A Bethesda cookie store has closed after a local news station aired an unflattering report on its mice problems.
WUSA9 reporter Russ Ptacek, who does a regular segment in which he confronts owners of restaurants that have been shut down for health code violations, came to Cookies By Design (4913 Cordell Ave.) in Woodmont Triangle last month.
A voice recording at the store’s number said that after 17 years, Cookies By Design closed on March 30. The report was published on March 29.
The store, which blogger Robert Dyer first reported is closed, was shut down by Montgomery County because of mice but cleared for reopening upon a second inspection. In his report, Ptacek inspects the store himself and claims to find mice droppings that are “very soft” and “fresh.”
An unnamed Cookies By Design manager said she had only had two days to clean up.
“I’m doing the best I can,” she said.
Today the storefront is vacant.
Cookies By Design is a Texas-based national chain. Attempts to reach the shop owner and a representative of the national company were unsuccessful.
Video via WUSA9
Bethesda Patch reports a Dunkin’ Donuts will join a new restaurant from Tommy Joe’s owner Alan Poho at the building under construction at the corner of Norfolk and Cordell Avenues in Woodmont Triangle.
Also included is the above animated rendering of what the second-floor and rooftop restaurant and bar will look like.
Designs from Rockville-based architect Steven Karr include a 1,700-square-foot outdoor patio area on the third floor with 156 seats to go along with a second-floor full-service restaurant area with a main bar, seats and a private dining room. The rooftop bar will include 19 bar stools and standing room for 70.
The expected completion date is August 2013.
Video via Steven J. Karr AIA, Inc.
Maggie’s (4914 Cordell Ave.), Caddies on Cordell (4922 Cordell Ave.), Union Jack’s (4915 St Elmo Ave.), BlackFinn (4901 Fairmont Ave.) and Flanagans Harp & Fiddle (4844 Cordell Ave.) will offer food and drink specials to crawl-goers from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The price is $30, which includes access to the specials and a free snuggie, and $15 if you bring your own snuggie.
The crawl also includes a scavenger hunt with prizes. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bethesda boasts a wealthy population that draws upscale retailers from around the country, a praiseworthy collection of restaurants and an unmistakable surge of new residential development that makes it Montgomery County’s crown urban jewel.
But to many, Bethesda is still the sleepy suburban town that empties out sometime before 10 p.m., paling in comparison to the burgeoning nightlife scene in neighboring Washington D.C. and lagging behind competitor Arlington, where young people flock to bars and late-night eateries.
“I want you to know when I first used [the word hip] in talking about Montgomery County, people said, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not part of our lexicon,’” County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said at a recent happy hour celebrating development in White Flint.
The event was entitled “Can we make the suburbs hip?”
It’s a question officials are now grappling with. County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and Berliner’s County Council colleague Hans Riemer (D-At large) are in the beginning stages of creating a “night-time economy initiative,” according to a Leggett spokesman.
That push might help attract the type of young professional residents that cities and local governments crave. They fill transit-oriented apartment complexes, pay taxes while demanding relatively few government services and might theoretically remain in the area if they decide to start a family.
It’s apparent, though, Montgomery has a difficult reputation to overcome.
“It’s still not necessarily a true nightlife scene,” said Brandon Yu, a county native who last year co-founded a late-night shuttle service that transports bar-goers between locations in Bethesda, Dupont Circle and Georgetown. “There are plenty of bars. There are definitely individuals who go out. But I don’t think it will grow to a point of D.C. or an Arlington. It’s stable, but there are things that really inhibit what a nightlife establishment in Bethesda can do.”
Smoke BBQ had a big crowd on Thursday night, its first night after months of permitting issues delayed its grand opening.
Then on Friday, the water heater broke, causing a later-than-expected 3 p.m. opening. Co-owner Susan Lennon hopes all the kinks are ironed out and the Cordell Avenue shop (4858 Cordell Ave.) with a range of barbecue styles can thrive.
Pulled pork sandwiches (plain, with vinegar, BBQ or spicey BBQ sauce) are $6.95, BBQ pulled chicken is also $6.95 and the brisket sandwich is $7.95.
Platters range from $10.95 for pulled pork to $24.95 for a full rack of ribs and the menu includes $5 kids specials and a full bar selection.
A few doors down, Brickside Food & Drink is preparing to open. Across Norfolk Avenue, Tommy Joe’s owner Alan Poho’s two-story, outdoor patio-focused restaurant is under construction, giving Woodmont Avenue an infusion of new eateries for 2013.
Brian Vasile said the bar and restaurant at 4866 Cordell Ave. won’t be open on Jan. 21, as reported by a Bethesda Urban Partnership representative at a neighborhood advisory group this morning.
But it should debut soon after. Vasile, who with his partners owns Grand Central in Adams Morgan, didn’t want to put a date on the opening just in case.
The restaurant is taking over a space that has been notorious for high turnover. Bubby’s deli lasted less than a year. In November, Vasile said he thinks the prohibition-era style bar and partnership with respected area chef Andrea Pace can help buck that trend.
The Bethesda Wellness Spa is in the works on the ground floor of 4715 Cordell Ave., where the luxury furniture store moved out late last year.
Workers were installing light fixtures and curtains this week, though it’s unclear when the business will open. The spa will join at least a dozen others in downtown Bethesda, including the Blush Med Institute (4915 Cordell Ave.) which opened last year a few blocks away.
Smoke BBQ (4858 Cordell Ave.) has been in the works all year and is still at least a few weeks away from opening, but Lennon says the pair thinks it is a natural fit for Cordell Avenue.
“Bethesda is booming with all the growth and development and there’s really no barbecue around here,” Lennon said. “[Hage] got used to making food for a lot of people at one time and we stort of started talking about a restaurant. We saw it as a great opportunity.”
Lennon, who worked in the restaurant industry in Baltimore, will be the eatery’s general manager. Hage grew up and lives in Bethesda. He’ll bring his slow-smoked ribs, pulled pork and pulled beef that Lennon said earned him “a sort of religious following,” at Super Bowl parties and holidays to the restaurant.
Smoke BBQ will also offer homemade fruit pies, brownies, cheesecakes and other deserts.
“That’s a really important aspect of it, trying to maintain that tradition,” Lennon said.
Lennon described Hage’s cooking as a fusion of of barbecue styles. He’ll offer a traditional BBQ sauce, vinegar sauces and a hot BBQ sauce.
When finished, it will be a rare barbecue-focused spot in Bethesda. The O’Brien’s Pit Barbecue stand (8804 Old Georgetown Rd.) near Suburban Hospital and bigger restaurants such as Hard Times (4920 Del Ray Ave.) have also become barbecue favorites.
The owners of 4935 Bar and Kitchen, the restaurant taking over the space of Tragara’s on Cordell Avenue, are making progress overhauling the two-story space and are shooting for a late-January restaurant opening.
The upstairs banquet hall has come a long way from the spot that came to be known as a Bar Mitzvah reception favorite.
“Don’t get us wrong, we’re still gonna do those. We’re still gonna host parties,” said general manager/bar consultant Bourke Floyd. “We’re still gonna have a lot of fun and we hope that families and wedding receptions and all of that stuff, that will still be a large part of our business upstairs.”
But the more modern look, complete with sleek black furniture a sprawling bar and yet-to-be-installed riser for DJs and live music acts, definitely provides a different feel from Tragara, the 26-year-old Italian favorite.
“We have a chef from the French Culinary Institute. We have pretty dynamic cocktails and some stuff people really haven’t seen. We want to offer something that people don’t readily get in Bethesda right now,” Floyd said. “I’m not saying that there aren’t some great spots in Bethesda. But what we hope will set us apart from is we’re going to offer a top-dollar experience at a less expensive price than what some people are used to paying.”
Once the downstairs restaurant starts up (hopefully in late January, Floyd said) entrees will be in the $27-$32 range. It’ll certainly be a fine dining atmosphere, Floyd said.
The upstairs space, while offering the same menu, will be a bit more casual with the music and bar open late to customers on weekends.
While the dining area remains a work in progress, 4935 (at 4935 Cordell Ave.) is accepting reservations for events upstairs and will host a New Year’s Eve party.
Photo by Jane Mallen via 4935 Bar and Kitchen
Brickside Food & Drink, the Prohibition era style bar and restaurant coming to Cordell Avenue, is gradually coming along.
Brian Vasile, from the Grand Central bar and restaurant in Adams Morgan, is joining up with well regarded fine Italian dining chef Andrea Pace and his partner, Reem Arbid, of Villa Mozart in Fairfax to bring the 4,000-square-foot space at 4866 Cordell Ave. alive.
The menu, heavy on modern American appetizers and other fare, will be a departure of sorts for Arbid and Pace. But both were looking to branch out when they connected with Vasile and Grand Central’s Andy Seligman, who were looking to capitalize on the coming growth and development of the Woodmont Triangle area.
“For 30 years, I’ve been in fine dining, so I wanted to try a little bit more casual,” Pace said. “It’s going to be different. It’s a new challenge.”
Workers have replaced the front facade with three sets of retractable windows that will open and will allow for a separate room or patio feeling. Much of the decor will harken back to the Prohibition-era, with distillery pipes making up the shelves behind the bar and a reproduction of a Baltimore street corner’s famous “Vote Against Prohibition” mural on the dining room brick wall.
There will also be a 180-inch high definition screen showing games, giving Brickside what Vasile hopes is a “comfortable, unpretentious feel,” in a growing area of town.
“The bottom line is it’s thousands of more people coming into the area. If you’re a business person, then that’s gotta be great news, that all these people are coming,” Vasile said. “And they’re probably young, urban professionals who like to dine out at good places. Hopefully we can be one of those places.”
The space used to hold the ill-fated Bubby’s Deli, and some have even told Vasile it’s cursed because of the high turnover over the years.
“I don’t think places are cursed, it just hasn’t had the right people in it and hopefully we are those people,” said Vasile, who has started to introduce himself to some of the area’s other bar owners. “Bethesda is incredible. I consider myself lucky to be part of the community. In Adams Morgans, we have 68 neighbors and it’s awesome. Whatever brings more people to an area is good.”
“It’s a new market for us,” Arbid said. “We know that Bethesda is up-and-coming. It has a young crowd that’s attractive to us.”
Brickside is hiring now and set to open sometime this winter. For more information on its progress, visit the Facebook page.
The production company, which acts out interactive murder mysteries on Friday and Saturday nights at Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle (4844 Cordell Ave.), is putting on its “Legend of Creepy Hollow” Halloween-themed show for the next three weekends.
The plot is based on the death of “hometown girl and budding author” Tabitha Craven, who comes back to haunt the town of Creepy Hollow until she rests in peace.
Dinner and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets include a buffet meal and cost $47.50.
For more information, visit Do or Die’s website.
Photo via Do or Die Productions
Before the first couple customers got their free burritos today, the owners of the new California Tortilla on Cordell Avenue celebrated their grand opening with a burrito-cutting ceremony befitting of their unique style.
The flagship franchise of the fast casual Mexican chain opened across the street (at 4871 Cordell Ave.) from its first-ever location last week. But the formal opening, which includes free burritos and free soda from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., was this morning.
It drew a fast-growing line that stretched around to the Norfolk Avenue side of the restaurant.
Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Chairman Andy Stearn helped owners Pam Felix and Alan Cohen welcome the occasion by slicing the ceremonial burrito, which was a few feet long.
California Tortilla co-founder Pam Felix is crossing her fingers that the flagship store of the fast-growing Mexican chain will be ready to open tomorrow (Wednesday.)
The move across the street to a bigger location at 4871 Cordell Ave. is almost complete. On Tuesday, Felix and co-founder Alan Cohen were waiting for a Montgomery County Health Department official to finish inspections as they and their crew feverishly worked on some final touches.
The old location (4862 Cordell Ave.) has been empty for about a week as workers moved equipment.
The outdoor seating area, which Felix said might extend along the Norfolk Avenue side of the restaurant, will accomodate as many as 100 people.
The “Grand Opening” celebration is slated for
Nov. 9 Tuesday, Oct. 9, said California Tortilla Vice President of Marketing Stacey Kane.
On Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Ballinger will lead attendees through the process of making one of Mia’s brick-oven pizzas.
The event costs $22 per person and includes a gourmet pizza with up to four toppings and a non-alcoholic beverage.
To register, contact Mia’s General Manager Rob Gindes at email@example.com.
Caddies on Cordell is mentioned in most discussions of Bethesda’s bar scene and on Oct. 6, the golf-themed sports bar with the famous outdoor patio will be celebrating 10 years.
“We’ve been lucky,” said manager and bartender Lisa Gormley, who was a customer at Caddies before joining the staff four years ago. “Obviously, places come and go here. Somehow, we’ve found the right formula.”
That formula started with the three original owners, Bethesda natives Gabe Coulon, Chris Sansone, and Andrew Leach, who joined up to create Caddies (4922 Cordell Ave.) after working their way up at various Bethesda area restaurants.
Leach has since opened a new restaurant in Olney, which opened up a spot for Coulon’s brother, Rob, to join the ownership group. The brothers began at the now closed Rio Grande Cafe on Fairmont Avenue.
“We’re all local here. For a lack of a better way to say it, it’s that kind of “Cheers” feel. We know everybody. We know what they drink,” Rob Coulon said. “It’s a place where you don’t have to feel uncomfortable going by yourself because we all get to know you. That neighborhood feel is what keeps us going.”
The sports bar emphasis doesn’t hurt.
Over its 10 years, Caddies has attracted Washington Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins (“I remember having dinner with him right back there,” Coulon said), Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green and golfer Sergio Garcia, who signed one of the golf flags hanging from the ceiling.
Then, in what was likely Caddies’ most famous moment, there was former Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.
Riggleman, a Rockville native, headed to Caddies after he quit the Nationals job following a game in the middle of the 2011 season. In a moment that will live on in D.C. sports lore, he was photographed drinking with some of his favorite female fans.
“Yeah, well, I was solving the world’s problems last night at Caddies,” Riggleman said in a radio interview the next day. “Hey, I was big in there. My face is up on the screen and everything.”
“Everybody brings that up and that was a wonderful time,” Coulon said. “But that wasn’t the only time he was in here. That just happened to be the one that blew up.”
Caddies 10th Anniversary celebration is set for Oct. 6, from open to close and will include drink specials, giveaways and a DJ from 8 p.m. to close.