Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

GIANT GAS STATION AND GROCERY PICKUP AT CHEVY CHASE LAKE (PHOTOS)

Regional grocery chain Giant has ventured into the gasoline business, and hopes you'll buy groceries while waiting for the tank to fill.

It works like any other gas station, with 2 differences: save big with your Giant Gas Points, and pick up groceries you ordered earlier online.

Your groceries are kept refrigerated (if necessary) on site, and will be available for pickup at the time you tell them, via the Giant website. Giant promises your bags will be loaded into your car in 5 minutes or less.

Other positives: you're getting gas cheaper than at the traditional chains, and the pumps seem to work every time with the Giant Card, whereas that's been less than 100% compatible at some of the old Giant-affiliated stations in the area.

Giant gas stations are now open at 6 locations in Montgomery County, with more to come:

8500 Connecticut Avenue (Chevy Chase Lake area)

16837 Crabbs Branch Way (Derwood)

18331 Leaman Farm Road (Germantown)

20944 Frederick Road (Germantown)

625 Hungerford Drive (Rockville)

12051 Rockville Pike (Rockville)

FRIENDLY'S LIMITED EDITION CARAMEL CREAM SUNDAE REVIEW (VIDEO)

Legendary Massachusetts ice cream parlor and regional restaurant chain Friendly's brings home a limited-time-only treat: a new Caramel Cream Sundae. Watch my video review now to find out if it's worth a try.

As a bonus, our resident expert pulls a James Bond on us - wait til you hear what he's up to now! While you're there, subscribe to my YouTube channel and you won't miss a video!

HOW TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE ON BLACK FRIDAY AT WESTFIELD MONTGOMERY MALL

Are you hitting all the stores at Westfield Montgomery Mall today, the biggest shopping day of the year? You could find your phone powering down, whether it's an outdated battery, or simply from using your browser to look up the deals online. Now what?

Head to the CouCou kiosk on the Upper Level near Macy's.

Let them hook you up to their portable chargers, and they'll juice you back up. While waiting, you might want to check out their selection of portable power banks.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

WASHINGTON POST EARNS ANOTHER * 4 PINOCCHIO * SCORE IN LATEST MONTGOMERY COUNTY BRT FACT CHECK

Two days ago, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a transit corridors master plan that includes provisions for studying a 98-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

First, the good news: The plan also takes the first substantive steps toward increasing MARC commuter rail capacity on the Brunswick Line. That is a positive development, and one I strongly support.

But the aforementioned BRT system is a terrible idea, and would be a complete waste of taxpayer money. Despite some misgivings among a minority of councilmembers, all 9 of them now own BRT by voting for the plan.

I think Councilmember Marc Elrich has greatly rebounded from his out-of-character first term in office. At the time, I criticized many of his actions, such as voting for sector plans that were oversized, fail to provide the infrastructure necessary to support them, and increase urban sprawl in suburban and rural areas. But in his second term, the original Marc Elrich has reemerged. He has not only been an outspoken critic of the sector plans in this term, but more importantly, has actually voted against them.

So I give Councilmember Elrich full credit for that and other issues where, in my opinion, he has been correct. But I simply disagree with his support of BRT. Ultimately, the impact of BRT on land use - allowing dense, urban-style development in Aspen Hill, Olney, Wildwood and other definitively low-density, suburban areas - would be contrary to his stated positions on land use.

I think Councilmember Elrich is partially correct in his statement that "there is no real way forward in this county without transit." Expanding and enhancing Metrobus, Ride On, MARC and Metro will be critical in having a functioning transportation system. Light rail lines would be important additions.

But leaving out one mode altogether - highways - will continue the economic damage the county is already suffering from its failure to complete its master plan freeways.

And that's the biggest point the Washington Post obscured once again in its coverage of Tuesday's BRT vote.

Reporter Bill Turque states that the county has "little room left for big new roads." Councilmember Roger Berliner refers to county roads as "a scarce public resource."

Those statements are flatly not true.

Reasonable people can argue the merits of BRT. But there is absolutely, positively no way anyone can argue we don't have room for new roads. Rights-of-way exist today for the planned Rockville Freeway, Outer Beltway/new Potomac River crossing, M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended, and the Northern Parkway. They can be clearly defined on maps, and the land is primarily being preserved as parkland. These master plan roads were recognized as critical for the growth planned during the 1960s and 70s. All of that growth happened. And more. But the county never built the roads to support it! Et, voila, now we are all stuck in traffic.

There is also the indisputable fact that I-495, I-270 and state highways like Georgia Avenue have existing space to be widened, such as by extending the Virginia express lanes into Maryland. We have a lot of options. But our elected officials are refusing to take advantage of them. All of these things cost money, too, and a Transit-only! approach is not only radical, but destructive to the quality of life and economic development in Montgomery County.

Reducing road capacity by 33% to give BRT dedicated lanes will only worsen the gridlock.

The Post cited again the surreal argument that BRT would carry 600 more people an hour than car traffic. Not only is the math for that questionable, but that assumes big-time BRT ridership. Currently, Metro offers a rapid transit service along the MD 355 corridor now targeted for a BRT line. But 85% of commuters continue to find driving the option that meets their needs best. Why would they change to a BRT that is even slower than Metro? An empty bus cannot carry 600 more people than cars per hour.

And once again, the Post gives a lowball figure for the total cost of BRT, "1-2 billion dollars." It's actually around $5 billion, and none of these numbers take into account the Strathmore/Silver Spring Transit Center-style mishaps that could occur.

Why do council members (who themselves commute by automobile) continue to assert that they know better than their constituents when it comes to commuting in Montgomery County? And why can't the Post Co. give us the full story, and the facts on BRT?

Post/Council BRT Fact Check rating:
4 Pinocchios
"Pants on Fire"

TURKEY HELP HOTLINE 1-800-BUTTERBALL

The Butterball turkey hotline can answer all of your turkey preparation questions until 7:00 PM tonight:

1-800-BUTTERBALL

Happy Thanksgiving from Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

THANKSGIVING EVE PARTIES/EVENTS IN BETHESDA 2013

Thanksgiving Eve is here. The night before Thanksgiving has become infamous as a night to spend out on the town, particularly for younger people who are flying into town for a family holiday, and want to meet up with friends.

Here are 3 Bethesda bars hosting 2013 Thanksgiving Eve events tonight; maybe you can hit all 3:

THE PARVA

Join DJ Envyone, DJ Distrakshun, DJ NV, and DJ Pootie for a 2-floor bash at the 2nd Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Party at The Parva. Doors open at 9:00 PM, and there will be food and drink specials all night. Must be 21+.
The Parva is located at 7904 Woodmont Avenue.

UNION JACK'S BETHESDA

Union Jack's will have a DJ and dancing also, as well as $2-off all craft beers, shooter specials, a beer tub, and 50¢ wings. St. Elmo Avenue.

BLACKFINN BETHESDA

Enjoy drink specials all night, but for "exclusive drink specials," email Lara at lhabet@blackfinnbethesda.com. 4901-A Fairmont Avenue.

LEAN CUISINE SWEDISH MEATBALLS REVIEW (VIDEO) - FROZEN DINNER REVIEW

Today's bad weather is a reminder of what snow may lie ahead this winter. For that reason, it's always a good idea to have a couple of frozen dinners on hand for when roads become impassable.

In this video review, let's test a Lean Cuisine version of a hearty 1950s classic, Swedish Meatballs.

HOW MUCH MONEY DID MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCILMEMBERS RECEIVE FROM BILLIONAIRE BEFORE APPROVING HIS CITY MUSEUM IN THE COUNTRY? (PHOTO)

Five days ago, Montgomery County issued construction permits for two structures on the Glen Road property of billionaire Mitchell Rales. Both are part of the expansion of Rales' private Glenstone art museum, which is currently viewable by appointment.

The expansion, which includes a cafe (serving soup, sandwiches, etc.) and an extension of public sewer and water facilities to the site, was controversial due to its location in a rural area in Potomac.

But Rales isn't done yet: the tycoon - whose net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion - recently purchased a 2.5 acre property, and seven others, near his estate, according to Washingtonian Magazine. What ultimately is the intended size and scale of Rales' estate and museum? Is a facility of such urban proportions, and the stormwater runoff it creates, suitable for a rural area?  And is it fair for wealthy applicants to get approval for public sewer in rural areas, when other citizens and churches have been denied?

The Montgomery County Council might say, "Yes!" That's because they've received a Fort Knox worth of checks from the Rales family.

When the initial argument over the sewer line - which will bisect Greenbriar Branch stream, an arrangement that has caused contamination in Little Falls stream in Bethesda in recent years - occurred, The Washington Post and Gazette did not inform readers of the money councilmembers had received from Rales, his family, and a Rales business entity, Equity Group Holdings.

But I've done the research they declined to do, and here are the loot totals the council - who approved the sewer extension unanimously - have received so far:

Roger Berliner $1500
Marc Elrich $1500
Valerie Ervin $2000
Nancy Floreen $1000
George Leventhal $750
Craig Rice $1000
Hans Riemer $2000

How much does it cost to get sewer in a rural area in Montgomery County? $9750, apparently.

Reportedly, some or all of the County Council attended at least one posh party at Rales' estate prior to the vote. I say reportedly, because the Post declined to identify the entire list of councilmembers who attended the celebration. When I emailed Post reporter Miranda Spivack to ask which councilmembers were present at the party, she did not respond. Lost in the inbox, perhaps? That's vital information the taxpayers deserve to know, and should have been in the media coverage, along with the money totals I provided above.

Photo via Bing:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

PANERA BREAD BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE (PHOTOS)

Tremendous progress to report at the future Panera Bread bakery at 7201 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

Display shelves, counters, wall panels and furniture are among the new items to appear, as the interior continues coming together.

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS AT WESTFIELD MONTGOMERY MALL IN BETHESDA! BLACK FRIDAY 2013 BETHESDA

Now that we know what time the stores open at Westfield Montgomery Mall on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the question is, what are the deals?!

Here is the complete list of Black Friday deals at the mall as of this morning, and here are highlights of some of the best to help you plan:

SEARS

• RCA 32” Class 720p 60Hz LED TV for only $179.99 (Save $60)
• Craftsman 220pc Mechanics Tool Set with Case $99.99 (regular $129.99)
• All DieHard work boots only $44.99 (regular $65-$105)
• Women’s sweaters from $9.99
• Juniors Bongo sweaters and skinny jeans from $12.99
• 50% off bras and panties
• Sleepwear sets from $9.99
• 50% off cosmetic kits
• 60% off jewelry boxes and more!

BANANA REPUBLIC

50% off 1st full priced item, 40% off remainder of purchase

MACY'S

$9.99 –your choice: coffee maker, griddle, waffle maker, rocket blender, toaster, slow cooker, deep fyer, Panini maker, pressure cooker, or blender; sharper image action camera $49.99; Tag Fairfield III 5-piece luggage set $49.99; 30% off Impulse apparel from Kensie, Lucky Brand, Miss Me, Rachel Rachel Roy, Bar III & more

bebe

30%-50% off select full price and sale items through closing

GUESS

40% off Entire Store until closing

EXPRESS

Open from 8pm, November 28; Entire store 50% off until 12noon 40% off after 12noon

RADIO SHACK

50% off toys; 36 pack of AAA or AA batteries; **Samsung Galaxy S4 $49.00** (all carriers)

THE LIMITED

50% OFF EVERYTHING Including markdowns! Not combinable with any other offers or promotions. DOORBUSTERS 6AM Until 10AM Black Friday! Catch them while you can! While quantities last. Not combinable with other offers

AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS

50% off entire store 8pm-6am Thanksgiving/Black Friday; 40% off from 6am-10pm Black Friday

AÉROPOSTALE

50% off the entire store. $10 Fleece doorbusters. Free holiday bear with a purchase of $75 or more

GAP

50% off entire store!

LAILA ROWE

Buy 1 Get 1 50% off (of equal or lesser value) through the entire store Midnight-10pm 11/29

LEGAL SEA FOODS HOPES TO FIND NEW BETHESDA LOCATION

Legal Sea Foods, as I reported yesterday, is on the way out at Westfield Montgomery Mall. But despite the pending exit, the seafood restaurant chain isn't giving up on Bethesda.

Asked if there are plans to reopen elsewhere in Bethesda, a spokesperson confirmed Monday evening that "We are looking for an alternate location." Legal Sea Foods continues to have locations in Tysons Galleria mall, Crystal City, and Washington, D.C.

A new Legal Sea Foods is scheduled to open at Reagan National Airport in late spring 2014.

Monday, November 25, 2013

DEL RAY AVENUE CLOSED BETWEEN NORFOLK AND RUGBY IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

Del Ray Avenue is closed tonight between Norfolk and Rugby Avenues in downtown Bethesda.

The street has been torn open down the middle, but then abandoned with no explanation as to what the reason is.

LEGAL SEA FOODS CLOSING AT WESTFIELD MONTGOMERY MALL IN BETHESDA

A Westfield Montgomery Mall spokesperson has confirmed that Legal Sea Foods will close at the mall in Bethesda. This was likely not a surprise, as Westfield has recently made a major investment in updating and expanding its dining offerings. The Cheesecake Factory is expected to open at the mall as early as next month, as well as other newcomers like Wicked Waffle in the renovated food court. Bobby Flay opened a Bobby's Burger Palace at Montgomery Mall in October.

4500 EAST-WEST HIGHWAY BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE (PHOTOS)

The Class A office building on the former Bethesda McDonald's restaurant site is rising well above street level now.

BETHESDA REMEMBERS JFK (PHOTOS)

Should there have been more outward remembrances of President John F. Kennedy around Bethesda last Friday? I found 2 Friday evening. Flags were at half-staff outside the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wisconsin Avenue. And Next Day Sign Express had a poster featuring the following JFK quote:

"Only those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."

MONTGOMERY COUNTY ISSUES PERMIT FOR SPORT AND HEALTH CLUB AT PIKE AND ROSE (PHOTO)

Montgomery County has issued the Tenant Fit-out permit for the 2-floor Sport & Health gym that will be located at Pike & Rose. The building it will share with other tenants is currently under construction on Grand Park Avenue, a new, narrow road that is itself under construction at the former Mid-Pike Plaza site on Rockville Pike.

Developer Federal Realty has said the fitness center reflects the concept of Pike & Rose as an active community.

BETHESDA RESTAURANTS OPEN THANKSGIVING 2013 (PHOTO)

Has the oven given out? Too big of a group? Too tired? Can't cook?

Whatever the reason you need a Bethesda restaurant open on Thanksgiving, here is a list to help you out. I've checked each of these online this morning, and made a note (you'll see a * and the times available closest to 6:00 PM) next to restaurants that have limited seating at this point.

Not to worry - from past experience, many of these restaurants will have seats left as Thanksgiving Day approaches, so don't give up.

Two things:  Make reservations ASAP, and be absolutely sure you've confirmed with the restaurant that they have an opening.

AMICI MIEL (Potomac)

ASSAGGI (Bethesda Row)

BRASSERIE MONTE CARLO (Norfolk Ave., Bethesda)

CAFE OF INDIA (Friendship Heights)

CAPITAL GRILLE (Friendship Heights)

CHEFF GEOFF'S ROCKVILLE

CHEFF GEOFF'S (New Mexico Ave. NW DC)

CLYDE'S OF CHEVY CHASE* Openings at 4:30, 7:45 PM currently

DAILY GRILL (Bethesda - Hyatt Regency)

DU-PAR'S HAMBURGER HAMLET (Bethesda - Georgetown Square Shopping Center/Open 24 hours!)

FOUNDING FARMERS (Park Potomac - off Montrose Road)* Openings at 8:00 PM

HUNTER'S INN (Potomac)

LA FERME (Chevy Chase)

LIA'S (Friendship Heights)

MAGGIANO'S (Friendship Heights, NW DC)

MCDONALD'S (River Road, Bethesda)

MERITAGE (North Bethesda Marriott Conference Center hotel)

MORTON'S (Bethesda)

NORMANDY FARM (Potomac)

OLD ANGLER'S INN (Potomac)* Seats available at 4:30 PM

REDWOOD (Bethesda Row)* 12-6 PM only

ROSA MEXICANO (Chevy Chase NW DC)

RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE (BETHESDA)* Seats available at 8:00 PM

SEASONS 52 (WHITE FLINT)

TAVIRA

CLYDE'S TOWER OAKS LODGE (Rockville)* Seats available at 8:30 PM

Sunday, November 24, 2013

PEPCO WORK CLOSES LANES ON WOODMONT AVENUE IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

Pepco crews are working on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, between Battery Lane and St. Elmo Avenue. One lane is closed in each direction near Rugby Avenue. One lane is closed northbound, starting at Bruce Variety.

TRY A THANKSGIVING BURRITO AT BOLOCO BETHESDA ROW (PHOTO)

Stop by Boloco through the end of the month to try their Late November Burrito. It contains many familiar ingredients from the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.

It is also available as a bowl. Find Boloco on Elm Street at Bethesda Row.

ROOF BETHESDA LIGHTED SIGN INSTALLED (PHOTOS) - BETHESDA ROOFTOP RESTAURANT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

The permanent lighted signs are now in place at Roof Bethesda, the rooftop restaurant and bar opening soon at the corner of Norfolk and Cordell Avenues.

They're quite small compared to the Smashburger signs on the building's ground level. But they are in the font of the restaurant logo, and the lights, sounds and activity on the rooftop will draw plenty of attention from passersby.

This Steven Karr-designed building, known as the Norfolk-Cordell II Building, will likely be a real hub of activity, with two restaurants opening soon, and a Baskin-Robbins/Dunkin' Donuts shop to be added in 2014.