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by Aaron Kraut — April 6, 2015 at 8:05 am 390 1 Comment

Photo via Mike Landsman

Frosh: Just Say No To Pepco-Exelon Merger — Attorney General Brian Frosh wrote in the Washington Post that state regulators shouldn’t approve the $6.8 billion sale of Pepco Holdings Inc. to Exelon. Frosh said the benefits promised by Exelon don’t make up for its reliance on nuclear power plants and its apparent desire to hedge the financial losses of those plants with a new base of ratepayers. [Washington Post]

Capital Crescent Trail Plowing To Continue Next Year — Montgomery Parks is making plans to clear snow from the Capital Crescent Trail again next winter. This winter’s pilot of the program cost $55,000 and provided plenty of opportunities. [The Gazette]

Bethesda Marriott Getting A New Look — The guest rooms, ballrooms and meeting rooms at the Bethesda Marriott (5151 Pooks Hill Road) recently underwent a complete remodel. The hotel also expects to refresh its main lobby and restaurant by mid-summer. [Bethesda Marriott]

Lingerie Store Calls It Quits — Celine De Paris (7706 Woodmont Avenue) has closed and cleared out its space on the ground floor of the Lionsgate condominium building. The shop opened in December 2012. [Bethesda Magazine]

Photo via Mike Landsman

by Aaron Kraut — March 19, 2015 at 9:25 am 349 4 Comments

Ribbon cutting of the NeurExpand Brain Center in August 2014 in Chevy Chase, with Dr. Majid Fotuhi holding the ceremonial scissorsWhen the NeurExpand Brain Center opened last August in Friendship Heights, top executives and the doctor behind it claimed their treatments could boost memory and actually reverse memory loss in aging adults.

Medicare didn’t agree and now the company is closing its doors.

In September, soon after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Councilmember Roger Berliner and Lt. Gov. candidate Ken Ulman, the federal government program stopped paying for NeurExpand’s “Brain Fitness Program.”

On Wednesday, the company announced that without Medicare’s backing, it had no choice but to close the Chevy Chase practice after less than a year in operation.

“Nevertheless, we did our best to continue to keep our doors open and provide services for our patients,” read the announcement. “Unfortunately, after enduring much financial hardship, we have finally reached a point that we need to cease our operations.”

Dr. Majid Fotuhia Baltimore County neurologist who’s shared his treatments on “The Dr. Oz Show” (among other media outlets), told Bethesda Magazine that Medicare didn’t think there was enough scientific evidence to support the company’s programs.

Fotuhi and his team of doctors said they had tailored a comprehensive, weeks-long program that could exercise and enlarge the hippocampus — the part of the brain that helps with learning and memory.

As people age, the size of the hippocampus tends to shrink. But with the right combination of healthy eating, sleep patterns, fitness and management of other risk factors, Fotuhi claimed that process could be reversed.

“I feel like Medicare did not treat us well,” Fotuhi told Bethesda Magazine.

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by Aaron Kraut — February 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm 388 2 Comments

Downtown Bethesda RadioShack is closing as part of the company's bankruptcy

RadioShack’s bankruptcy means the closure of three Bethesda-Chevy Chase area locations, while two stores will survive for now.

The electronics retailer announced last week it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after years of declining profits and larger cultural shifts that spelled doom.

The company put out a “potential store closure list” that includes the downtown Bethesda store (8125 Wisconsin Avenue), Rockville-Twinbrook store (1600 Rockville Pike) and Friendship Heights store in D.C. (4531 Wisconsin Avenue).

The Bethesda store, located in a hard-to-find location on the north edge of downtown, is advertising a store closing sale with all items 30 percent-50 percent off.

The Radio Shack locations in Westbard (5456 Westbard Avenue) and in Westfield Montgomery mall (7101 Democracy Boulevard) aren’t on the store closure list and appear to be safe for the immediate future.

by Aaron Kraut — January 20, 2015 at 10:15 am 639 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 5, 2015 at 9:55 am 760 0

Bethesda's LA Boxing changed to UFC Gym in November 2013

A boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts studio has closed in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle.

UFC Gym sent an email to members on Sunday saying that it has closed its 4834 Cordell Avenue location.

The gym used to be an LA Boxing location. Mixed martial arts outfit Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bought LA Boxing and in November 2013 changed the Bethesda studio’s name.

In the email, UFC Gym cited “current local economic conditions, rising expenses and increased competition” for the closure.

The full email is after the jump:

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by Aaron Kraut — December 10, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,455 8 Comments

At the 7900 Wisconsin building, Fitness First says it's expanding At the 7924 Wisconsin building next door, Parvizian Rugs says it's moving out because the building is about to be demolished

A Bethesda gym many feared would be booted out of its space by redevelopment isn’t just staying put, it’s expanding.

That’s according to a flyer placed by Fitness First in the window of the now vacant next-door space in the 7900 Wisconsin building.

The gym is the only tenant left in the office building, which is set to be torn down to make way for a 17-story, 475-unit apartment building from Chevy Chase-based developer JBG.

Last year, Fitness First Director of Operations Amy DiPasquale said JBG signed an agreement to extend the gym’s lease through Oct. 31, 2019. But the developer has indicated it’s planning to start to project much earlier than that.

In May, a demolition permit was added in Montgomery County’s database for both the 7900 Wisconsin and 7924 Wisconsin properties.

The 7924 Wisconsin Avenue property sits across a small parking lot from the gym building and is part of the high-rise apartment project.

The tenant in that building, Parvizian Fine Rugs, has for months been claiming the location is closing. Recently, Parvizian hung a sign reading “This Building Is Being Demolished!” and offering 75 percent off all rugs.

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by Aaron Kraut — December 3, 2014 at 9:00 am 225 4 Comments

Cooper's Hawk in a Chevy Chase backyard, Flickr pool photo by John R Whitaker

Spotluck Opens ‘Hub’ In Silver Spring — Spotluck, the Bethesda-based local restaurant discount app, is opening a new hub with 10 restaurants in Silver Spring. Locally-owned places such as 8407 Kitchen Bar, Denizens Brewing Co., Mrs. K’s and Pacci’s Neapolitan Pizzeria are among the restaurants participating. The app offers a form of demand pricing to entice customers to restaurants with discounts generally running from 5 percent to 25 percent off a customer’s final bill. The app’s founders say they plan to expand into D.C. next year. [Spotluck Silver Spring]

Video Store Changing To Dance Studio? — The French Video Club, a small French video store at 4930 St Elmo Avenue, will close at the end of the year before switching over to a Middle Eastern dance studio. Owner Yasmin Henkesh is also a belly dancer, and says she’ll reopen in the spot she’s had for years as Serpentine Studio after a renovation. [Bethesda Magazine]

State Regulators To Hear Uber Settlement On Dec. 19 — The state’s Public Service Commission announced last week that its staff and lawyers from app-based car service Uber had come to a settlement that would allow UberBlack and UberSUV to operate legally in the state. The PSC’s commissioners will hear about the settlement starting on Friday, Dec. 19 in Baltimore, leading to a decision on whether to accept the settlement agreement. The UberX and UberLUX services aren’t involved in the settlement. [Uber, PSC Settlement Hearing]

MoCo Recreation Has Immediate Openings — The Montgomery County Recreation Department is looking to fill immediate openings in part-time, seasonal and substitute positions at its community recreation centers and is looking for desk attendants, after-school program staff and support staff. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, the department will host a job fair at the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Recreation Center (2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring). Applicants should bring an updated resume and be prepared for an on-site interview. [Montgomery County]

Flickr pool photo via John R Whitaker

by Aaron Kraut — November 13, 2014 at 8:05 am 613 2 Comments

Marinelli Road and Rockville Pike, photo via rzultarzaba

Legal Squabbling Continues Over White Flint Mall — The owners of White Flint Mall and department store Lord & Taylor are still wrangling over the mall’s redevelopment plans. The department store went to court in July 2013 in an attempt to stop the planned redevelopment. Now, Lord & Taylor’s lawyers want Lerner Enterprises boss Ted Lerner to fly back to town from his California vacation home in order to testify. Lawyers for White Flint claim the move is retaliation for having the CEO of Lord & Taylor’s parent company deposed. Meanwhile, there’s still no known timeline for the mall’s redevelopment. [Washington Business Journal]

Locally Owned Fashion Boutique Closing Up Shop At Wildwood — Madeline, the locally owned clothing boutique at Wildwood Shopping Center (10303 Old Georgetown Rd.), is closing at the end of the month. Owner and Potomac resident Susan Rosen said a new lease with property owner Federal Realty would have been too expensive. [Bethesda Magazine]

Driving Test Prep At Your Local Library — Montgomery County Public Libraries are now offering free Department of Motor Vehicles practice tests for those preparing to get their license. The online practice tests can also translate the tests and make them into an MP3 format. [Montgomery County]

Citizens Advisory Board Looking For Local Topics — The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board is looking for topics of local interest to focus on. The Board is set up by Montgomery County and meant to advise county government officials on issues in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, North Bethesda and Rockville. Email Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman at bethesda[dot]citizen[at]montgomerycountymd[dot]gov. The Board’s next meeting is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) and is open to the public. [Regional Services Center]

Photo via rzultarzaba

by Aaron Kraut — November 12, 2014 at 10:50 am 1,479 21 Comments

Peripoint Building from Old Georgetown Road, via StreetSense

One of Bethesda’s most interesting pieces of architecture is looking for a new tenant, despite its spot in the middle of a busy downtown intersection.

Bang & Olufsen, the high-end Danish television and electronics company, is closing by Nov. 20, according to a report from local blogger Robert Dyer.

That will leave 1,800 square feet of vacant retail space at 5001 Wilson Lane, on the first floor of the triangular Peripoint Building designed to fit onto one corner of the intersection of Wilson Lane, Old Georgetown Road and Arlington Road.

Bethesda-based Streetsense is one of the companies that has marketed the vacant space as a great way to get into downtown Bethesda, less than a mile from the Metro and near about 1,300 new or expected residential units.

But it remains to be seen if retail in the spot can hold up.

Peripoint Building, via Peripoint BuildingBang & Olufsen opened at the spot, which includes a mezzanine and outdoor patio, in the summer of 2012.

Many have pointed to the apparent divide between the older, mom-and-pop dominated Woodmont Triangle section of town and Bethesda Row, with heavily traveled Old Georgetown Road as one of the dividing lines.

Architect Michael Belisle finished the Peripoint Building in 2008, explaining to The Gazette at the time that the location’s high visibility was a major attraction.

The former spot of the 1929 Sanitary Store is at an intersection where about two million vehicles pass through each month, Belisle said. Other tenants include a tech company and art studio.

The building at one point offered advertising space on a 13-foot-by-7-foot LED board along the outside of the structure.

According to marketing materials, the space would be ideal for a financial institution or upscale local retailer.

Photos via StreetSense, Peripoint Building

by Aaron Kraut — October 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 558 3 Comments

Fraiche Cupcakery closed at the Shops at Wildwood

A cupcake store in the Shops at Wildwood has closed its doors.

Fraiche Cupcakery (10219 Old Georgetown Rd.) announced on its Facebook page this week that it is closed.

Owner Nina Deva opened the business almost three years ago after running a successful cupcake catering and delivery service called Brownie Bakes.

On Friday, the inside of the space was cleared out.

“it is with a heavy heart that we regret to inform you fraîche cupcakery has closed its doors,” read the Facebook announcement. “thank you for your loyalty and for being a part of the fraîche family. we will certainly miss baking for and serving our community with sweetness.”

by Aaron Kraut — September 22, 2014 at 8:15 am 525 3 Comments

8300 Wisconsin construction, photo via J.D. Mack

Chevy Chase Woman Gets More Prison Time For 2010 Collision — A Chevy Chase woman who in 2010 hit and killed a woman getting out of a parked car in Dupont Circle, had 33 more months added to her prison term. Jorida Davidson was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in July of this year. Last week, she was sentenced to the additional time on her original three-year and nine-month sentence for negligent homicide. Davidson was found in her Chevy Chase condominium the night of the incident. [DCist]

Republican Council Candidate: Bethesda Has Turned Into Haven For Elites — Republican Jim Kirkland is running against incumbent Roger Berliner for the District 1 County Council seat and says Bethesda has become too white-collar. The lawn care business operator also said the county imposes unfair restrictions on work trucks and trailers and that police should stop doing drunk driving checkpoints. [The Gazette]

Woodmont Triangle Vacancies — A former salon at 7813 Old Georgetown Rd. and the Leahy Plumbing & Heating storefront at 4916 Cordell Ave. are now vacant and up for lease from property manager Conley Management. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]

Fashion Show At Co2 Lounge — Cesco Osteria’s Co2 Lounge (7401 Woodmont Ave.) is hosting a swimwear fashion show on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Tickets cost $20 and include the show, hors d’oeuvres and a free drink. [Cesco Osteria]

Photo via J.D. Mack

by Aaron Kraut — August 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm 4,181 26 Comments

Dave & Buster's closed at White Flint Mall

Almost three weeks after a federal judge sealed its fate, the Dave & Buster’s location at White Flint Mall has closed.

The restaurant, bar and arcade closed for good Wednesday, catching a steady stream of potential customers by surprise.

Last month, Judge Roger Titus gave Dave & Buster’s 30 days to leave its space at the mall, where it had been for 18 years. It was one of the last remaining tenants of the facility. Property owner Lerner Enterprises plans to tear down and rebuild it into a massive mixed-use town center project.

Titus ruled the chain violated the “radius restriction” part of its lease because it opened another restaurant location in 2006 at Arundel Mills Mall.

Dave & Buster's closed at White Flint MallIn court, White Flint Mall said it only brought up the radius restriction after Dave & Buster’s sued the mall in an effort to stop its redevelopment plans. Lord & Taylor sued the mall in similar fashion.

Dave & Buster’s General Manager Robert Solomon told Bethesda Magazine that most of the roughly 100 employees who worked at the White Flint location will be transferred to other locations. He said the games and equipment will also be moved to other locations.

An employee said any leftover ticket winnings or game credits can be used at other locations.

A sign on the doors thanked Bethesda for 18 years of patronage. The only major businesses left in the mostly vacant mall are Lord & Taylor and P.F. Chang’s.

A number of Planning Department approvals remain before Lerner Enterprises can begin redevelopment. It last went before the Planning Board in October 2012 with its sketch plan. It’s unclear when the developer hopes to return with more detailed plans.

by Aaron Kraut — August 8, 2014 at 8:00 am 1,835 23 Comments

Photo via Rita's Crepes/Twitter

(Update at 10:45 a.m.) The owner of the popular Rita’s Crepes kiosk on Bethesda Row has shut the location down.

Rita’s Crepes owner Rhita Douglass said a Montgomery County health inspector told her last Friday that the business was technically in violation of state regulations for mobile food vendors because it wasn’t mobile. Douglass said the business started as a food cart, then in late 2008 (at the invitation of property owner Federal Realty) began operating out of the stationary kiosk at the intersection of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues.

Douglass said the operation passed the food inspection. When asked why a county official would bring up the mobile cart regulations nearly six years after she opened the kiosk, Douglass seemed wary of placing blame on the county.

Kenneth Welch, the environmental health manager of the county’s Office of Licensure and Regulatory Services, said the county had previously shut down Rita’s Crepes for the same violation in September 2011.

“You have to have hot and cold running water,” Welch said. “Basically, she took her mobile unit and took equipment off of that and parked it right next to the kiosk, then operated it as a mobile unit, which is totally incorrect.”

She said running the business as a mobile cart — with a trailer connected to a truck or other vehicle — just didn’t seem worth it.

“It really isn’t worth the hassle,” Douglass said. “With the lack of space in downtown, it’s a really hard job to keep up a mobile cart.”

Instead, Douglass will focus on Rita’s Crepes’ growing popularity at local farmers markets, including the Sunday Bethesda Central Farm Market and Saturday Pike Central Farm Market.

Her crepes have quite a following and regularly attract long lines at the Sunday market at Bethesda Elementary School.

Douglass said construction at Lot 31 near the kiosk brought business down slightly. But she also said she would still get lines of six or seven people, which sometimes meant a very crowded Woodmont Avenue sidewalk.

She left a two-page letter to customers taped to the front of the kiosk.

“We are bidding our farewell while leaving down town Bethesda with a sense of nostalgia as we have developed relationships with many of you,” Douglass wrote. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your visits and those memories spanning the past 6 years. For me personally, the crepes were a sacred medium to reach out to you and I loved every minute of it!”

Douglass wrote of a man who told her he was in the hospital in critical condition. She wrote that the man told her the thought of returning to the Rita’s Crepes kiosk motivated him in his recovery.

Rita’s Crepes participates in five weekly farmers markets around the area. Douglass said if a return to downtown Bethesda materializes, she’d prefer it be in the form of a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment.

Photo via Rita’s Crepes/Twitter

by Aaron Kraut — August 1, 2014 at 2:45 pm 577 3 Comments

Calypso St. Barth opening Friday on Bethesda RowLuxury clothing boutique Calypso St. Barth opened Friday on Bethesda Row, just as another Bethesda Avenue business was closing up shop for good.

Calypso launched in 1992 as a resort-wear shop and has spread to about 50 locations nationwide offering upscale beach gear, shoes, accessories, clothes, perfumes and home decor. It’s hosting an opening weekend celebration Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the new location (4810 Bethesda Ave.).

Meanwhile, employees at the Picture Frame Shop are moving supplies out of the storefront at 4835 Bethesda Ave., as announced earlier this month.

The store has been in Bethesda since 1991 and hasn’t announced a new location, though its announcement this month including word that it was looking to relocate.

by Aaron Kraut — July 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm 1,063 3 Comments

Sign announces the Picture Frame Shop will move out of its Bethesda Avenue spaceA framing shop on Bethesda Row is leaving Bethesda Avenue, offering a half-off sale on all merchandise in the process.

The Picture Frame Shop, which has been in Bethesda since 1991, posted a sign on its front door announcing it will close on July 31 at 4835 Bethesda Ave., then relocate. It’s unclear where to.

The owner of the shop could not be reached Thursday. An employee at the store said she couldn’t talk about the situation.

The shop was known in part for its window display of random celebrity photos in sample frames. The shop did framing for photos, sports memorabilia, mirrors and paintings, as well as some art restoration work.

The news was first reported by blogger Robert Dyer.

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