Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bethesda construction update: CAVA at Montrose Crossing (Photos)

CAVA will be opening early this year at Montrose Crossing, at 12037 Rockville Pike. There's still a ways to go here, as you can see. Neighbor Honeygrow in this new building at the property is now open.

Pi Pizzeria to close in Bethesda

These are sad times to be a deep dish pizza fan in Bethesda. First UNO Pizzeria & Grill closed in the Apex Building. Then we traded Chicago for St. Louis with deep dish pizzas from Pi Pizzeria in April 2016. Now Pi Pizzeria has posted a sign that this Friday, February 2, 2018, will be their last day in Bethesda.

They had a great product, and a good location if you knew there was ample public parking hidden behind the building. Pi Pizzeria, which gained fame as a favorite of President Barack Obama's, has one remaining area location, at 910 F Street N.W. in the District.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Macedonia Baptist Church plans month of action on cemetery issue during Black History Month

Macedonia Baptist Church is planning a full month of events to pressure Montgomery County, developer Regency Centers, and their business partners to address the desecration of the Moses African Cemetery at Westwood Tower in Bethesda, and institutional racism in County government. Church representatives and community supporters will first attend the public meeting being held by Regency Centers Wednesday night, January 31.

The church is demanding reparations from Regency Centers, which sold the cemetery site to the Housing Opportunities Commission last month for $20 million, despite knowing there are bodies of the first generation of freed slaves buried there. PNC Bank provided the HOC with the financing for the cemetery site, and now finds itself embroiled in the controversy, which has become the biggest civil rights issue in Montgomery County. The County government has engaged in a campaign of racism and disrespect toward church officials, and the descendant community, throughout the scandal.

Cemetery advocates will press County Executive Ike Leggett at his Bethesda budget forum on February 6 at 7:00 PM at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, the HOC the next day on February 7 at 4:00 PM, the County Council on February 13, the Planning Board on February 22, and at a candidates forum on racial equity at Northwood High School on February 25 at 1:00 PM.

Berliner opens campaign office in downtown Bethesda (Photos)

Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D - District 1) will wage his campaign for County Executive from his home district. He has opened a campaign office at the corner of Auburn and Norfolk Avenues, in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle.

Berliner, who is competing in the establishment-incumbent lane of the race, has surprisingly surged ahead of Councilmember George Leventhal in that lane in recent weeks - despite Leventhal's advantage in holding a countywide office. He had to do that to be competitive in the race, and he seems to have done it. Leading in the fundraising department, Berliner has also picked up some major endorsements. Leventhal, Berliner and former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow will have an uphill climb collecting votes in areas like Westbard; all three were major backers of the highly-unpopular Westbard sector plan, which is now in litigation.

Delegate Bill Frick (D - District 16) is defining himself by emphasizing he is not a Council incumbent, and, like Berliner, opposes the County government liquor monopoly. Another Council incumbent, Marc Elrich (D - At-Large), remains the one to beat in the Democratic primary. Elrich is not only the most popular Democrat in the County, but has received a trifecta of powerful Democratic endorsements - CASA in Action, the AFL-CIO, and the SEIU 32BJ.

Yamas Grill auctioning off entire contents of restaurant today

Yamas Mediterranean Grill appears to be on its way out at 4806 Rugby Avenue in Bethesda. An auction of the entire contents of the restaurant is being held today. In the auction announcement, it says the restaurant is "making way for a new concept," through a "complete liquidation."

Ovens, flatscreen TVs, security cameras, a deep fryer, gyro broilers, a draft beer system, and much more are up for bid. The Greek restaurant, a popular lunch spot for downtown Bethesda workers, has a 3.5 star rating on Yelp, and a 4-star rating on Grubhub.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Canopy by Hilton sign lights up at Pike & Rose (Photos)

The rooftop sign for the soon-to-open Canopy by Hilton hotel at Pike & Rose was lit up last night on Rockville Pike. "Canopy by Hilton Washington D.C. Bethesda North" is located at 940 Rose Avenue in the Federal Realty development.

Demolition begins at Vince & Dominic's/Home Depot Square strip mall in Bethesda (Photos)

The Home Depot Square strip mall, which includes the vacant Vince & Dominic's pizzeria, has been fenced off for demolition. Demolition has begun on part of the structure. The strip mall is located on Auto Park Avenue near the Home Depot and Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Bethesda favorite Vince & Dominic's closed in 2014, after 31 years in business.

Golf Galaxy closes at Montrose Crossing (Photos)

Golf Galaxy has closed in the Montrose Crossing shopping center. The golf "superstore" sold golf equipment, offered repairs and accessories, and had on-site instructional programs and driving range/putting green facilities with a PGA professional.

The last few years have been a mixed bag for the chain, which is owned by Dick's Sporting Goods. On the one hand, up to two-thirds of Golf Galaxy's locations were expected to close four years ago, locations the company termed "low-performing." Yet just last year, Golf Galaxy opened 36 new stores across 16 states.

Their Montrose Crossing space is now available for lease, according to a sign in the window.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Antique and carpet sale underway in downtown Bethesda

A pop-up antique and carpet store is having an inventory reduction sale at 4715 Cordell Avenue. Antiques, rugs, tapestries, accessories, cleaning and rug repairs are up to 50% off.

JBG Smith promises "exciting" new restaurant in Chevy Chase

JBG Smith is touting an "exciting new restaurant" for the vacant Panera Bread space on Willard Avenue in Friendship Heights. The developer, whose headquarters is directly across the street, promises the unnamed eatery will be your "new favorite." Last time the company made such a promise, they delivered World of Beer on Bethesda Avenue.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lost seasons lead to sale prices for Redskins, Ravens at Safeway

I saw these Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens shirts recently on sale at 50% off, at the Safeway at 5000 Bradley Boulevard. The Redskins official website yesterday floated the possibility of the team drafting Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.

L'Academie de Cuisine available for lease in Bethesda

The recently-shuttered L'Academie de Cuisine is now available for lease. Located at 5021 Wilson Lane in downtown Bethesda, this was the local campus of the renowned Gaithersburg culinary school. Call "Ralph" for details on leasing. Meanwhile, here's one last look for nostalgia purposes:

Brookstone to close at Westfield Montgomery Mall

Gift shops as a category have been hit hard at Westfield Montgomery Mall in the last year. The latest to close will be Brookstone. Their last day at the mall will be January 30, according to a store employee. They are currently holding a 70% off sale, with "nothing held back." Take note that all sales are final.

I could not find any reports of mass Brookstone store closures planned for this year, but I see one of their stores in Charlotte, North Carolina will close at the same time as the Bethesda location.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tower Cos.' Brian Abramson joins Bethesda's Sandy Spring Builders

Brian Abramson
Sandy Spring Builders is announcing this morning that Brian Abramson, an owner of Montgomery County-based Tower Companies, will be the luxury homebuilder's newest partner. Abramson joins Sandy Spring CEO Phil Leibovitz and COO Mimi Brodsky Kress as partners at the Bethesda firm, effective immediately.

In addition to his accomplishments at Tower, Abramson is the chairman emeritus of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee, a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and is a LEED-accredited professional.  He also co-founded District Design + Development (D3), a DC multi-family real estate company.

“I am passionate about building homes and believe my values concur with the Sandy Spring philosophy,” Abramson said in a statement this morning. “I want to work closely with the company to ensure that their stellar reputation and legacy lives on.”

Sandy Spring Builders' custom homes dot the landscape of the top neighborhoods in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and NW Washington, and have earned multiple Gold and Silver Custom Home Awards from the Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association.

Leibovitz said Abramson's experience at the Tower Cos. makes him "a perfect fit" for Sandy Spring Builders, and that he will help the company appeal to a new generation of homebuyers. “He is committed to protecting our brand and using our hard-fought belief of being our clients’ builder for life," Leibovitz said.

Signage installed at Chercher Ethiopian Cuisine in Bethesda (Photos)

The permanent sign is up and lit at the future Chercher Ethiopian Cuisine & Bar at 4921 Bethesda Avenue. An awning with the restaurant's logo has also been installed at the front of the building. Chercher is one of two Ethiopian restaurants opening soon in downtown Bethesda, the other being Dinquesh Ethiopian Restaurant at 4865 Cordell Avenue.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

UNIQLO to open store at Pike & Rose this fall

Global apparel brand UNIQLO will open a store at Federal Realty's Pike & Rose development this fall. This will be the retailer's first Maryland location, and its third in the D.C. Metro region. The 8000 SF store will be one of many new additions to the property this year, including the soon-to-open Canopy by Hilton hotel. It will be located at 11853 Grand Park Avenue.

Japan-based UNIQLO opened its first store in Hiroshima in 1984. As of today, it has more than 1900 stores in 19 markets around the world, including Japan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.

The Pike & Rose location will offer jeans made from authentic Japanese Kaihara denim, extra fine merino sweaters, and some of UNIQLO's fabric innovation lines like LifeWear, Ultra Light Down and the quick-dry/anti-odor AIRism. Apparel will be offered for men, women and children.

“Pike & Rose has quickly become the retail destination for the Montgomery County community,” Federal Realty’s Vice President of Leasing Stuart Biel said in a statement this morning. “We look forward to offering the internationally popular UNIQLO brand to the Pike & Rose neighborhood, its first location in Maryland.”

Fish Taco construction underway at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Construction of the future Bethesda Row location of Fish Taco is now underway on Woodmont Avenue. The restaurant will combine two vacant spaces that used to belong to Secolari and Cosi. Fish Taco is now hiring for this location, as well. A sign in the window promises a "Spring/Summer 2018" opening.