Monday, October 31, 2011
THE LEGEND OF
Hi, I'm Conrad Bain, and this is a very special episode of Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row. A special Halloween episode.
Did you know there was once a Route 666 in Montgomery County? It's true. It passed through the Kensington Historic District. Maryland Route 666 appeared on old maps. The only information I could find about this road online was on a reference website called "MD Roads." It includes a very vague, brief description of MD 666 as encompassing Armory Ave., part of Howard Avenue, and St. Paul St., and mentions that Rt. 666 was the remnants of the old railroad crossing for then-Route 193.
But let me fill in some more detail: Old Route 193 was switched from an at-grade crossing of the B&O Metropolitan Line to a bridge crossing in 1936. Today, of course, we call this MD-185. Since the streets remained in use after the crossing was eliminated, the state renamed old 193 MD 666. Perhaps realizing that the route number was controversial, or as a simple cleaning up of unneeded routes in the state highway system, Maryland dropped the designation in the late fifties.
What remains scary today is not the ghost of Route 666, but the failure to build other roads smart planners deemed necessary for Kensington to grow. The old Kensington Master Plan process in the 1970s stalled out for a time for this reason. Planners specifically noted that the Rockville Freeway, Northern Parkway and North Central Freeway were mandatory to handle projected growth in Kensington, Wheaton, Olney and points beyond. MD 192 was to be widened and transformed into a feeder route for the North Central Freeway and Beltway at their interchange by Holy Cross Hospital. As you know, none of these critical highways was ever built.
A very ambitious new Kensington sector plan is now on the table. Unlike the past, no mention is made of new highway capacity, even though it calls for densities beyond those that past planners said would require new freeways. In fact, some are calling for traffic on Connecticut Avenue through downtown Kensington to be reduced in speed even further!
If you use that route, you know it can be at a standstill during rush hour as it is. So a slower speed than standing still? I didn't know there was a speed less than 0 mph. Now THAT'S scary!
Happy Halloween, everybody!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Don't be "tricked" into believing all of the Halloween fun for grown-ups is only in DC this weekend - instead, treat yourself to one of these Halloween bashes going on right here in Bethesda this weekend!
BLACKFINN BETHESDA 7 PM
"Think Pink Masquerade"
Ladies first! Wear a mask, or the color pink, and be eligible for specials. Make a donation of any amount you wish and enjoy pink drinks and desserts. Everyone can enjoy $5 Cosmos, Cherry Cheesecake Martinis and pink Champagne! Proceeds go to breast cancer charities.
21+, free admission. Enjoy special "Ghastly Treats" concocted by master Chef Andy, scary sounds by DJ Blackstar, cash prize for best costume, and even tarot card readings! Bottle service available. Goes til 2 AM at 7904 Woodmont Avenue.
"Jack the Ripper Halloween Bash" 9 PM-close
This party is so big it takes 2 nights, tonight and Saturday night.
DJ, dancing and they'll be spinning the Halloween Wheel of Specials all night. Costume contest at Midnight, with cash prizes for Most Original, Sexiest and Funniest costume. But wait - the Grand Prize is a trip to Jamaica!
BLACKFINN BETHESDA, 9 PM
"Jagerween at BlackFinn" Sponsored by Jagermeister!
$500 prize for Best Costume!
$4 Jagermeister, $5 Jager Bombs. $2 Dos Equis. $4 Sam Adams Oktoberfest or Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale! Will the Jager Girls be there? I don't know, but it's sponsored by Jagermeister, so take a wild guess. Don't forget the great new menu at BlackFinn. Fortify yourself for wild nights and temperatures in the 30s with Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf.
"Nightmare on Elm Street"
RiRa is splitting the pub into two sections: Heaven and Hell. You decide which one you belong in (only you can answer that question!). No cover, cash prizes and ticket giveaways. Live music by T'Akila Jones at 10 PM. Watch out for Freddy Krueger on Elm St. Saturday night!
UNION JACK'S (see above)
You can probably hit every one of these parties if you time it right, and the free Bethesda Circulator can drop you off near these bars and at the Bethesda Metro Center. Have a great weekend, and after it's over, the big day - Halloween itself - is still ahead on Monday!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
GO PRO CAMERA
$60 OFF AT
Get a brand new, wearable, waterproof Go Pro HD Hero camera with 5MP photos at City Sports on Arlington Road for $60 off the regular price for a limited time!
Watch the camera in action:
A City Sports customer? Ever thought of working there, or at the soon-to-open Silver Spring location? You're in luck! City Sports is holding two job fairs at the Bethesda Row store for positions there, as well as for positions at the Silver Spring location:
Thursday, October 27, 1-5 PM
Thursday, November 3, 4-8 PM
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Legendary Actor Defends Retailer on
Eve of Expansion in
Indiana Jones says Walmart is wonderful. A-list Hollywood legend Harrison Ford has weighed in on the oft-reported criticism of the mega retailer.
When asked by the Washington Examiner what he thought about Walmart's critics, Ford responded:
"[I]nformation is the most important currency in making choices and, you know, I just wish they had access to the information that I have, in deciding to be an ally in what Walmart is doing in the world."
- Harrison Ford
As Walmart prepares to expand in Montgomery County in Aspen Hill and Rockville, this is certainly an influential endorsement of the company's charitable contributions around the country.
One of the issues I advocate for is early education, and last year Walmart picked up the tab for FREE breakfast in Prince Georges County schools. This is the kind of philanthropic benefit Walmart could bring to Montgomery County, as it expands it presence here.
After all, to cash-strapped residents who make up the majority of Montgomery County's population, it is the "choices" Ford spoke of that every American consumer deserves to have that can be expanded, with Walmart in our community.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Here is exclusive footage from the invite-only Art of Safeway Soirée that was held the night before the new Bethesda Safeway grand opening!
Take a VIP tour of the event and of the new store through your computer or phone with this video, which is unavailable anywhere else online!
Stop by your new Bethesda Safeway and enjoy all of the foods in the video in-person. You can even dine at the Cafe in the store!
The event was hosted by WUSA9 anchor Andrea Roane, and all proceeds went to breast cancer research and awareness.
You can compare this newest Safeway to the last Safeway grand opening I attended, the 2009 Damascus Safeway (you also get the old Damascus Safeway in the video as a bonus!):
Enjoy the videos, and don't forget the Bethesda and Damascus Safeways are open for lunch with prepared foods.
BAR AND GRILLE
A new bar is coming to Bethesda on November 11! The Box Bar and Grille will be opening on Old Georgetown Road, across from the Bethesda Metro Center. Stay tuned for more details.
Friday, October 21, 2011
DC OUTER BELTWAY
ANOTHER STEP CLOSER!
Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board
Votes to Study
"Corridor of Statewide Significance"
Fabulous Friday in Montgomery County transportation news: Let me recap again what's happening that could one day reduce traffic congestion whether you are in Bethesda, Rockville, Damascus, New Market, Mount Airy or Westminster!
First of all, last month County Executive Isiah Leggett, in response to my question at a Town Hall Meeting here in Bethesda, said the long-delayed Rockville Freeway makes sense and would provide needed "connectivity" between growing employment centers. (He was equally emphatic that there would be no money available to build it, however).
Then Walmart announced it is building stores near two planned interchanges of the Rockville Freeway, in Rockville and Aspen Hill. It would make all the sense in the world for Walmart and the Montgomery County Planning Board to support a study toward construction of the freeway. Walmart could provide critical moral - if not modest financial - support for the Rockville Freeway, which would not only handle the increased traffic to their stores, but bring even more customers to them.
Of course, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation is already conducting a Midcounty Corridor Study, which could result in construction of the also-decades-delayed M-83 highway (Midcounty Highway Extended) to Clarksburg. The choice is between the master plan alignment, with a right-of-way that already exists (which is the one I favor) or a frightening alternative: the county would widen rural roads in the Goshen area, and demolish homes there. It's pretty obvious which option makes sense. The M-83 got another boost when County Councilman Craig Rice (D - Upcounty) announced that he supports the Master Plan alignment.
Finally, the highest-profile announcement was Virginia Sen. Mark Warner's endorsement of the Outer Beltway. Strangely, this was not reported in any local newspaper! It is a huge development, because the local media believe Warner can do no wrong, and he has a fortune he can use to sway his colleagues at all levels of government.
The only news outlet to report Warner's comments (aside from the radio show he made them on) was the Virginia blog, Bacon's Rebellion. Fortunately, James A. Bacon is providing in-depth coverage of Virginia transportation issues that are of interest to those of us in Montgomery County, as well.
So, with this long preamble out of the way, let me pass along Mr. Bacon's latest scoop that wasn't in your local Maryland or DC paper: As I predicted when I testified before the Rockville Planning Commission this past winter, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board has just voted to create a Master Plan for a "corridor of statewide significance."
This is code to the true believers like me: (whisper) "outer beltway!" It's kind of like calling the best steak in town a "product of beefy significance."
Bacon reports that Virginia transportation officials are insisting this is not an Outer Beltway.
But some other "true believers" in the Outer Beltway and freedom of movement on the Board aren't quite so coy - and bravo for them! You certainly haven't heard anybody say anything like this on our side of the Potomac in the last few years:
“My goal is river to river. We have connectivity needs with Maryland.”
- J. Douglas Koelemay
“The governor of Maryland has been contacted... Senator [Mark] Warner favors a river crossing. It’s in dialogue.”
- Gary Garczynski
Quoted by Bacon's Rebellion blog
I love it! And I'm looking forward to hearing Gov. Martin O'Malley's response to the Board, as both he and President Obama have said building roads and bridges are the way to create jobs.
I agree 100%! The Rockville Freeway, M-83 and Outer Beltway are three national showcases for infrastructure stimulus, so let's get started on them!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
IS COMING TO
The first-ever Oktoberfest in the history of Bethesda is happening this Saturday, 1:00 - 8:00 PM on Bethesda Lane at Bethesda Row.
Redwood Restaurant and Bar's Oktoberfest will be held rain or shine, and tickets ($32) will be available at either end of Bethesda Lane. There are two parking garages adjacent to the event. Taps will turn off at 7 PM, but special foods will be available through the end of the event. You also get to keep your collectible mug!
15 breweries will be there, from favorites like New Belgium and Magic Hat, to local ones like Flying Dog and Heavy Seas.
Part of the proceeds benefit Cystic Fibrosis.
Now that Bethesda has an Oktoberfest, can we start planning the first-ever St. Patrick's Day parade?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Second Walmart Near Freeway Right-of-Way
Adds to Growing Need for Long-delayed Highway
I feel like a Magic 8-Ball: All signs and indications point to the Rockville Freeway being built after half a century of delay!
Herman, set the Wayback Machine to the developments of the last few weeks. First it was announced that an additional 2,000,000 square feet of development was being added to the White Flint sector plan.
Then came great news for loyal Walmart shoppers who don't live near the fantastic Milestone shopping center in Germantown: Walmart is coming to Aspen Hill! Of course, that Walmart site is one-and-a-half blocks from the planned interchange of the Rockville Freeway with Connecticut Avenue.
Now, even better news! Walmart is coming to Rockville Pike just south of the Rockville city limits (and right near equally-great Target)! The company has struck a deal with developer JBG to replace part of the shopping center currently holding TGI Fridays, M&T Bank and Jared jewelers. Unfortunately, this second Walmart site will displace some small businesses, unlike the Aspen Hill property. I am definitely concerned about that, but beyond that the announcement of Walmart coming to Rockville Pike is all positive.
I enjoy shopping at Milestone, but with all the talk about driving less, doesn't it make sense to have popular stores like Walmart closer to residents downcounty? Hopefully, they will build a store in Bethesda in the future.
Of course, traffic is a concern as it is in Aspen Hill. Again, the Rockville Freeway is part of the answer. I am hopeful that this second store will help Walmart to get behind the Rockville Freeway, whether it is by making a contribution to the funding for it, or simply by providing a public show of support for the highway. The Rockville Facility right-of-way (currently known as the Montrose Parkway) is only a few blocks south of the proposed Rockville Walmart site.
Walmart is an influential company, and their support of the Rockville Freeway would not only help get it constructed, but would also provide traffic congestion relief to both of their new Walmart locations in Montgomery County.
Monday, October 17, 2011
The very first Toyota Prius V is scheduled to arrive at Jim Coleman Toyota by Montgomery Mall in Bethesda today!
A few months ago, the car of the future - the all-electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf - appeared at Montgomery Mall for free test drives. (The Leaf is currently in stock at Chevy Chase Nissan). Today, just a few yards away, the almost-as-revolutionary Prius V will give another hint at our automotive future.
Prius V is a hybrid, of course, which means it does require some fuel. But that also means it has a longer range than the Leaf. So you can take the Prius on a road trip across America.
What's the big deal about the "V," you ask?
First of all, it's the letter V, not "five."
Second, it's bigger for families and cargo. It's also 6 inches longer than the standard Prius. Yet it still gets 44 mpg/hwy 40 city.
Toyota gave Prius V's motor an extra boost from the starting line, so performance equals that of the smaller model. And a heating system to improve gas mileage during the winter.
Anything else? A stabilization system for bumpy roads. A dashboard that can sync with your smartphone apps like IHeartRadio and Pandora. A pedestrian warning tone for jaywalkers around Bethesda Row. Backup camera and radar cruise control. A drag coefficient of .29!!
So, call ahead to Jim Coleman to make sure the Prius has landed - 301-469-7100. Then grab your checkbook!
Will you be the owner of the first Prius V in Bethesda?
Friday, October 14, 2011
FARM MARKET GOES
Breaking news! Bethesda Central Farm Market has just announced that the Sunday Elm Street market will now be held year-round! That means every Sunday will bring your favorite local farmers, artisans, and prepared food vendors to the Elm St. parking lot between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenues.
This Sunday, the market is celebrating Maryland Wine Week, and that means wine tasting! So mark your calendar for this Sunday - and now, every Sunday - from 9 AM - 1 PM for the Bethesda Central Farm Market.
The oft-postponed Bethesda Row Fountain Ice Cream Social is finally happening this Saturday from 1-3 PM at the - can you guess? - Bethesda Row Fountain in front of Barnes and Noble at Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues. Cross your fingers! Count your lucky stars! Will it actually happen this time? Regardless of your opinion of the new fountain - my informal poll is 99% negative so far - there's no complaint about FREE ice cream! So plan to attend, and the new schedule will coincide with the Bethesda Row Arts Festival. Enjoy ice cream as you wander the stalls of 185 artists all in one place at Bethesda Row!
Saturday and Sunday, the streets around Bethesda Row will be occupied by art, artists and those who appreciate art: It's the annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival! 185 artists this year, and all mediums you might expect from glass to paintings to jewelry. Enjoy special menu items from the surrounding restaurants and browse and purchase artworks from 11-6 PM Saturday, and 11-5 on Sunday.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The big day is here! After a demolition of our venerable 1956 Safeway, and the construction of the new, two-times-bigger supermarket, the doors will open to the public at last.
At 7:45 AM, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot will participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony. 15 minutes later, the store will open for shopping. Then, from 4-8 PM, the store will host a Preview Party. Lucky downtown Bethesda residents who received a special coupon in the mail can take another 10%-off Club Card prices during the preview party!!
But even before that, Safeway held an invite-only "soiree" last evening from 6:30-8:30. I was invited, and of course I brought my camera and have the full story for you! Video coming soon!
It was a dark and stormy night...
But searchlights cut through the gloom over downtown Bethesda, leading an assortment of VIPs to the corner of Arlington Road and Bradley Boulevard.
A new driveway entrance led into the ground-level garage, where valet parking awaited. Then it was time to walk the red carpet(!!) into a small lobby area. One of two jazz trios performed as guests checked in at a table just inside the automatic doors. Some people may think I'm exaggerating when I say it was "invite-only;" in fact, those who were not on the list were turned away.
So no exaggeration here, this was an exclusive event. And, much like Vapiano and the Parva before it, this Safeway knows how to put on a Grand Opening. You know, as opposed to those places that just shrug their shoulders and quietly open, believing they will be successful without any publicity or marketing in the local community.
From the lobby, you have the option of the elevators or staircase to reach the actual store level. Like all health-conscious Bethesda residents, I approached the stairs.
But a coat check officer appeared to my left and exchanged my umbrella for a ticket. This saved me from lugging it all over the store. I told you this was a swanky event!
Climbing the stairs, I was greeted by a mime and two Safeway officials. At the top of the stairs, I met the store manager. I explained I was a lifelong resident of Bethesda, and he was surprised to hear that trains used to pass by on the trestle over Bradley Blvd., now used for the Capital Crescent Trail. (In fact, there's a great photo online from before my time, which shows a train crossing, and in the background you can see the Safeway sign! They should add that to the artwork inside the store.)
Speaking of artwork, in one of the most architecturally-interesting areas at the front corner of the store, many artworks were displayed in a silent auction to raise money for the cause of the night: breast cancer.
"The Art of Safeway" theme included an impressive painting of the new store by a local artist, entitled, "Our Neighborhood Safeway." One lucky bidder went home with the original.
Okay, enough about the art, you say, tell me about the food.
Well, the first stop for most was one of the generously-provided open bars (but due to Montgomery County liquor laws, this was the only night you will find booze at Safeway). One popular drink, especially among the ladies, was the Artini. Pomegranate juice was involved in some fashion. Champagne? Check. Wine? Check.
I've been to one other Safeway grand opening, and that was in Damascus. The Bethesda event was different in that there were many spreads of food throughout the store in addition to the usual sample handed out on trays. So this was an all-you-can-eat affair.
Rancher's Reserve steak was popular, as was the shrimp cocktail. Speaking of cocktails, the deftly-arranged Vegtini was a big hit in the produce section. And how about that picture-perfect produce, symmetrically aligned apples, oranges and much more. How many hours that will last today with customers picking at it is anybody's guess...
Cheese? Plenty of it. And an olive bar! I like different kinds of olives.
Chef Huda of TV fame was there in person, serving a special pasta dish she created for the event. On another TV note, WUSA9's Andrea Roane was the mistress of ceremonies, and noted her personal commitment to finding a cure for breast cancer.
Other notables in the crowd? I spotted former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, former District 17 Delegate Cheryl Kagan and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Richie Bowers. Also, Miss Alexandria 2011 Delesia Watson and Chef Donnell Long of the Old Towne Inn in Upper Marlboro.
Steve Neibergall, President of Safeway's Eastern Division gave a speech, and presented Roane with one of the art pieces made from relics of the old store.
Another such use was of glass from the old store in special, stained-glass-like exterior windows. And get this- some even light up and change color at night!
Other notables: the Halloween cakes in the bakery - amazing! Check them out. I haven't seen anything like these since the 3-D Spider cake at the Weis Markets in Damascus last October.
You're also going to find your Starbucks where you expect it. Self checkout is available.
One thing for future consideration is, shouldn't Bethesda UP think about extending Bethesda Circulator service down to the new Safeway? Just a thought.
Finally, as attendees exited to a jazz rendition of "Over the Rainbow," they received one final surprise: a hefty, jam-packed collectible Art of Safeway swag bag. I'll have that on video for you, too. There's even a loaf of Artisan bread in there.
Certainly in the spirit of generosity, and welcoming of the neighborhood, by Safeway that permeated the evening.
I thank Safeway for inviting me, and encourage you to try out our new neighborhood Safeway. Feel free to comment on your experience with the new store here, and have a great opening day at Safeway!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
IS COMING TO
Bethesda's full-service tobacconist, W. Curtis Draper, is making you an offer you can't refuse: "Cinema and a Smoke," Tuesday-Thursday at 6:30 PM, will feature a screening of the "Godfather" trilogy. Enjoy the world's finest cigars with one of Hollywood's finest films. Begins tonight with "The Godfather, Part I."
Friday, October 07, 2011
REDSKINS BYE WEEK?
Redskins fever won't cool off despite the team having this weekend off, thanks to tonight's bash from 9 PM - 1 AM at BlackFinn Bethesda!
One lucky attendee will win FREE TICKETS to the Redskins-Eagles game!
The "Best Dressed Cheerleader" in attendance will win $100 cash!
And everyone will enjoy $3.50 16 oz. Coors Light and Miller Lite bottles, $5 Three Olives vodka, and $5 Fireball Cinammon Whiskey!
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
SEN. MARK WARNER
Great news reported by James Bacon on his Virginia blog, www.BaconsRebellion.com - Virginia Senator Mark Warner has endorsed the construction of the long-delayed Outer Beltway, that would create at least one new Potomac River bridge.
Although many pundits declared Warner's presidential aspirations over after his 2008 DNC convention speech, others mention him as a 2016 contender. Strong leadership decisions like this will certainly make a more compelling case for his candidacy.
Sen. Warner says what I and others have been saying: if we don't build the Outer Beltway, Montgomery County will continue to lose jobs and corporate headquarters to other jurisdictions.
His endorsement is a huge boost of momentum for the Outer Beltway, as Warner is highly respected by the powers-that-be in the DC Metro area.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
MORE ON THE
ASPEN HILL WALMART
AND THE ROCKVILLE
One other point about the proximity of the Walmart site to the long-planned Rockville Freeway interchange 1 1/2 blocks south on Connecticut Avenue, is that this freeway access would allow the 18 wheelers delivering merchandise and groceries to the store to avoid local roads. All truck traffic would be confined to that 1 1/2 block stretch of Connecticut.
Trucks from Virginia and from Baltimore, Pennsylvania, New York, etc. could access the site from I-95 via the Rockville Freeway.
This is an additional benefit to consider by both the county and Walmart as a long term solution to community concerns regarding truck traffic to and from the store.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Walmart May Open in Aspen Hill
Close to Planned Freeway Interchange
Well, it wasn't enough that our area rose to the #1 rank of Worst Traffic Congestion in the World last week, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. This embarrassing "accomplishment" simply proved again the urgent need to finish our region's woefully-incomplete highway and transit systems, including new Potomac River crossings and - yes - the long-delayed Rockville Freeway connecting I-270 with the Intercounty Connector (MD 200).
And two weeks ago, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett confirmed the need for the Rockville Freeway, while lamenting that no funding for the 6 lane highway would be available.
Now a third burst of momentum promises to boost demand for the Freeway: Venerable retailer Walmart has announced plans to open a new store on the old Vitro/BAE Systems site on Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill.
This presents a clear case of mutual interest: Walmart will presumably add to vehicle traffic in the area, requiring a boost in highway capacity. And wouldn't Walmart be pleased to have a freeway exit right near its new store, which currently has no interstate/freeway access whatsoever?
So here is a great opportunity for Walmart to get behind building the Rockville Freeway, which would bring many more customers to their store, while keeping them off all of the local Aspen Hill roads.
Unfortunately, some on the County Council are rumored to be devising roadblocks to Walmart bringing its store, jobs and low prices to the Aspen Hill area (which lost hundreds of jobs in the Vitro/BAE closure, by the way).
First they will try to hold up the zoning change, even as they ram through similar changes for developers in the county every week.
Second, they will try to force Walmart to sign a Community Agreement binding them to various costly terms.
It's important to understand that Walmart opening on this site does not threaten small businesses in the area. It is hypocritical of politicians to claim this, because the same people support redevelopment of perfectly fine shopping centers and apartment buildings that result in the destruction of small businesses and ousting of low-income tenants. They are doing just that in White Flint, downtown Silver Spring, Wheaton, and soon in Long Branch and Takoma/Langley Crossroads. So they shouldn't suddenly claim to be the defenders of the little guy now, when this Walmart will have no detrimental impact to small business or affordable housing.
Planning Director Rollin Stanley and several on the council have heavily criticized Walgreen's excellent drug store in the Langley sector. Let's hope they recognize the benefit of Walgreen's and Walmart to the community, and the opportunity to perhaps get Walmart on board to build the Rockville Freeway that would benefit their profits, and quality of life in Montgomery County.