Sunday, January 25, 2015


Design Within Reach has closed at 4828 St. Elmo Avenue, and while it looks like an empty furniture store right now, I remember this space best as Johnny Rockets. The ubiquitous mall hamburger chain was an early forerunner of burger joints to come in Bethesda, like BGR, Five Guys and Kraze Burger. Arriving in the 90s, the same decade in which Bethesda was saying goodbye to Hot Shoppes and its legendary Mighty Mo, Johnny Rockets was a throwback in a rapidly modernizing downtown.

Founded in 1986 by men's fashion retailer Ronn Teitelbaum, the restaurant's nostalgic 50s atmosphere and design was inspired by "the belief that everyone deserves a place where they can escape from today’s complicated world and experience the uncomplicated goodness of classic Americana," says the company's website.

I remember the hamburger was very good, even if it did not reach the level of the Mighty Mo. So were the chili fries, but the milkshake may have been the best of all. What I didn't like as a takeout customer was the cheap carryout containers made from that paper material McDonald's is wise enough to only employ as a drink tray. It did not improve the quality of the chili fries in transit.

Now that the Johnny Rockets space is vacant, can we bring burgers back to this corner with Shake Shack? Steak and Shake? Habit Burger Grill? Spike Mendelsohn? Burger Tap and Shake?

Burgers are bigger than furniture. I mean, when was the last time you saw Barack Obama and Joe Biden jump out of their limo and go furniture shopping?

For those seeking furniture and light fixtures, Design Within Reach has moved to 3306 M Street in Georgetown, according to a sign in the window.


Anonymous said...

Don't we have enough burger/pizza/sandwich fast casual lunch places?

What Woodmont Triangle needs is a cool, locally owned coffee joint for folks walking to the Metro every day....something so that we don't have to go to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts every day.

I love Bold Bites breakfast food...just not their coffee.

Wrol said...

I think a cool coffee place would be great too, but is there enough market space for it?

There is already Starbucks, Peet's, 2 Dunkin Donuts, Quartermaine, and plenty of breakfast spots.


Anonymous said...

Yeah that could work -- most of the coffee places in Bethesda offer little enticement to sit around. I think Cosi probably has the best options.

If Busboys & Poets, Politics & Prose, or Kramerbooks moved in, I think they could do well.

Anonymous said...

"Burgers are bigger than furniture."

What??? Are you playing with dolls' furniture, again?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you have credited Bethesda Magazine with the scoop that this place closed?

Robert Dyer said...

2:14: You seem to have poor command of the English language, and its many uses. Sign up for community college, and you may one day get more enjoyment from reading material above kindergarten level. You would find, for example, that word meanings are NOT ALWAYS LITERAL.

Robert Dyer said...

3:12: No, all the info was on the sign outside. In contrast, when I reported about Barrel & Crow, I gave a link and credit to Bethesda Magazine for their scoop about the details, as there was no public display or press release.