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by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm 1,180 7 Comments

Hamburger Hamlet/Du-par's in Georgetown Square Shopping Center

Casual dining chain Not Your Average Joe’s is officially coming to the vacant Hamburger Hamlet space at Bethesda’s Georgetown Square Shopping Center.

Not Your Average Joe’s founder and CEO Steve Silverstein told BethesdaNow.com in July that the restaurant was close to executing a lease for the 8,500-square-foot space with the hopes of opening in March 2015.

On Dec. 4, Silverstein and two others will go before the county’s Board of License Commissioners seeking a beer, wine and liquor license.

Over the summer, the property management company leasing the space had crews do a general demolition inside the restaurant to remove all remaining fixtures left over from Hamburger Hamlet.

That construction — and a dumpster full of debris in the Georgetown Square Shopping Center parking lot — drew the attention of many waiting to see what would replace the Hamburger Hamlet.

It closed in December 2013 after fellow California-based chain Du-par’s attempted a revival by making it into a 24-hour diner and eatery. Original Hamburger Hamlet owners Marilyn and Harry Lewis opened the restaurant — the chain’s first location on the east coast — in 1973.

Not Your Average Joe’s started in 1994 and has more than 20 locations along the east coast, with 15 in Massachusetts. Silverstein opened the group’s first Maryland location two years ago in the Kentlands community of Gaithersburg.

by Aaron Kraut — November 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm 0

Montgomery County sealThe Thanksgiving holiday will bring a bunch of government closures and free parking at all meters in downtown Bethesda on Thursday.

Also be sure to avoid southbound Wisconsin Avenue and northbound Old Georgetown Road on Thursday morning, as hundreds of runners will be taking part in the annual Turkey Chase:

County Offices — Closed

Libraries — Closed

County liquor stores — Closed

Recreation — All programs and facilities are closed

Montgomery Parks — all Parks facilities are closed on Thursday. For operating schedules on Friday, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.

Ride On — Sunday schedule

Metrobus — Sunday schedule

Metrorail — Holiday schedule. On Friday, rail and bus service will operate on a regular weekday schedule with normal fare and parking rates in effect.

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

Refuse/recycling pickup — No collection. Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Transfer Station — Closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters — Free. Meters won’t be free on Friday.

MCPS Administrative Offices — Closed

State offices and courts — Closed

Regular weekend schedules will be in effect on the Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving.

by Aaron Kraut — November 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm 403 2 Comments

Westfield Montgomery mall will be open for Thanksgiving and Black Friday

It’s that time of the year.

Quite a few retailers around town are preparing specials for Black Friday. Some at Westfield Montgomery mall will gain venture into so-called Grey Thursday territory by opening the night of Thanksgiving:

Westfield Goes All Out – The mall (7101 Democracy Boulevard) hopes to show off $90 million in renovations in a big way and will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The mall will close at midnight, just to reopen six hours later for a full day of Black Friday shopping, Santa photos and giveaways:

Santa Claus and his elves are now onsite through Christmas Eve, and with a Santa’s FastPass, guests may view and select their photo package ahead of time, pre-pay online and receive expedited service. Upon arrival, customers will have access to an exclusive entry line for faster time to Santa on their selected day. Shoppers interested in participating in the FastPass program can schedule an appointment and purchase their Santa photo packages online.

Back by popular demand, Westfield Montgomery is also encompassing the spirit of giving as Merry Makers return to surprise and delight shoppers with unexpected acts of kindness. The professionally trained actors dressed in fashion- holiday attire will spread holiday cheer by carrying shopping bags, expediting gift wrapping, distributing retailer gift card giveaways and samples, and even purchasing gifts for unsuspecting guests.

Bethesda Row Offers Deals And A Brunch – Check out Bethesda Row’s Events page for a detailed description of which retailers will be offering what on Black Friday. Mon Ami Gabi (7239 Woodmont Avenue) will be offering a Black Friday brunch from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Free Parking At Chevy Chase Center – It won’t cost you anything to park in the garage attached to the restaurants and stores at Chevy Chase Center in Friendship Heights. Parking is free the entire weekend.

Not Into Shopping? – For those who hope to skip the shopping on Friday, Montgomery Parks will open the Garden Railway Exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton (1800 Glenallan Avenue) at 10 a.m. The free exhibit features trains and trollies winding around detailed miniatures of the botanical garden, Wheaton Ice Arena and Glen Echo Park.

by Aaron Kraut — November 24, 2014 at 11:15 am 1,587 44 Comments

A tow truck company may be using prohibited means to find illegally parked cars in an infamous downtown Bethesda parking lot.

A tipster sent in the images shown here of what appear to be two tow truck drivers from Rockville-based G&G Towing perched on the third floor of the county’s Woodmont Corner Garage.

Photo from tipster shows what appear to be G&G tow truck drivers watching the Connor Building lot from the third floor of the Woodmont Corner Garage across the streetThe drivers appear to be watching the lot across the street at the Connor Building (7720 Woodmont Ave.), a place well-known for its high frequency of vehicle tows. In one of the photos, the men can be seen looking at the lot while their tow trucks are parked in spots nearby.

It turns out Montgomery County is well aware of the problem.

Eric Friedman, the director of the county’s Office of Consumer Protection and its point man on aggressive towing issues, said the Department of Transportation sent G&G a letter in 2009 ago advising the company to stop using its parking garage to watch the lot.

“DOT basically told them the garage can’t be used for their business purposes,” Friedman said. “We got them out of there once. It’s inappropriate.”

In April, the company successfully challenged parts of a 2012 state law that outlawed the use of “spotters” to watch for drivers who walk-off of private properties on which they’ve parked. (See the PDF of court decision below.)

Friedman, who has appeared on ABC News’ 20/20 program to talk about the predatory towing issue, said the state law outlawed employees who were “primarily” used as spotters, meaning tow truck drivers who also watch parking lots may be allowed.

“G&G gets upset when you call it predatory. They prefer aggressive. We call it overly-aggressive,” Friedman said. “But when they’re up high in a parking garage with cameras, that’s exactly what they are. Clearly the intent was they shouldn’t lie in wait and swoop in like hawks.”

Friedman said it appears the state will appeal the Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge’s opinion in the case to the state’s Court of Special Appeals.

G&G Towing, which often refuses requests for comment from the media, has yet to respond to a request for comment related specifically to the photos.


by Aaron Kraut — November 24, 2014 at 9:15 am 351 5 Comments

Once you find it, the Willett Branch Stream looks more like an industrial storm drain.

The stream runs in a concrete channel through the Westbard section of Bethesda, winding behind and under many of the area’s parking lots, landscaping yards and car repair garages.

Daylighting,” or restoring the stream to its natural state, is one of the biggest improvements Montgomery County planners would like to see in Westbard over the next few decades.

With that in mind, the nonprofit Little Falls Watershed Alliance led a tour of the stream on Saturday. Members pointed out all that’s wrong with it and a few dozen tour-goers strapped on boots to walk through a stream many didn’t even know was there.

“What the apartment has done, turning its back to the creek, using it as a dumping ground — I think is shameful,” said Alliance Executive Director Sarah Morse, while looking over the stream as it passes behind the Westwood Towers Apartments. “Streams and creeks are supposed to be for nature but also for people.”

County planners working on a revision to the Westbard Sector Plan have proposed requiring those who want to redevelop Willett Branch-adjacent properties to help fund the restoration of the stream. Those redeveloped properties would also have to abide by more modern stormwater and environmental protection laws.

Planners also pitched a new trail that would transform the stretch from eyesore into inviting parkland.


by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm 3,744 32 Comments

Photo via Roof, on Instagram

Roof Kitchen & Bar will close on Sunday, a little less than a year after opening in Woodmont Triangle.

Owner Alan Pohoryles confirmed the news on Friday.

“Unfortunately, the rumor is true,” Pohoryles wrote in an email. “We have a couple offers to buy the place and are working on a deal with them.”

Smashburger and Roof, at the corner of Cordell and Norfolk AvenuesPohoryles, the owner of the popular Tommy Joe’s bar and restaurant at 4714 Montgomery Lane, opened Roof on the second and third floors of a newly constructed building on Norfolk Avenue with the hopes of introducing a more high-end dining experience to Woodmont Triangle.

The rooftop bar became a popular hangout during the summer, but Pohoryles told Bethesda Magazine earlier this month that the inside second-floor dining room was hard to distinguish from the ground-floor Smashburger franchise.

So he changed the name to Roof Kitchen & Bar and altered the menu. This week, the restaurant added signage to the second floor windows of the building (7940 Norfolk Ave.).

But it didn’t make enough of a difference to keep the operation going.

“It has been a difficult decision to make,” Pohoryles wrote.

Top photo via Roof

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm 276 0

The Bethesda Row City Sports, Flickr photo by ehpien

The next retailer to open at Pike & Rose in White Flint/North Bethesda will be City Sports, the Boston-based sporting goods chain that is set to kick things off Saturday.

The store will be known as City Sports Rockville, which makes for another interesting tidbit in the ongoing debate over what to call the area around the White Flint Metro station.

It will be the retailer’s sixth D.C. area store and second in the Bethesda area. City Sports has a previous relationship with Pike & Rose developer Federal Realty. It has its Bethesda store at Federal’s Bethesda Row (7121 Arlington Rd.).

The Pike & Rose location (11600 Old Georgetown Rd.) will open Saturday at 9 a.m. The first 100 customers will get a free City Sports backpack with gifts valued at more than $75.

Also in attendance will be folks from radio station HOT 99.5, who will be giving away tickets to their Jingle Ball from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

City Sports will raffle off prizes including free shoes for a year, shopping sprees and Baltimore Ravens tickets, plus they’ll be refreshments and an Under Armour-sponsored photobooth.

Flickr photo by ehpien

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm 428 3 Comments

Positano Ristorante on Fairmont AvenueFor those looking to make Thanksgiving plans out of the house next Thursday, a number of local restaurants have you covered:

Brasserie Monte Carlo (7929 Norfolk Ave.) — Offering a three-course menu, with main dish options of sea bass, turkey, duck, beef medallions, a vegetarian option for $35, plus a $15 children’s option. Reservations are required in advance. Open from 12:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Clydes of Chevy Chase (5441 Wisconsin Ave.) – A traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, $25.95 per adult, $15.95 per child.

La Ferme (7101 Brookville Rd.) — Will be serving a traditional three-course Thanksgiving menu from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for $48 per person.

LIA’s (4435 Willard Ave.) — Three-course special menu featuring Maple Orange Glazed Turkey for $39. Open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Morton’s The Steakhouse (7400 Wisconsin Ave.) — Open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Positano Ristorante (4948-4940 Fairmont Ave.) — Annual Thanksgiving feast with dark or white turkey meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, string beans, bread and choice of pumpkin pie or apple pie for $25. Open 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. with regular menu available all day.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House (7315 Wisconsin Ave.) — Three-course dinner with oven-roasted turkey breast and sweet potato casserole, priced at $39.95 for adults and $12.95 for children.

Seasons 52 (11414 Rockville Pike) — Traditional Thanksgiving dinner and mini pumpkin pie for $26.95 per adult and $12.95 per child. Full dinner menu will also be available from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Know of any local restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments or at news@bethesdanow.com.

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 11:15 am 234 2 Comments

Peripoint Building from Old Georgetown Road, via StreetSense

A Bethesda artist is taking advantage of a vacant ground-floor space with a pop-up gallery just in time for the holiday season.

Elyse Harrison, who runs the art education-focused Studio Neptune upstairs at Bethesda’s Peripoint Building, will open AVIARY by Elyse Harrison from Dec. 4-Dec. 24.

The recent closing of Danish television and electronics company Bang & Olufsen has left the ground-floor retail space open in one of Bethesda’s most architecturally significant and noticeable structures (5001 Wilson Lane).

"The City is a Balancing Act," one of the works that will be for sale at AVIARY by Elyse Harrison, via Elyse HarrisonHarrison is getting set to launch a website along with the pop-up gallery, which will feature a variety of her works all for less than $500. She’s also set up a Facebook page with one post showing work on a 8-foot by 8-foot “big bird” piece.

“We see it as a golden moment. December is a great time to promote art,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s husband, architect Michael Belisle, designed the Peripoint Building — which was transformed into the three-story, triangular structure that’s hard to miss at the busy intersection of Old Georgetown Road, Wilson Lane, Arlington Road and St Elmo Avenue.

When the building opened in 2008, Harrison had Studio Neptune and Gallery Neptune on the building’s second floor. The gallery space has since been taken over by Bethesda Fine Art.

Once it became clear Bang & Olufsen was moving out, Harrison thought about the idea of a pop-up studio tied with the debut of the new AVIARY website.


by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 10:00 am 564 1 Comment

Inside of MET Bethesda, opening next week at Westfield Montgomery, via MET Bethesda

The first of the full-service restaurants coming to Westfield Montgomery mall’s reworked food court will open next week.

MET Bethesda, the upscale restaurant with a changing seasonal menu, is set to open on the second floor of the mall’s new Dining Terrace and directly across from the entrance to ArcLight Cinemas.

The concept comes out of Boston-based Met Restaurant Group, which has four other restaurants from owner Kathy Sidell. The 120-seat dining room with a 40-seat bar described itself as a “metropolitan kitchen and bar” with American dishes mostly cooked over an open wood-fired grill.

That means Whole Branzino with lemon grass, garlic kale and sambal asum, baby back ribs with grilled pineapple and an entire selection of “Char Bar” items described as “American Yakitori” — marinated, skewered and grilled beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables for sharing.

Below MET Bethesda will go Naples 45 Ristorante e Pizzeria, a New York City-based full-service Neapolitan pizzeria and Italian restaurant.

The renovation and rebranding of the Dining Terrace is part of Westfield’s $90 million infusion into the Bethesda mall. MET Bethesda’s press release is sure to describe the mall as “upscale.”

The restaurant will also have a 24-seat private dining room and a full bar program with a martini menu and special cocktails. General Manager Patrick Desotelle has worked at D.C. hotspots Le Diplomate and Zaytinya.

It will be open from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sunday. The bar will remain open until 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on the weekend.


by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 9:00 am 370 2 Comments

New White Flint Post Office location on Nicholson Lane

The relocated White Flint Post Office that was supposed to open in July is set to finally open Monday, according to the Postal Service.

D.C. area spokesperson Laura Dvorak said the new location (5056-B Nicholson Lane) will open at 9 a.m. on Monday.

It will be the first time the White Flint Post Office has been open since April, when the USPS closed its location in White Flint Mall earlier than it had previously announced.

The Postal Service’s lease at the Mall was up in May and with redevelopment of the mall planned, it started looking for a new nearby location last year.

The Kensington Post Office temporarily took over the White Flint location’s P.O. box service.

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 11:15 am 396 4 Comments

White Flint, as seen from above

A Montgomery County-led landscaping effort might be able to brighten up some gloomy concrete intersections along Rockville Pike in White Flint, while also providing the area with a more unified look.

Ken Hartman, a county administrator and director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, said he’s close to a $40,000 planting program for soil beds in the medians in four major White Flint intersections.

Miami Crape Myrtle, via White Flint Downtown Advisory CommitteeUsing some of the money budgeted for the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, Hartman told the group on Tuesday that the program would bring pink Miami Crape Myrtle trees and grassy flowering plants such as salvia in an effort to better establish White Flint’s identity.

Hartman said he still needs final approval to do the plantings from the State Highway Administration, which decides on all proposed improvements to Rockville Pike. He also asked for donations from private property owners along the Pike.

“If anyone is willing to partner with us, that frees up more funding in our budget in the spring for more stuff,” Hartman said.

Federal Realty’s Jay Corbalis said the developer might be interested and has looked into landscaping on two pedestrian medians that separate the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike from high-speed turn lanes.


by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm 1 Comment

Flickr photo by Nicole'

The United States Postal Service announced on Tuesday that it’s kicking off the holiday shopping season by delivering packages seven days a week in high volume areas including all Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda zip codes.

The seven-day-a-week delivery will include delivering packages to mailing addresses in the 20814, 20815, 20816, 20817, 20852 and 20895 zip codes.

The Postal Service said it’s anticipating double-digit package volume growth up until Christmas Day.

To make sure your package arrives in time for Christmas, the USPS also released a list of Christmas shipping deadlines for each type of delivery:

  • Dec. 2 – First-Class Mail International/Priority Mail International
  • Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • Dec. 15 – Standard Post
  • Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail/Priority Mail (domestic)
  • Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express (domestic)

Flickr photo by Nicole’

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 11:10 am 0

The Music Center at Strathmore, Flickr photo via Bill in DC

Last month, it was the 5th graders’ turn. Starting Tuesday, it will be MCPS 2nd graders who are flooding the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda for a series of annual student concerts.

From Tuesday through Friday, more than 11,000 2nd grade students will see and hear a performance from the National Philharmonic, giving many their first taste of classical music.

There will be seven concerts over the four days in the Music Center, the 2,000-seat concert hall on Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda.

Students are taught about the four families of instrument that make up an orchestra during the performance, via videos and images projected on a large screen hovering overhead. This year, the students will be able to sing along with the orchestra as it performs the “Little Train of Caipira.”

Strathmore said the 2nd grade concerts represent a $124,000 investment. This year’s 5th grade concerts for the first time focused on Blues music. The Strathmore Hall Foundation, Geico, Jordan Kitt’s Music, Capital One Bank and the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation all donated to the student concert effort.

Flickr photo via Bill in DC

by Aaron Kraut — November 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm 661 0

Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery

A local Greek restaurant and not-so-local lobster roll eatery are opening this week in Westfield Montgomery mall’s renovated Dining Terrace in Bethesda.

Cava Grill, which has a location on Bethesda Row, is opening on Monday with its Community Day event. Food at the fast casual stop will be free until 2 p.m. and from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m.

Cava is asking for those who come by to make a donation to the Micro Greens Project or City Blossoms.

Lobster ME, the Las Vegas-based chain that features lobster on a stick, will open Friday.

It will be the chain’s first East Coast location and it was built from preserved old growth timber from Maine, according to a press release.

Since last October, Westfield has embarked on a $90 million renovation and expansion of its Bethesda property. Most of the work came in the area that once was known as a simple food court.

Westfield expanded the space, gave it a whole new look and added the ArcLight Cinemas on a balcony up top.


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