on Thursday. On Friday morning, the northbound lane of Hillandale Road starting at Little Falls Parkway was still closed.

A Montgomery County official was on site inspecting the damage.

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.

by Aaron Kraut — October 17, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,116 0

With all of the much-hyped restaurant concepts and shiny new buildings coming to White Flint, Marty Magill thinks there’s more than enough room for a straightforward sports bar with live music and a casual dining room.

Magill and crew are hosting a soft opening of Qunicy’s South Bar and Grille this weekend, with an official grand opening expected next week.

The restaurant has a 36-seat bar, 18 TVs with any sports offerings you can think of and a menu that closely mirrors that of Quincy’s Bar and Grille in Gaithersburg.

Magill and his wife Alexis bought that restaurant in 2008. They saw Quincy’s South (11401 Woodglen Dr.) as an opportunity to build a “neighborhood place at a good price point,” where there isn’t a whole lot of the same.

“I think we’re going to wiggle ourselves into a little niche here,” Magill said. “This is the kind of place, where if you have $40 or $20 in your pocket, you can have a burger and a couple of beers and have a good time.”

The kitchen, helmed by former Royal Mile Pub chef Bryan Ortiz, will offer wings, chicken tenders, all the typical appetizers associated with a sports bar and American fare including burgers, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, a Crab Cake Platter and Guinness Braised brisket.

Entrees run in the $13-$15 range, sandwiches and burgers run from $9-$12 and soups and salads go from $6-$13. Magill said the restaurant’s happy hour will run from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. each weekday, with various weekend specials and live music four nights a week.

Magill said he was able to provide relatively cheap menu prices because of a relatively cheap rent.

The bar’s building is set for redevelopment as part of JBG’s North Bethesda Market II project. The roughly 300-foot, 400-unit glass residential building will one day be Montgomery County’s tallest.

Magill said he’s been told the start of that project could be five years off, or even longer — enough time to establish the Quincy’s brand in a rapidly redeveloping White Flint/North Bethesda area.

by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm 254 0

The Behemoth Burger, now at Bowlmor Bethesda The Chi-Town Mega Dog, now at Bowlmor Bethesda

In case bowling happens to increase your appetite, the Bowlmor Lanes location in Bethesda has a couple of giant new menu items it announced Wednesday.

Bowlmor unveiled a new menu that will include the Behemoth Burger, a five-pound, 14-inch round “party burger” served with all the toppings and, thankfully, made for sharing.

There’s also the Chi-Town Mega Dog, a two-foot hot dog topped with peppers, diced onions, sliced pickles, tomatoes, mustard and neon relish.

If somehow you’d like to eat desert after one of those, there’s also the Monster Cookie Melt, a big cookie literally served in a skillet pan and blanketed with vanilla ice cream, chocolate, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Bowlmor (5353 Westbard Ave.) is also adding new items to its regular menu, including a breakfast burger with hash browns, a fried egg and bacon and an artisan flatbread.

Bowlmor executive chef Edward Porter recently won Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and seems to be taking host Guy Fieri’s love of greasy diner food to heart.

The five-pound burger, of course, pales in comparison to the gigantic offering of local burger chain BGR The Burger Joint. BGR features the “9 pounder,” which really weighs more than 15 pounds when toppings and bread are added.

Photos via Bowlmor Lanes

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm 1,133 6 Comments

The former Vapiano space at 4900 Hampden Lane

A Greek restaurant with a famous chef and a well-regarded D.C. flagship is rumored to be taking over the Bethesda Row space just vacated by Vapiano.

According to popular restaurant message board DonRockwell.com, Kapnos will be filling the spot at 4900 Hampden Lane.

The 14th Street hangout from celebrity chef Mike Isabella recently announced it would be opening another location in Arlington. A representative of the restaurant couldn’t be reached.

Vanessa Rodriguez, senior marketing manager for property owner Federal Realty, said the company couldn’t confirm Kapnos is on the way.

“Federal Realty is under final negotiation with a chef-driven restaurant to be located in the former Vapiano’s restaurant space,” read a statement provided by Federal Realty. “We are excited at the possibilities of this exciting concept. Once lease details are finalized, we can provide further details.”

Isabella made his name with Graffiato, the Italian spot he opened in 2011 in D.C., and his appearance on season six of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Chef George Pagonis, who Isabella tabbed to helm kitchen operations at Kapnos, will make his “Top Chef” debut when the newest season debuts Wednesday.

Image via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm 187 1 Comment

Bethesda Elementary Central Farm Market, via RealTimeFarms.comThe Bethesda Central Farm Market will be closed this Sunday as the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot is used as a staging ground.

Artists at this weekend’s Bethesda Row Arts Festival will use the space — usually home to the popular farmers market — to park trucks and other equipment before setting up on Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street in Bethesda Row.

Many of the regular Bethesda farmers market vendors will be at the regular Saturday Pike Central Farm Market (5992 Executive Blvd.) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and the Sunday Mosaic Central Farm Market in Fairfax.

The Bethesda market will return Sunday, Oct. 26 and run every week through December.

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm 303 4 Comments

As Time Goes Buy storefront on Norfolk Avenue

An art deco furniture and design store called As Time Goes Buy is setting up in a vacant Woodmont Triangle spot for an expected grand opening this weekend.

The people behind the store put up a sign announcing the new business this week. A Facebook page for the store said it was supposed to open on Wednesday, but now that the opening has been pushed back to this weekend.

Inside is furniture and accessories that fill what was once a frozen yogurt shop. The space (7920 Norfolk Ave.) has been vacant since March, though the frozen yogurt shop there closed as early as January.

The sign promises, “A collection of historic artifacts that reflect ‘a moment in time’ as seen through the artistry of famous and also little known, often obscure, brilliant artists and designers of the day…”

Douglas Development owns the spot, next door to the Rock Bottom Brewery and on the first floor of an 11-story office building.

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 11:35 am 0

A few Bethesda startups could use your help.

A dozen local entrepreneurs got on the Startup Maryland bus earlier this month to record brief pitches for their companies. The videos, shot in the back of the bus while it was parked in front of Bethesda’s UberOffices, are now online.

Through the end of the month, a panel of angel and venture capitalist investors will review the 147 pitch videos shot across the state and select eight finalists that will move on to a major investor expos later this year.

At the TEDCO Entrepreneur Expo on Nov. 12, the eight finalists will get a chance to make a longer and more comprehensive pitch. The winner and runner-up will then be go to another pitch competition and be up for a $100,000 grant from the state.

Startup Maryland bus(file photo)The program is also looking for three “Fan Favorites,” to be determined by the pitches that get the most views and likes on YouTube.

Among the Bethesda entrepreneurs that made their pitch on the bus are Lisa Friedlander, who started Activity Rocket, what she described as “the Open Table for kids’ classes, camps and sports.”

Cherian Thomas, CEO of local restaurant app Spotluck, pitched his startup as a way to bring yield management to the dining industry. Sarah Kavanagh, who started Bethesda-based software management company Quatrove, also made her pitch.

The three pitches with the most views and likes by noon on Oct. 31 will win the competition.

Video via Startup Maryland

by Aaron Kraut — October 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm 1,243 12 Comments

New traffic signals at Arlington Road and the Bradley Shopping Center entrance

It won’t be long before those who frequent Arlington Road will have a new set of traffic signals to look out for.

As part of the apartment project at the former site of the Arlington Road post office, Montgomery County has installed a set of new traffic lights and crosswalk signals at Arlington Road and the north entrance to the Bradley Shopping Center.

The five-floor, 140-unit apartment from Philadelphia-based developer Keating appears close to completion. Operational traffic signals are required before occupancy permits can be issued.

New crosswalk signals at Arlington Road and the Bradley Shopping Center entranceThe new traffic lights are set up at the south side of the apartment project, where there will be a drop-off area and where drivers will be leaving an underground parking garage.

That 211-space garage will accommodate 44 fewer peak-hour trips during weekday mornings and 19 fewer peak-hour trips during the evening rush hour than the Post Office generated, according to County Planning staff.

The apartment’s ground floor retail space will be leased by Ourisman Volkswagen of Bethesda — which is moving its showroom from Tenleytown to the 7,000-square foot space.

by Aaron Kraut — October 14, 2014 at 7:40 am 2,926 18 Comments

Vapiano Bethesda is closed

RELATED: Kapnos Taverna is rumored to be taking Vapiano’s place.

Vapiano has closed in Bethesda.

The cafeteria-style pasta, pizza, salad and antipasti eatery that took up a big chunk of Bethesda Row announced it “is closed for business” with a sign on the front door Monday night.

The chain started in 2002 in Germany and has grown to more than 100 locations across Europe and North America, including two in downtown D.C.

The Bethesda location opened on the corner of Hampden Lane and Woodmont Avenue (4900 Hampden Lane) in September 2010.

Customers were given “Vapiano cards” to scan once they picked out a dish. A cook would then custom-make the selection and customers paid by scanning the card again before leaving.

Across Woodmont Avenue, the vacant former Kraze Burgers space remains empty after the burger place closed in January.

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