Sunday, January 27, 2008


Westwood Shopping Center
Store to Add New Features

I was there last week when the construction began. Or deconstruction. Apparently, the remodeling will occur during shopping hours. The first sign of the renovation was a trailer/boxcar which was left in the parking lot over by the RiteAid. Then a larger, fenced-off area was created with signs that say, "No Trespassing" around the fence.

The first night of the renovation, a gate on that fence was opened, and men were going in and out. Suddenly, the parking lot began to fill with pickup trucks, work vans, and small vehicles which were driven into, and inside, the store.

Inside, sounds of hammering filled the air. The wall over the meat, bakery, and seafood counters was being stripped. It did say M E A T high on the wall over the meat counter. Then the big T was carefully removed and brought down. M E A. M E. M. And then it was just blank.

A mailing has gone to all customers with 5% coupons for each week, and for free eggs, free Skippy peanut butter, and a free, reusable Giant bag. It also lists the new amenities that will be added to the store during the renovation: a new prepared foods area near the front of the store for takeout purposes; a Starbucks in the store (I hope they have decaf because I've not much use for coffee at night); a new system that supposedly will allow you to check out items as you put them in your basket, and then you pay at the front when you are finished; and an expanded selection of "natural foods." I guess that is supposed to compete with Whole Foods down on River Road. It seems like most people in the neighborhood shop at both stores anyway.

Out in the parking lot, a man carried the old wall panels to the fenced area and took them into the gate. Most immediately, it remains to be seen how disruptive, dirty, and/or noisy the renovation will be during shopping hours.

When the project is finished, then the question will be: were the renovations enough to compete with not only Whole Foods, but Wegman's and Harris Teeter, the upscale grocery stores that cater to a wealthy demographic. The thing that seems to be missing, is the in-store fine dining that Wegman's and Harris Teeter offer. At those stores, customers can sit down either at a counter on stools, or at restaurant-style tables, and order gourmet food and fine wines by the glass. These include fresh seafood, fresh sushi -as opposed to the pre-packaged grocery store sushi; and other upscale menu items.

The renovations will probably be acceptable for those of us who are long-time residents and customers. But newer residents may be expecting more. Without the critical in-store dining option, the "new" Giant still will not be a cutting-edge, first class, upscale grocery store. I really hope that Giant examines adding that in the future. Of course, with the impending redevelopment of the Westwood Center and Westbard Sector, we really don't have much information yet on what the future holds.


Montgomery County continues to experience an increase in violent crime. Four more violent crimes occurred in the last week alone.


There have been many delays but the new location of Sushi-Ko in the Chevy Chase Center (near Clyde's, Potomac Pizza, Lacoste, etc.) is rumored to be opening in February. There is plenty of paid parking but you can also take the 23 Ride On bus to the Friendship Heights Metro Station across the street.

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