Monday, July 04, 2016

Barnes and Noble further cuts back late night hours in Bethesda

The decline of Bethesda's nighttime economy continues, as Barnes and Noble has just cut back its late night hours for the second time in a year. A popular public gathering place in downtown Bethesda, the bookseller will now close at 10:00 PM every night of the week.

This further cements Bethesda's growing reputation as a town that turns in early, following the disastrous "nighttime economy" initiative of Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer. Instead of boosting nightlife, nine nightspots in downtown Bethesda closed.

There are now less nightclubs in downtown Bethesda than there were before the Riemer "effort," which ultimately seemed to be more of a self-promoting media stunt than an economic initiative. As much of a failure as that initiative was, the many anti-business votes by the County Council over the last few years played a major role in the closure of bars and restaurants, as well.

Other casualties have included the closure of one of Bethesda's two 24-hour restaurants, and the elimination of overnight hours for the pharmacy counter inside the CVS on Arlington Road. 24-hour pharmacy service continues in more lively areas like Dupont Circle.

The further decline in nightlife only exacerbates the challenge of attracting young professionals to the County. I've heard from several developers, off the record, who are increasingly concerned about the empty, dark downtown streets that can be found after 10:00 - the time Barnes and Noble will now close, coincidentally.

It's a powerful lesson that, while obsequious media coverage can temporarily protect incompetent politicians, in the real world, businesses react immediately to the economic consequences of those "leaders'" (in)actions.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

The sign was posted two weeks ago. You just noticed it yesterday?

As for "lively" Washington DC, their last Barnes & Noble closed completely in 2015.

#SnoribundDyer

Anonymous said...

All Barnes & Nobles stores within 50 miles of Bethesda

MARYLAND

Bethesda: 9 am - 10 pm every day

Bowie Town Center: Monday - Thursday 10 am - 9 pm
Friday - Saturday 10 am - 10 pm
Sunday 10 am - 8 pm

Gaithersburg (Washingtonian Center): Sunday - Thursday 10-9
Friday - Saturday 10 am - 10 pm

Rockville (Montrose Crossing): 9 am - 10 pm every day


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - NONE


VIRGINIA

Alexandria (Potomac Yard): 9 am - 10 pm every day

Clarendon (Market Common): Sunday 10 am - 9 pm
Monday - Saturday 10 am - 10pm

Fairfax (Fair Lakes Promenade): 9 am - 10 pm every day

Seven Corners Center: Sunday 10 am - 8 pm
Monday - Saturday 10 am - 10 pm

Springfield (Loisdale Center): Sunday 10 am - 9 pm
Monday - Saturday 9 am - 10 pm

Tysons Corner Center: Sunday 10 am - 9 pm
Monday - Saturday 10 am - 10 pm


So there are no Barnes & Noble locations that stay open later than the Bethesda store.


Anonymous said...

What was the 24-hour restaurant that closed? I know Tastee Diner is still going strong.

Robert Dyer said...

5:19: You're dodging the issue - the topic isn't whether you have a bookstore, it's the nighttime economy.

Robert Dyer said...

5:41: What's that have to do with this one, which is unique as a quasi-public gathering and meeting place, cutting back hours? No one is confusing this Barnes and Noble with the one at Montrose Crossing, for example.

Robert Dyer said...

6:02: Hamburger Hamlet.

Anonymous said...

"No one is confusing this Barnes and Noble with the one at Montrose Crossing, for example."

Out of the ten stores on that list, it's odd that you picked "Montrose Crossing". How about Clarendon? And the stores in Georgetown and downtown DC that are completely closed.

"Hamburger Hamlet"

The entire chain closed. Plus, it's not downtown Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

"I've heard from several developers, off the record, who are increasingly concerned about the empty, dark downtown streets that can be found after 10:00 - the time Barnes and Noble will now close, coincidentally."

I love it when "journalists" take their own opinions and attribute them to "anonymous sources".

Anonymous said...

"You're dodging the issue - the topic isn't whether you have a bookstore, it's the nighttime economy."

And Dyer is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Robert Dyer said...

6:21: The Barnes and Noble in Clarendon is not the central gathering spot that the Bethesda one has been. Clarendon nightlife is not on life support like Bethesda's. Just more dodging the issue on your part.

Hamburger Hamlet is alive and well, and still tweeting from its existing locations. You are misinformed.

Robert Dyer said...

6:24: And that's not what happened in this case. Actual top people at top development firms are in agreement with me on the state of Bethesda nightlife, and were speaking off the record. Just as a Washington Post reporter and former County Council chief of staff have recently reported on the County's moribund private sector economy I've been talking about for years.

Robert Dyer said...

6:26: And no one can even understand what you just said. It literally makes no sense in the English language. Are you not a native speaker?

Anonymous said...

I like how in the last couple months Bethesda has added Tapp'd, Suma, Duck Duck Goose, Vuk, Pi Pizzeria, Quincy's, etc. and is about to add World of Beer and a tapas bar, but a freakin bookstore is closing an hour earlier so therefore Bethesda's nightlife is in "decline." Wtf? Does Dyer honestly think there's even 1 person on here who is dumb enough to believe his B.S.?

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 7:56 AM - Surely, as an aficionado of 20th-Century American English slang, you've encountered the phrase "talk out of both sides of one's mouth"? Because that's exactly what you did.

Maybe you didn't realize that the first paragraph in @ 6:26 AM was a direct quote from you?

Dyer @ 7:49 AM - "Hamburger Hamlet is alive and well, and still tweeting from its existing locations."

You're completely delusional.

Anonymous said...

The nighttime economy is supposed to be more than just bars (plenty of those closed too), so this is a blow to downtown Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

"The Barnes and Noble in Clarendon is not the central gathering spot that the Bethesda one has been."

When you say "central gathering spot", are you sure that you mean the actual store, or instead, that nice little plaza outside? Lots of people love to hang out there. That doesn't mean that they are actually patronizing Barnes & Noble.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:35 PM - Yeah, downtown Bethesda was much greater when we had hillbillies from Westbard coming to the CVS at 3 AM to refill their Oxycontin.

Robert Dyer said...

9:07: Of the above list, only Quincy's is an actual bar/nightclub. And none are targeted at the Union Jack's/BlackFinn early 20s demo. So most intelligent readers are indeed prepared to accept the premise of my article.

Robert Dyer said...

9:33: You're delusional - I still follow Hamburger Hamlet On Twitter, and they're still promoting remaining locations. You also misused your English slang term quite badly. You don't sound like a native speaker.

Anonymous said...

9:37 AM Barnes & Noble was a great later evening meeting place- inside, not just outside.
The vast majority of folks in there aren't buying books, so I wonder how the store is doing. It is a de facto meeting place, however.

Remember, a successful night time economy isn't just about liquor. Even in terms of bars/restaurants, there's been a net loss since the task force first met. Putting the debate about bars aside and excluding alcohol, is there anything new to do in Bethesda in the evening since the task force met? When the Regal cinema closes, that eliminates one of the big nighttime activities for people.

Robert Dyer said...

9:37: Plenty of people hanging out in the cafe and charging their devices inside. They may not buy any books (hence the early closing time, as County Council policies slash away at the store's profit margin). Seriously, who can defend the dark and empty streets of Bethesda after 10:00? Oh yeah, the same people who ardently defend Barwood cab and the County liquor monopoly. How do you stay motivated?

Anonymous said...

"Plenty of people hanging out in the cafe and charging their devices inside. They may not buy any books (hence the early closing time, as County Council policies slash away at the store's profit margin)."

Having "plenty of people hanging out" in your store without actually buying anything does not sound like a successful business model. How is this the MoCo Machine's fault?

Anonymous said...

"I still follow Hamburger Hamlet On Twitter, and they're still promoting remaining locations."

Name one.

Anonymous said...

Sherman Oaks, California. Still hawking their Zucchini Zircles too.

Since it's too complicated for you to figure it out, try
http://hamburgerhamlet.com/ OR
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hamlet/109332016070

You're welcome, 11:28.

Anonymous said...

One location, 3,000 miles away.

MoCo Machine's fault!

#DyerForgotToSignInAgain

Anonymous said...

Two minutes to hit back at me? Sheesh, your reply came up the same time as my post.

I named one. That was the challenge - "Name one." I did. What's your problem?

Anonymous said...

B&N makes their money in the children's section I think. A lot of books for young children can't be digitized (pop-up and sensory books).

Also, I saw Dyer's nemesis Riemer at the Takoma Park 4th of July parade today. Riemer looked gawdy in his stars 'n stripes pants. No way Dyer would wear those!

Anonymous said...

B&N has way too much floor space in a high-rent area.

Much of the floor space at the B&N is no longer used to sell books. The first floor is mostly stationery and Nooks. Also, a large section is now devoted to toys and games. And on both the basement and the second floor, there are large areas of floor where there are no display shelves at all. The CD shelves have shrunk to the point that they are now only about one-eighth of the audio-video section.

Also, while low bookshelves may seem more convenient and less claustrophobic, they are an inefficient use of floor space.

B&N needs to shrink to something along the size of the old Olsson's on Old Georgetown Road, or at least to the size of the original Borders on Rockville Pike. If they are to survive in the current location, they need to lease out at least one floor to a subtenant.

Anonymous said...

12:31 PM - I've seen no proof that Dyer ever actually wears pants. All of his photos are from the waist up.

Anonymous said...

Problem is putting in a Nike store, H&M, etc. aren't conducive to creating a community meeting space.

Anonymous said...

Hans Riemer's War On the Night:

Black Finn - Benny Greenberg

Hard Times - closed due due to financial difficulties related to owner's illness. Now Quincy's.

Parva - was not a nightspot in 2011 (Angeethi Indian restaurant)

Relic - closed for repeated liquor law violations

RiRa - Arlington location closed at the same time

The Roof/Urban Heights/relocated Tommy Joe's - site was an abandoned furniture repair shop in 2011.

Steamers - closed for repeated liquor law violations

Tommy Joe's - moved to new, better location (see above)

Union Jack's - now Tapp'd

Did I forget any?

Anonymous said...

I like how Dyer says Tapp'd isn't a bar/doesn't count as nightlife, yet a freakin B&N counts as nightlife. WTF universe is this douche from?

Anonymous said...

LEAVE DYER ALONE! He's a superhero and an all-round awesome guy! I'll bet the City Council did this!!!

Anonymous said...

We're seeing some fireworks here as Bethesda residents debate the future of our downtown's nighttime economy.

Anonymous said...

3:26 PM - I love how a drug store counts as "night life".

Most of the "community meeting space" vibe in the Barnes & Noble comes from the Starbucks inside.

Anonymous said...

3:39 PM Who said a drug store was "night life"? However, businesses that are open late are part of the night time economy.
Urban planning 101. If everything in town closes at 9pm, that's a disaster for a downtown's night time economy.

Anonymous said...

"If everything in town closes at 9pm"

What closes in Bethesda at 9 pm, other than the Dispensary?

Anonymous said...

Super hero? All-around awesome guy?

Not sure I can trust 3:29's judgement on anything else. Lol.

Anonymous said...

That's all the proof Dyer needs for any of his opinion pieces. So FACTS and evidence.

Anonymous said...

Dupont Circle has a CVS with a 24-hour prescription counter.

However Georgetown, Glover Park, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase DC, Adams-Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights and the U Street corridor do not. Does this mean that all of these neighborhoods are "moribund", too?

Also, MoCo has six CVSs with 24-hour prescription counters, whereas DC has only three. Given that MoCo has twice as many 24-hour CVSs than DC, in spite of having a population that is only 1.5 times greater, does this mean that DC is 33% more moribund than MoCo?

Anonymous said...

@ 3:51 PM -

There is a course called "Urban Planning 101" and it teaches that "if everything in town closes at 9pm, that's a disaster for a downtown's night time economy"?

Robert Dyer said...

3:26: Tapp'd is a bar but is targeting a slightly older, more sophisticated demographic than Union Jack's. It's not a dance club. Sorry, but Barnes & Noble indeed is part of the nighttime economy as a gathering place.

Robert Dyer said...

2:40: Yep, you did forget some, including Parker's and Gaffney's. Also, Tommy Joe's moved, which doesn't count as a new nightspot.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Leventhal certainly has coarsened the public discourse in the county. The comments on his side here and his public comments recently certainly reflect that.
Too bad, it wasn't always that way.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 6:08 PM - what exactly are your criteria for "nightspot"? What did Gaffney's and Parkers have that Tapp'd supposedly does not?

@ 6:24 PM - LOL at TeamBirdbrain.

Anonymous said...

Birdbrain @ 6:08 PM - Who said that Tommy Joe's was a "new nightspot"?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:34 PM - Dyer's criterion for "nightspot" is "closed". Once you realize that there is no such thing as a "nightspot" that is "in Bethesda" and "open". it will start to make sense to you.

Elm said...

For all the time and resources wasted on the Nighttime Economy task force and related programs, is it too much to ask for tangible results and benefits? The Washington Post said they couldn't find anything of substance coming out of Mr. Reamer's efforts.

Anonymous said...

TeamBirdbrain cites the "old lapdog legacy print media" when it suits their needs. And most of the time the citation is ridiculously lacking in context.

Elm said...

8:14 PM You're dodging and dancing around the question, as usual.
The Post found that nothing came of Mr. Reamer's Nighttime efforts. No one posting here has ever pointed to anything either.
I wish he was successful, but he wasn't.

Robert Dyer said...

6:34: Never said Tapp'd wasn't a nightspot - just that it is aimed at a different audience than Union Jack's, BlackFinn, Relic, where the target demographic was younger.

Anonymous said...

"Tapp'd is a bar but is targeting a slightly older, more sophisticated demographic than Union Jack's"

Dyer, you're saying that like it's a bad thing...and I'm not even sure it's true. The 21-25 y/o crowd eats up the skeeball, air hockey, etc. Penn Social-vibe. I'm guessing you haven't been on a Saturday night because it was pretty near packed with Millennials when I tried it out.

Anyways, that's the best thing about Bethesda's nightlife these days - it's way more varied instead of all just being almost exclusively low-end Blackfinn/Tommy Joes/Union Jack's junk. Now we have a wider variety of bars, performance venues (who would have ever thought something as cool as Villain & Saint would open in Bethesda?), etc. so a wider range of people can find something they like.

Ditto for the county as a whole - Bethesda used to be the only place to go when I was growing up, but now downtown Silver Spring has surpassed it and Rockville, Gaithersburg, North Bethesda, etc. also have gone from zeros to at least having a decent number of solid/good options.

Robert Dyer said...

10:48: I'm not here to get into the fine points of Tapp'd. For the love of Pete, stop trying to change the subject. The crowds that were once on the sidewalks in the Woodmont Triangle late at night are gone. The mass crowds of young people who went to Union Jack's, BlackFinn, Relic, The Parva, etc. are smaller. The streets around all of Bethesda are dark and deserted after 10:00. These are not points up for debate, and people with a financial stake in hospitality and development are increasingly concerned. Classic Saul Alinsky tactics aren't going to get you out of the losing position of your argument.

I agree with your comments about Silver Spring surpassing downtown Bethesda, and about it being positive to have variety in the nightlife options. But we have to give all of the credit for that to the businessmen who've actually invested in opening Tapp'd, Villain & Saint, Vuk, etc. The County Council didn't pave the way for any of those to open, and in fact, are planning yet more anti-business votes and wage/tax hikes that will hurt their profit margins further.

While not everyone likes something like BlackFinn or Union Jack's, not having those type of establishments does send more young people into the District at night. In addition, I've said for years that we need higher-end nightclubs like you find in Vegas, South Beach or Los Angeles. Those will attract young people, and pockets are certainly deep enough around here to afford it. Having a velvet rope line out front isn't just pretentious, but actually helps energize and activate the street around it.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Bethesda desperately needs to improve its nightlife, CVS and Barnes & Nobles are not "nightlife."

Bethesda has made headway in actual nightlife over the past year or so. You covered it yourself.

Anonymous said...

The suburbs are becoming too urban.

The suburbs are not urban enough.

Anonymous said...

I have never understood the hate for Robert. For the record - I am 28 years old and after living in downtown Bethesda for nearly 6 years (11 total in the DC area), I recently moved to Stamford, CT. Stamford is everything Bethesda had the potential to be. There are SO many young professionals here. The nightlife scene is fantastic. It's been such an enjoyable change! When I first moved to Bethesda, we would bounce from Sapphire to Black Finn to Union Jacks and every place was packed with young people having fun. Now the streets are deserted. One of the number one reasons I moved from Bethesda was the decline in the social scene. With all the new high rises, Bethesda officials are letting all the young people be priced out. Bethesda is becoming a retirement community that will never have the energy and panache it used to. I loved Bethesda and was very sad to see the decline.

Anonymous said...

The CVSs in MoCo which have 24-hour prescription counters are in Cabin John Mall, Darnestown, Germantown, Kensington, Langley Park and Olney.

Absolutely no correlation between those areas and "nightlife".

Anonymous said...

@ 7:21 AM - Rising rents are a huge problem here, both for residents as well as businesses, especially bars and restaurants.

But not building any new housing is most certainly NOT going to hold rents down.

Of the new apartment or condo buildings that have been built in the past few years, only the Lauren and the other one on Hampden Lane have replaced existing housing. All the others have been built on the sites of gas stations, small office buildings, or shops.

Rents are going up because Bethesda is a popular place to live and visit, NOT because new housing is being built to meet the demand.

G. Money said...

Dyer @ 3:00 - What about Bethesda makes you think it could support the types of high-end nightclubs that exist in Vegas, South Beach, or LA? Have you ever been to any of those clubs? And what market research are you looking at that suggests such a club would draw young people to Bethesda? Are you aware that nightclub attendance has been declining overall for years?

Anonymous said...

What I see is the council trying to force an area to become popular, but not keeping up with the market changes, and certainly not being smart about their decisions.

For example: where are the little markets? 2-3 blocks is what people will walk for quick household staple runs. Where are the small rental spaces?


Anonymous said...

@ 7:41 AM - While I miss the convenience store that used to be where the 7770 building is now, and I will miss Dunmor's when it is gone, I have several "little markets" within a half-mile radius, including the 7-11 and the CVS. Plus a new grocery store about to open just a quarter-mile away.

Anonymous said...

"What about Bethesda makes you think it could support the types of high-end nightclubs that exist in Vegas, South Beach, or LA?"

Yes, it's kind of silly to think that if downtown DC, Georgetown and Adams-Morgan can't support such clubs, that Bethesda will be able to do so.

Anonymous said...

"Sapphire to Black Finn to Union Jacks"

Funny how at least two of those are Greenhill properties.

Anonymous said...

7:51 - So you're saying Greenhill was trying to improve the nighttime economy with rentals to several nightspots?

Anonymous said...

TeamBirdbrain sure is quick to defend Lenny's moribund properties.

Anonymous said...

I don't defend anyone. I make observations. I wasn't sure what 7:51 was trying to say. Someone went to 3 bars and 2 were Greenhill properties. What was their point? I guessed at one.

But, I gotta say 8:02, you were damn quick to respond to my post. Even quicker than I was. And you called me out on it. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Bethesda caters to an older crowd. Look at all the families with kids running around Bethesda Row. As the younger nightlife crowd marries and have kids they move to places like Bethesda where the crime rate is low and the schools are good. The participation in the nighttime economy begins to diminish once little kids are added to the family. Also, Montgomery County, including Bethesda, is experiencing a large wave of Asian immigrant inflow--now around 17 percent of the County's total population. The Asian immigrant inflow can be expected to shape the future direction of the County. 25 percent of new technology-related businesses in Montgomery County are now started by Asians (compare to Asians starting 40 percent of technology-related businesses in Silicon Valley). Asians make up a disproportional share of students in the gifted and advanced placement programs in the public schools. The Asian immigrants that are moving into Montgomery County are high-income and well-educated.

Anonymous said...

Georgetown does not have the nightlife that it had in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet somehow it is still doing quite well.

Anonymous said...

Georgetown has kept it's off-beat eclectic charm.
Without changing to high-rises.
Without a Metro stop.

Anonymous said...

"it's" should be "its." Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I grew up in the '60s in Georgetown, when it was really cool, with eclectic shops and great bars and restaurants. Today it's mostly a mall for Georgetown students and their parents. Chain stores and restaurants abound. No more Little Caledonia or La Ruche...

Anonymous said...

Georgetown Park is a dead mall.

Robert Dyer said...

6:45: Never said they were, but correctly said they are part of the "nighttime economy," which relies on live bodies actually being awake and out to support those businesses at night.

I don't think we've made strides at all regarding nightlife in the last year; we're still trying to catch up to where we were before Riemer got into office and starting running the nighttime economy into the ground. That's why many restaurant and bar owners are actively supporting the term limits effort.