Friday, August 31, 2012

NANDO'S PERI-PERI BETHESDA ROW GAME DAY SPECIAL

The NFL season is about to get underway.  But first, college football returns!  Nando's Peri-Peri on Bethesda Avenue is offering a Game Day special, through Super Bowl Sunday in February 2013.

Order 15 Double Wings on Saturdays and Sundays, and you'll get 5 more double wings for free!

Don't forget they have sangria, and are conveniently located right next to the parking garage at Bethesda Row.

BETHESDA LABOR DAY WEEKEND FORECAST, WILL ISAAC REMNANTS HIT BETHESDA, TROPICAL STORM LESLIE - DC BETHESDA WEATHER

The Labor Day Weekend weather forecast for Bethesda and the DC area is slightly better than expected.  Uncertainty remains about just  how much rain Isaac will bring, when its remnants arrive sometime around Monday morning.

While Isaac is expected to drop 8-12" of rain where it meanders in the midwest, NOAA's weather model is predicting only .10" of Isaac-related precipitation in our area through Tuesday.  Yes, that's a decimal point before the numbers.

Is that an accurate prediction?

I'm still skeptical.  There are at least a couple of atmospheric conditions expected over us that could cause Isaac, and non-Isaac-related rainshowers, to stall out in our vicinity.

There's also the unknown of whether there will be the potential of tornados spawning.  If I had to guess, I would say right now, that is unlikely.  But we won't know for sure, until we see what happens when Isaac hits those other atmospheric conditions.

Here's what to expect this holiday weekend:

High of 95 today, sun, and a 10-15 MPH breeze.

Tonight, mostly clear, low 70s, 5-10 MPH breeze.

Saturday, partly sunny, upper 80s, 5-10 MPH breeze.

Saturday night, mostly cloudy, upper 60s, 5-10 MPH breeze.

Sunday, it's hopeful the Bethesda Central Farm Market can get through the Bake Bethesda a Pie Contest, before rain hits.  40% chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

Sunday night, mostly cloudy, upper 60s, 40% chance of showers/thunderstorms.

Labor Day - this is when Isaac might make his entrance.  Mostly cloudy, high of 85, 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms through the evening.

We also have another storm to monitor:

BETHESDA STORM CENTER
LESLIE UPDATE

Tropical Storm Leslie is likely to strengthen into a hurricane by the end of the day.  Leslie may hit Bermuda, but forecasters say it poses no threat to the East Coast.  I'm not so sure about that, but we'll find out soon enough.

LOCATION:  940 miles E of the Leeward Islands

WINDS:  65 MPH

MOVING: WNW at 16 MPH

Stay tuned here and on Twitter at @BethesdaRow for the latest Bethesda hurricane and weather news, and have a great Labor Day Weekend!!!

DOES URBAN LIVING REQUIRE AN URBAN DETOX? - DOWNTOWN BETHESDA LIFESTYLES

NEW BEVERAGE
CLAIMS TO CURE
WHATS AILS THE
NEW URBANIST

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

With all of the conveniences of living in downtown Bethesda - and everyone seemingly having a gym membership - one probably doesn't stop to consider whether urban living affects health.

For anyone who has given it thought, a drink company called Function is marketing a new beverage to you.

Urban Detox contains two "secret" ingredients:  prickly pear extract, and the "smog-scrubbing super-antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine" (what was that rule about ingredients you can't pronounce?).

The company promises it will protect the respiratory system from "particulate airborne pollution."

Oh, and it will also help you "recover from a night on the town."

Not sold yet? It was "created by physicians."  And good for your liver, too.

The official drink of MoCo's urbanizing future is here!

What's the final irony here?  I searched for this at the Bethesda Row Giant, and they didn't have it.  But I found it in the new organic section at the Westbard Giant.  The drink for "city warriors," only available in the suburbs!

I'll drink to that.
I'm sold!  In the cart it goes, and I'm off to the checkout.

What do you think about this drink?  Is there something to those ingredients, or is it just marketing bunk, in  your opinion?

MY FIRST BETHESDA APARTMENT - A YOUNG PERSON'S WEEKLY GUIDE TO APARTMENT HUNTING IN BETHESDA, MD - BETHESDA APARTMENTS, RENTALS

Welcome to the second installment of My First Bethesda Apartment:  a weekly urban guide to the intimidating task of apartment hunting in Bethesda, and scoring and tricking out your dream pad once you find it.

Have questions about Bethesda - restaurants, stores, where to find "this or that?"  Just post them in the comments, or send me an email.

BETHESDA APARTMENT
OF THE
WEEK

1 BR/1 BA   THE CHRISTOPHER - $1550 a month

This is a 520 square foot, 5th floor condo at the two-decade old The Christopher, at 4808 Moorland Road.  The Christopher is a luxury building located in the center of downtown Bethesda.

You would be about a 1-minute walk from the Bethesda Metro station, in Apartment #501.  Besides being one of the most convenient buildings for a Metro commuter, there are 2 other prime benefits to this building.

First is the fact that a parking space is included in your rent.  Just ask tenants of some other Bethesda buildings what a cost savings that is.  In some buildings, the monthly parking payment can seem like a small rent.

Second, is that The Christopher has a pool, fitness center, party room and front desk security.  In a word:  amenities.

What's a short walk from The Christopher?

A Safeway grocery store, Chipotle, FreshBikes bike shop, Caribou Coffee, Original Pancake House, and two of Bethesda's top 5-star restaurants:  Black's Bar and Kitchen, and Woodmont Grill.  You're also only a few blocks from the most popular nightspots, and Bethesda Row.  You can ride the free Bethesda Circulator to and from Bethesda Row, also.

The most important part of making your decision, is to see the unit for yourself.  Good news:  the unit is being shown mid-morning this Sunday, September 2.  Just call Scott Phillips at 410-707-1133 to arrange a visit.

=[]=

SPLURGE OR FAKE IT

Spend lavishly, or just make everyone think you did!

Well, let's say you had bought that Crate and Barrel end table for your living room last week.  Now you have to put a lamp on it.  I'm not an interior designer, but just a guy who knows what he likes when he sees it.

I like architecture and other designs from the 50s-70s.  And many of the best came to us from California.  Recently, I heard about a new furnishings store at 510 H Street in DC called Hunted House.  On their home page, they have a living room set-up that is somewhere between a 1960s California home, and a classic motel.  In other words, it's great.  They have a cool 1960s lamp in the picture, but it's not available for sale.

So I found the closest California-inspired 1960s lamp they had for you:

SPLURGE

Volcanic Eruption Table Lamp from Hunted House - $98

FAKE IT

Hollywood Table Lamp from Target.com - $71.99

This week, faking it will only save you $26 or so.  So take your pick based on what you can afford.  The target lamp does have a 3-way touch sensor switch.  Either one brings a bit of vintage, golden-age California to your room.

FIRST-TIME RENTER
TIP OF THE WEEK

What is the real Bethesda?  Are you moving here on short notice from outside of the area?  And you want the hip, downtown lifestyle and convenience other college grads and young professionals move here for?  Beware of ads touting "Bethesda" apartments, when you see descriptives like Pooks Hill, North Bethesda, Grosvenor, White Flint, Montrose, etc.

Those aren't in downtown Bethesda, and don't have the nightlife or restaurants the real downtown has.  When in doubt, Google Map the address, and make sure its really Bethesda.

Have a great weekend, and let me know if you find the apartment of your dreams, in the Richest Town in America!

THIS IS IT: BETHESDA INSTITUTION FOONG LIN TO SERVE FINAL MEALS TONIGHT

A sad weekend for Bethesda diners in the Woodmont Triangle area:  After 25 years, Foong Lin will serve its last dinners tonight.  Then the restaurant will close its doors forever.  One day in the near future, developer JBG will demolish the restaurant to make way for a new residential building.

The double whammy this weekend, is that neighboring Haandi will mark its own final day on Sunday.

Will you be one of the final diners at Foong Lin today or tonight?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WILL BETHESDA HAVE BLUE MOON VIEWING WEATHER FRIDAY? WHEN WILL ISAAC HIT DC AREA? - BETHESDA WEATHER

What is a Blue Moon, and when will you be able to see it here in Bethesda and the DC area?

We'll have a Blue Moon here Friday (August 31).  There are several types of Blue Moons, but in Friday's case, it means this is a rare, second Full Moon within the month.

Blue Moons aren't actually blue (I know, I'm disappointed like you), but they are beautiful.

Fortunately, we'll have great Blue Moon-viewing weather here in Bethesda tomorrow.  It will be sunny all day, with highs in the mid-90s, but a cool 10-15 MPH breeze.

Be watching the Moon at 9:48 AM - yes, AM - when the Full Blue Moon will be at its fullest!

Friday night, it will be mostly clear with lows in the 60s, and winds 5-10 MPH.

Count on Bethesda to find a way to celebrate the Blue Moon:
Blue Moon specials at Freddy's Lobster on Cordell Ave.!

BETHESDA STORM CENTER
ISAAC UPDATE

Isaac is now a weakening Tropical Storm.  It is still headed NW, and every minute it does that is an extra minute of good weather you'll have this weekend.  Although it will disintegrate into a mass of clouds, it will still pack flooding potential by the time it reaches the DC area Sunday or Monday.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC BULLETIN

LOCATION: OVER LOUISIANA

WINDS:  45 MPH

MOVING:  NW at 8 MPH

Tune your Twitter to @BethesdaRow and stay tuned to the blog this weekend, for urgent Bethesda weather and Isaac updates!

SAVE 51% ON REDWOOD OKTOBERFEST WITH LIVINGSOCIAL DEAL - BETHESDA EVENTS

Redwood's September 22 Bethesda Row Oktoberfest just got even more exciting:  for a limited time, you can save 51% by ordering your admission package through LivingSocial!

For just $22, you get admission, 10 food/drink tickets, Redwood Oktoberfest T-shirt, and a commemorative mug.

It's like paying for the T-shirt, and getting the rest free.

They also have an $88 VIP package, that adds VIP Lounge access (buffet and open beer bar) and a gift bag.

Hurry!

BETHESDA PLACE SAFEWAY GARAGE TO CLOSE FRIDAY EVENING UNTIL TUESDAY MORNING


Alert to those who park in the Bethesda Place public parking garage off Woodmont Avenue:  the garage will close for the entire Labor Day weekend, starting Friday evening, August 31 at 7 PM, until Tuesday morning, September 4, at 5 AM.

This garage is utilized by patrons of the Old Georgetown Road Safeway, the Original Pancake House, and many other businesses and services within the Bethesda Place complex (which will all still be open).

So plan ahead for alternative parking arrangements, or park at another garage and take the Bethesda Circulator on the days it is running.

BEEF `O'BRADY'S SPORTS BAR PLANNING BETHESDA LOCATION

NO SITE YET
SELECTED AS
TAMPA-BASED
CHAIN SEEKS
LOCAL
OPERATOR

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

A sports bar chain with 210 locations nationwide finds "Bethesda an ideal market" for expansion.  Well, they're certainly not alone in that sentiment.

Beef 'O'Brady's is searching for a local entrepreneur to operate its future Bethesda franchise.  No location has been secured at this time, so where the bar will end up is a mystery for now.

James Walker, Chief Development Officer for the company, said they will seek to become part of the Bethesda community with "philanthropic partnerships and volunteerism."

While the bar features Angus Burgers, which are hardly rare these days, one unique offering is Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Seasoning, which should appeal to fans of New Orleans cuisine (like me!).

Despite the "Beef" name, the chain says its Buffalo wings are its most popular menu item.

I wouldn't expect an opening anytime soon on this one folks, until they get a local investor.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WESTBARD GIANT UNVEILS NEW ORGANIC DEPARTMENT - IS IT THE BEST IN BETHESDA?

DESIGN EMPHASIZES
NATURAL THEME, 
HUGE SELECTION

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

Everyone is trying to eat healthier these days, and that just got easier at the Westbard Giant.  The longtime grocery store in the Westwood Shopping Center, on Westbard Avenue in Bethesda, just opened a new organic department.

Replacing the flower shop at the front corner of the store, it is the first phase of the store's current renovation.  Which is odd, because they just renovated the store a few years ago.

Aside from the selection, the design touches reflect the theme.  Hardwood floors with a natural woodgrain, and eco-friendly LED lighting, stand out against the larger store area.

I grew up near this Giant, and still think it is the best in Bethesda.  The change in flooring when you enter the organic department generates a bit of nostalgia.

When I was a kid, the far end of this store - about where the frozen aisles are today - was set up as a small department store.  They had clothes, books, and many other things.  When you got to that area, you would push your cart over a mountable edge - bump, bump - from the tile floor onto the carpeting of the department store area. 

Join me for an exclusive photo tour:
Standing in the produce department [foreground of photo],
 you can notice the contrast between the new organic
section, and the rest of the store

The new design includes special lighting
fixtures, and natural wood flooring



HURRICANE ISAAC WEAKER THAN THE DERECHO THAT HIT BETHESDA, DC AREA - BETHESDA WEATHER

BETHESDA STORM CENTER
ISAAC UPDATE

Not surprisingly, Hurricane Isaac is hitting Louisiana with high winds and torrential rains.  But despite its strengthening after stalling out near shore, I'm sticking with my prediction that Isaac's remnants won't pose a violent threat to Bethesda and the DC area on Labor Day weekend.

But it likely will ruin outdoor plans for at least Sunday and Monday.

As I wrote yesterday, Isaac's westward track means it will have to travel further over land to reach our area, which will sap its strength.

But when you notice how little punch Isaac picked up, despite stalling for hours over warm Gulf waters, it indicates again my theory that Isaac is a wimp of a storm.

In fact, the wind gusts being reported -  mostly 50 MPH, with a high of 85 MPH being the maximum in one location - means Isaac has not reached the reported 90 MPH gusts some parts of the DC area experienced during this summer's derecho storm.

It's all relative, of course.  Rain bands and winds are causing more damage and flooding in Gulf states because the storm isn't moving, rather than because of the storm's inherent strength.

If Isaac was a true "killer storm," the TV people wouldn't be out in it.  They'd be blown away, swept away by waters, or slammed by large debris.  (If those folks knew what was in that water they're standing in around the streets of New Orleans, I doubt they'd be out there to begin with!).

In short, Isaac will be easier for Bethesda and the DC area to handle than the derecho.  The worst is behind us.  For now.

HURRICANE ISAAC BULLETIN

CURRENT LOCATION:  50 miles SSW of New Orleans

WINDS:  80 MPH

MOVING:  NW at 6 MPH

+12' storm surge in Plaquemines Parish

+People are on rooftops there

If and when Isaac's remnants hit Bethesda, stay tuned to this blog and @BethesdaRow on Twitter for 24/7 weather news and information directly from Bethesda.

GIANT RECALLING MANGOES FOR SALMONELLA RISK, WERE SOLD IN BETHESDA STORES

Giant Food is urgently alerting customers about a recall of Daniella-brand mangoes, sold at all of its local stores.  The Mexican mangoes have already been blamed for a salmonella outbreak in Canada.  While 22 cases exist in Canada, none have yet been reported locally.

The mangoes were sold between July 12 and August 24.  They are labeled with price code PLU 4959.

Symptoms of salmonella can include severe intestinal upset, fever, and chills.

BETHESDA POST OFFICE PARKING "SOLUTION" NO SOLUTION AT ALL

12 QUESTIONS
LOCAL MEDIA
MUST ASK
VAN HOLLEN, ET AL

Was I right again, or not?  On August 9, ABC7 reported that Congressman Chris Van Hollen would announce a solution to the Bethesda Post Office parking fiasco "next week."

A long 3 weeks later, we finally got a "solution" yesterday.  And as I warned you, it truly is no solution at all.

I have to think that real people who live in Bethesda, and have to mail things, are going to go ballistic when they hear this.

What is the "solution" Van Hollen and the USPS came up with?

Park in the Adagio garage off Bradley Boulevard.

"He's joking, right?"

Park in the Adagio garage?!

That was free advice the BCC Services Center had offered to try to help residents in the short term.  But it was never considered a "solution."

The only new twist is that your parking will be validated.  But that does nothing to solve the issue of the distance between the customer's car, and the 6900 Wisconsin Avenue Post Office.  This is not a handicapped space a few steps from the entrance.  Not to mention that the Adagio garage can get cramped at certain times of the day.  And holiday crowds.  And no drive-up drop boxes.  And anti-car politicians encouraging people to drive to an out-of-the-way post office.

But if Van Hollen and the media say something, that makes it so, right?

"Parking solution for Bethesda USPS customers" - Gazette headline

"This solution..." - Kelvin Williams, USPS

"I look forward to hearing from constituents as we continue to work on this issue" - Chris Van Hollen

Well, to borrow a line from the new Post Office's neighbor Verizon,

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Van Hollen didn't even take action on the post office issue until June 19.  I had already exposed the fact that 6900 Wisconsin Avenue could never work, all the way back on April 4!!

Where was Van Hollen between April 4 and June 19?  And he's not the only one to blame.  Montgomery County councilmembers George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich, Hans Reimer and Roger Berliner all represent Bethesda.

Why were none of them involved in the closure and consolidation of 2 post offices, in an area with a large senior population?  And in a county where 1 out of every 10 citizens is disabled?

It was the most bread and butter constituent issue a politician could ever deal with.

We know that USPS was rushed and pressured to get out of the Metro Center and Arlington Road post offices, and that private developers were eager to get started on projects there.

It's long past due for the media to ask Van Hollen, Leventhal, Floreen, Elrich, Riemer and Berliner the following questions:

1.  When were you first informed USPS was closing every post office in downtown Bethesda?

2.  Describe specifically your involvement in the search process for a new post office.

3.  When did you know 6900 Wisconsin Avenue was under consideration?

4.  Were you familiar with 6900 Wisconsin, and the parking issues there?

5.  Did you personally tour the 6900 site, knowing that this would be the only post office for your downtown Bethesda constituents?

6.  If so, did you register a complaint?  Produce a copy of that communication.

7.  If not, why weren't you involved in a search process with such great impact on your constituents?

8.  On what date did you become aware 6900 had no parking?

9.  Itemize the specific actions you took to prevent USPS from finalizing this site.

10.  Did you formally or informally "sign off" on the final selection of 6900?  If not, why weren't you involved?

11.  Have you received campaign contributions from developers of either former post office site, or any entity related to those developers?

12.  Detail any verbal, telephonic, written and/or electronic dialogue you and your staff have had with those developers in the last 12 months.

This is just Journalism 101, folks.  These are the questions that a journalist who questions everything would have asked by now.

So start asking them!

Bethesda doesn't need fake solutions.  We need a post office.  Now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

HAANDI ANNOUNCES "OUR LAST DAY" - BETHESDA RESTAURANT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

As we all know, Haandi is closing its doors temporarily, to make way for a new building at Norfolk and Fairmont Avenues.

The restaurant has now announced its "last day" will be September 2.
A sad Post-it Note added to sign at Haandi
If you want to be one of the last (or the last) to dine at Haandi's current location, you now know when to go.

It won't be too long before Haandi reopens at 7905 Norfolk Avenue this winter.

Where will you go for Indian food while Haandi is closed?

BETHESDA SCOOTERS AND BOARDS VOWS TO OPEN AGAIN NEXT SUMMER

Bethesda Scooters and Boards, a pop-up shop that operated over the summer on Norfolk Avenue, is closing its doors.

But maybe not forever.  In a message posted to customers "and their pets" (a dish of dog treats remained out front Monday, evidence of the shop's dog-friendly policy), BSB concluded, "see you next summer."

It's certainly likely there will be another "in-limbo" storefront slated for demolition, but ready to house a pop-up shop for a few months, next summer in Old Town Bethesda.

BSB was a novel shop at the right time, when municipalities like Ocean City, MD are revisiting their skateboard and longboard policies, in light of the current trends of alternative transportation.

WHAT DOES ISAAC HAVE IN STORE FOR BETHESDA AND THE DC AREA? - HURRICANE FORECAST, BETHESDA WEATHER

BETHESDA STORM CENTER
ISAAC UPDATE

As Tropical Storm Isaac nears landfall in the Gulf Region, it's natural for Bethesda residents to wonder what the storm may do to the Washington, DC area when it arrives this coming weekend.

My prediction?  Rain, rain and more rain.  But - power outages and toppling trees (due to saturated soil, more than wind) aside - the remnants of Isaac should not be very destructive.

There are several indications why this should be the case.  First, Isaac appears to be a bit of a wimp.  Given that the storm has been over warm waters in the Gulf, but has failed to gain much additional steam or fury, it is unlikely to power up enough to carry destructive force very far inland.

Second, Isaac has been tracking slightly west.  The closer it lands to Texas, the more land it will have to cross to reach the Mid-Atlantic states.  Since land is the kryptonite of hurricanes, Isaac simply won't have much punch by Sunday or Monday.

Finally, Isaac has shown it can produce flooding.  Isaac reminds me of Tropical Storm Lee just about one year ago.  Another "wimp," but do you remember how long Lee's remnants rained on Bethesda days later?

So, I predict no need to take unusual emergency precautions here for Isaac.  But should Isaac take a similar path back to the Atlantic as Lee, there could be flash flood risks around the DC area.

Hold off on any major outdoor plans for Saturday - and especially Sunday and Monday.  We'll know a lot more of what - if anything - to expect from Isaac as the next few days unfold.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC BULLETIN

CURRENT LOCATION:  185 miles SSE of Biloxi, MS
WINDS:  70 MPH
MOVING:  NW at 7 MPH

+Louis Armstrong and Pensacola airports closed

+Amtrak suspends service into/out of New Orleans through Wednesday

+LA Gov. Bobby Jindal mobilizes 4000 National Guard troops



Stay tuned for all the latest Bethesda hurricane news.   And tune your Twitter to @BethesdaRow!  Count on Robert Dyer for the helpful, hyperlocal Bethesda emergency weather coverage you need 24/7.

ZIPCAR MAKES A SCENE AT BETHESDA ROW (PHOTOS)

When Zipcar announced it was coming to Bethesda Row last year, the carshare vehicles were originally assigned to an Elm Street garage.

Now, Federal Realty has created 2 designated carsharing street parking spaces in a prominent spot, outside of Barnes and Noble on Bethesda Avenue.

The new spaces, filled by a Honda Civic and Toyota Sentra eager to be borrowed, had passersby talking.  They certainly will increase awareness and usage, with the vehicles out in a hot spot where people are gathering anyway.

Enjoy this exclusive photo gallery of Zipcars and their VIP (VIC?) parking spots at Bethesda Row!



Click here for new photos from Zipcar's other new downtown Bethesda location, Cordell Avenue!

Have you used Zipcar at Bethesda Row, or elsewhere?  How would you rate your experience?

EVERYBODY MOVE YOUR BODY: DIRTY DANCING BETHESDA ROW OUTDOOR MOVIE UNDER THE STARS TONIGHT!

Equinox and Redwood at Bethesda Row have gone all out on the Dirty Dancing theme for tonight's grand finale of Movies Under the Stars on Bethesda Lane.

Yes, it's another "ladies night" at Bethesda Row.

Show up early for a FREE cardio dance class at Equinox (corner of Woodmont Avenue and Elm Street).  6:30-7:30 PM.

If that's too much, Equinox will have a 15-minute dance warm-up right on Bethesda Lane at 8:15 PM.

For those who just want to dine and enjoy the movie, head to the patio at Redwood.

They'll serve up a Watermelon and Tomato Salad, "Dirty" house-made chips and salsa, and two adult beverages:  Lemon "Merengue" Pie Cocktail, and the "I Carried a Watermelon" Cocktail.

Not having seen the movie, I have to assume those drink names mean something to those of you who have.

Great weather is expected, so make plans to be at Bethesda Row tonight to close out the summer.

Movie starts at dusk.

NEIGHBORHOODS JUST OUTSIDE DOWNTOWN BETHESDA ROCKED BY BLING RING BURGLARIES

SATURDAY BREAK-IN
8TH NEAR DOWNTOWN,
19TH OVERALL SINCE
BURGLARY SPREE
BEGAN

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

A continuing wave of burglaries appears to have settled on neighborhoods just outside of downtown Bethesda.

The Town of Somerset, and the patchwork of communities that make up Chevy Chase, have been the hardest hit.  Multiple burglaries - sometimes on the same block, as on Dorset Avenue - have occurred in subdivisions off the "Green Mile" stretch of 355, between downtown Bethesda and Friendship Heights, over the last several weeks.

Saturday's break-in in the 5400 block of Uppingham Street was the 5th burglary in Somerset, the 8th in "ring neighborhoods" outside downtown Bethesda, and the 19th overall since the crimes began July 17.

Termed the "Bling Ring" for the burglars' focus on old-money, wealthy neighborhoods, their break-ins began in Spring Valley, then moved into similar enclaves in Montgomery County days later.  Kenwood, Green Acres, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, and Foxhall in DC have been among the victimized areas.

But as crime data for the last few weeks demonstrates, the burglary wave seems to have narrowed to a relatively small area south - and, in one case, east - of downtown Bethesda.

This would suggest that the burglars are casing homes in that area in the daytime.  Residents should not only lock their doors, but take note of suspicious vehicles or persons in the neighborhood, who don't appear to have business there.  If such activity takes place, contact police, and write down tag numbers and descriptions of the people.

As with the Green Acres burglary spree this summer, a confined area of activity will make it far easier for citizens and police to notice suspicious activity.  And hopefully, bring a close to the Bling Ring spree.

BETHESDA LIBRARY WILL HAVE NEW HOURS STARTING SEPTEMBER 16

Bethesda's downtown library on Arlington Road will have new hours, beginning September 16:

SUNDAY: 12-5 PM
MONDAY-THURSDAY:  9 AM - 9 PM
FRIDAY-SATURDAY:  10 AM - 6 PM

Monday, August 27, 2012

MORE PICS FROM DUMPLING DOJO IN BETHESDA

Here are two more pictures from Dumpling Dojo, the newest addition to the food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (for details on Dumpling Dojo, read my full report from yesterday):
Helpful advice for the uninitiated

Here's a wide view of the food court near Dumpling Dojo

PREPARE FOR ISAAC BY TESTING YOURSELF INSIDE A HURRICANE SIMULATOR IN BETHESDA!!

BETHESDA STORM CENTER
ISAAC UPDATE

Welcome, readers, to special weather coverage here on Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row.  My hope is to continue to provide you with the same, comprehensive updates during this hurricane season, as I have in the past.  I thank you for your continued readership and support.  Check in here - and on Twitter at @BethesdaRow - for 24/7 coverage of Isaac, as it approaches Bethesda this weekend.

How better to prepare for a hurricane, than with a Hurricane Simulator!
Step right up, and enter the Hurricane Simulator if you dare
Stop by Level 1 in Westfield Montgomery Mall, in the Old Navy wing, and take the Hurricane Simulator for a spin.  Or, should I say, let it take you for a spin!

Pay $2, and enter the chamber.  Soon, you will experience hurricane-force winds.  Upload video of yourself, and win prizes.
Those who have predicted the extinction of the American
indoor shopping mall are feeling pretty stupid right now

Only in Bethesda.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC BULLETIN

CURRENT LOCATION:  185 miles WSW of Fort Myers, FL
WINDS:  65 MPH
MOVING:   WNW at 14 MPH

LA Gov. Bobby Jindal declares state of emergency
New Orleans Mayor:  Superdome, Louis Armstrong Airport not shelters

YOGI CASTLE, URBAN OUTFITTERS OPENING IN BETHESDA AT WESTFIELD MONTGOMERY MALL

Attention Frozen Yogurt maniacs:  Yet another frozen yogurt shop is opening in Bethesda.

Yogi Castle is a self-serve yogurt shop, opening in the near future on Level 1 at Westfield Montgomery.  The sign says August, but somehow I'm skeptical.  Maybe they'll prove me wrong by Friday, so wait and we'll find out soon enough.

Yogi Castle's menu is limited compared to more popular chains.  Likely flavors include Original, peanut butter, cookies and cream, strawberry, New York Cheesecake, raspberry, green tea, chocolate, and - if we're lucky - gingerbread.

Meanwhile, diagonally on the opposite side of Level 1, Urban Outfitters is scheduled to open in October.

BETHESDA AIR RIGHTS CENTER ON SALE FOR $257 MILLION

TIAA-CREF has put one of downtown Bethesda's most valuable properties on the market.  Cassidy Turley will handle the potential sale of the Air Rights Center for the owners.

This is the third iconic Bethesda property to be put up for sale this year.

It would be a shock, but nothing is shocking after the Montgomery County Council proposed the county seize, and demolish, one or more of the complex's towers through eminent domain earlier this year.  The suggestion went nowhere, and the council eventually resolved to remove the Capital Crescent Trail from the future Purple Line tunnel under the Air Rights Center.

But that brief moment suggested some in the development community may covet the site, for a denser, mixed use project.

BETHESDA HIT-AND-RUN UPDATE: VICTIM'S FAMILY SPEAKS - EXCLUSIVE!

"WE'RE VERY KEEN
TO CATCH
THE VILLAIN"

POLICE NOW AWARE OF
POTENTIAL SPEED
CAMERA EVIDENCE

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

The driver who fled the scene of Friday morning's collision with a cyclist on Massachusetts Avenue is still at large.  Meanwhile, the victim's husband is asking the community to help find the culprit who left his wife "bleeding and unconscious in the road."

Tom Skinner has posted a message on a community message group, asking fellow citizens to spread the description of the suspect's minivan among neighbors, and on any local listservs they subscribe to.

That minivan - late model, dark blue, and with passenger-side damage - was last seen speeding towards the District on Massachusetts around 10:30 AM Friday, August 24.

Skinner's account of Jodi Grant's injuries suggests they are more serious than the public was made aware of Friday.   Grant will require several surgeries, and has neck and back fractures.  She is expected to eventually make a full recovery, however.

When I heard about this incident Friday, I immediately thought of the portable speed camera that is located just south of the crash site, near Massachusetts and Cromwell Drive.  If the minivan had been speeding away from the scene, the camera should have a clear photo of the tag.  I contacted the police, and yesterday received word that my tip was passed on to the investigating officers.

Hopefully, the camera got it, but if the minivan had not accelerated to 47 MPH by that point, there won't be a picture.

This is a terrible situation all around.  Accidents can happen to anyone, but to flee the scene with someone in the roadway is unconscionable.

Pass on the minivan description - vague as it is - and let's hope someone happened to witness this, or knows some helpful information to break the case.

If you contact police, the case number is #12041932.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

DOWNTOWN BETHESDA HISTORY WEEKEND CONTINUES ON EBAY

Readers, by the end of this weekend, you may be an armchair expert on the history of downtown Bethesda.

Yesterday, I told you about an artifact of Bethesda's past being auctioned off on eBay.  But there's another piece of history up for bid there, as well:  a signed print illustration of one of Bethesda's oldest buildings, Community Paint and Hardware - as it appeared in 1880.

I knew something about this building, but I had no idea it was around in 1880.  You know it today as a bank on the left side of the driveway you take down to the Apex Building garage, on Wisconsin Avenue.  The building is in a different spot, and only the front portion remains.  When I was a kid, what you now know as the Apex Building wasn't there.  On the Elm street side, there was a car dealership parking lot.  About where Food, Wine and Co. is, and the driveway, was a bridge.  Down below were the CSX railroad tracks.

In the print by Joan Zwack, you can see how big the original building was.

Well, that's our downtown Bethesda history lesson for the day.

WARNING: SIDEWALK CLOSURES BY CVS ON WISCONSIN AVENUE - BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

Sidewalks around the Bethesda CVS are closed, as they are being upgraded to ADA standards.  This is the CVS at Wisconsin Avenue and Cheltenham Drive, across from 7-Eleven and Fairmont Plaza.
View from Cheltenham Dr. alongside CVS property; that's
Starbucks on Norfolk and Woodmont Aves. in the distance

In front of CVS facing north on Wisconsin Ave.; there is
no easy pedestrian approach to CVS at this time

Please be advised, the area is tricky to navigate for senior citizens and the physically-challenged.  Approach by car into the lot, or consider using one of the many other CVS locations downtown.  The most convenient for those with mobility issues would be at Arlington Road and Bradley Boulevard.
Can't get there from here:
Cheltenham, facing Wisconsin Ave., and the
Landow and Fairmont Plaza buildings

Facing south on Wisconsin
Of course, if you just need prescriptions, the CVS does have a drive-thru at the affected location.
This open section could encourage jaywalking
across Wisconsin
This situation is something drivers should be aware of as well, as more pedestrians may jaywalk across Wisconsin to reach the CVS.

DUMPLING DOJO OPENS IN BETHESDA AT WESTFIELD MONTGOMERY MALL

SON OF HOLLYWOOD EAST OWNER
LAUNCHES MALL'S EFFORT TO
IMPROVE DINING OPTIONS

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

Get ready for bao sandwiches, Bethesda!  Dumpling Dojo is now open at Westfield Montgomery Mall, in the food court.
Dumpling Dojo - Westfield Montgomery Mall
Montgomery Mall's food court has always had surprisingly decent Chinese and Japanese chain restaurants.  But expectations are far higher for Dumpling Dojo, as owner Jeffrey Yu is the son of Janet Yu, owner of Wheaton's famed Hollywood East Cafe.  In recent years, Hollywood East has moved into "Restaurant Row" at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall, and into Washingtonian magazine's "Top 100 Restaurants" list.

So it's somehow appropriate that Jeffrey Yu's venture would make a big splash at our Westfield mall in Bethesda.  Is there a Top 100 listing in Dumpling Dojo's future?  Hollywood East proved it's possible.

Dumpling Dojo's main menu offerings are a wide selection of dumplings, bao sandwiches and rice bowls.  The most interesting are the sandwiches.  Bao (pronounced "bow" as in "pow" or "cow") are steamed soft rolls, which originated in Cantonese cuisine.  As you can imagine, there is no shortage of geographic variations.

Earlier this year, Westfield promised an ambitious renovation of the food court, new dining options, a new multiscreen cineplex, and an all-new Transit Center.

While those projects will take several years to complete, it's no surprise that Westfield would turn to one of the restaurant royal families of Montgomery County, to give patrons a hint of what the future holds.

So if you're heading to the mall to do some shopping soon, stop by Dumpling Dojo while you're there.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

CHEAP DATE: DINNER AND A MOVIE AT BETHESDA ROW

Potbelly on Elm Street is offering a special deal:  dine at the sandwich shop, and get movie tickets for only $8.  A pretty good deal, given that 3-D tickets are around $14 these days.

Now, guys, speaking as one bachelor to another, this is not a date that will impress the ladies.

But if you are planning a more casual evening, this cheap date will save you about (taking out calculator) $92!

Sure, it's not Coastal Flats, which had a similar offer in Tyson's Corner, but $92 is more than chump change.

FREE PINT OF BEER AT UNION JACK'S BETHESDA WITH THIS COUPON!

Enjoy a FREE pint of domestic beer today or Sunday before 9 PM, at Union Jack's Bethesda!

Just print out this coupon!

A SMALL PIECE OF DOWNTOWN BETHESDA HISTORY GOES ON THE AUCTION BLOCK

The ghosts of Bethesda past are haunting eBay this weekend.   A "mint condition" matchbox from Bish Thompson's Seafood Restaurant is on auction, with a starting bid of $4.99.

Bidding ends in about 48 hours.

As a lifelong Bethesda resident, I did dine at Bish Thompson's a number of times in my early years.  Prior to the construction of Bethesda Row, and other new developments, BT's was one of the few major restaurants in downtown Bethesda.

It was located on property now part of the Rosedale Park Apartments.  I was not a big fan of Bish Thompson's myself.  O'Donnell's - a neighboring seafood restaurant - was a bit better, especially the fried shrimp.

My favorite restaurant in the "old days" of Bethesda (a.k.a. the 1980s), was Hot Shoppes, at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and East West Highway.

Oh, well.

If you want to own a piece of downtown Bethesda history, it's possible.

But I wonder how a Bish Thompson's matchbox ended up in Pittsfield, New Hampshire.

WOODMONT AVENUE CLOSURE SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 4 - BETHESDA ROW CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

CLOSURE NOW
3 MONTHS 
BEHIND SCHEDULE

An electronic sign on Woodmont Avenue has been activated, and is warning drivers of the imminent closing of a section of that road.

An electronic sign, north of Bethesda Row on
Woodmont Ave., makes a dramatic announcement
The portion of Woodmont between Bethesda Avenue and Miller will close "on or about" September 4, to allow for construction of two luxury residential buildings.  In addition to building The Darcy and The Flats, workers will also be realigning Woodmont and reconfiguring the "Barnes and Noble" intersection.

It should be noted that this is only the latest of many delays; the Woodmont closure was supposed to happen in mid-June(!).

Other parts of the project are behind schedule, as well.  Something as simple as seeding and mulching by the Capital Crescent Trail is two weeks behind the original completion date.

So when they say Woodmont will fully reopen in 20 months, we can justifiably be skeptical.

Friday, August 24, 2012

MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE SPEED CAMERA MAY HOLD CLUE IN BETHESDA HIT AND RUN

Montgomery County Police are searching for a late-model, dark blue minivan with right side damage, after it struck a bicyclist at Massachusetts Avenue and Cromwell Drive in Bethesda, and fled the scene.

But it's possible police may have a photo of the minivan's tag, if it was speeding when it was last seen heading south towards the District on Massachusetts.

There is a portable speed camera that would have snapped a photo of the minivan, if that was the case.

The accident occurred after 10 AM this morning, and police would like to speak to anyone who witnesses the incident.

Let's hope they check that camera!

BLING RING BURGLARS BURGLE AGAIN

Yet another burglary points to the Bling Ring this week.  A wave of burglaries in exclusive enclaves washed over Somerset again Tuesday, August 21, in the 4800 block of Falstone Avenue.

This is at least the third break-in in the Somerset neighborhood since the burglary spree began.  Authorities have not detailed what is being stolen in these cases, or made any public statements about them.

The burglaries have occurred in wealthy, old-money neighborhoods over many weeks, starting in Spring Valley in NW DC.

CAN YOU BUY A GOOGLE NEXUS 7 IN DOWNTOWN BETHESDA? YES!

The highly-coveted Google Nexus 7 tablet can be hard to find.  Especially in downtown Bethesda.  It's not at the Verizon store.  It's definitely not at the Apple Store!  Not even at Best Buy.

Would you believe I found one at Staples on Wisconsin Avenue?


Not exactly the first place you'd think to look.

But sure enough, there it is:
Google Nexus 7 at Staples in downtown Bethesda
The only two problems are, this one was not getting any electricity and wouldn't turn on.  And, second, Staples can't seem to stock enough to satisfy demand.  So you'll be lucky if there's one there.