Friday, February 23, 2024

Hinata to temporarily close in Bethesda

, a Japanese grocery store and sushi carry-out at 4947 St. Elmo Avenue in downtown Bethesda will be taking one of its annual short breaks starting today, February 23, 2024. The store will be closed though this coming Monday, February 26, 2024. Hinata will reopen for regular hours on Tuesday, February 27.

Ala restaurant sets opening date in Bethesda

The new, second location of D.C.'s Ala restaurant in Bethesda now has an opening date. It will begin operation on Friday, March 1, 2024 in the former Positano Ristorante Italiano building at 4948 Fairmont Avenue. Featuring the cuisine of the Levant region of the Middle East, Ala is owned by Bethesda resident Deniz Gulluoglu, and the kitchen will be helmed by native Maryland chef Zachary Baker. 

Among Baker's specialities on a menu that draws from the culinary traditions of nations like Turkey, Syria, Israel and Lebanon will be mutabal, biber dolma, and adana kebab. Ala's wine list will feature selections from Georgia (the country, not the state), Israel, Lebanon, and Italy. Cocktails will employ turmeric, sumac, fig, rhubarb and dill. A bottomless brunch will be offered on weekends, and the restaurant will host a happy hour from 2:00 to 6:00 PM, Monday through Thursday.

The 90-seat dining room will retain many elements of the decor from Positano. "When the time came for Positano to undergo a renovation, AAG Interiors approached the task with reverence and respect for the memories that had been woven into its walls," Jelal Gulluoglu, owner and architect, AAG Interiors said in a statement. "It was very important for us to understand the significance of preserving the essence of Positano while creating the space for ala’s new location." New additions include new lighting, renovated restrooms, and an expanded bar with seating. For those who prefer al fresco dining, 30 seats will be available on the patio - weather permitting.

At a time when many Americans are cutting back on restaurant dining, Ala will be welcoming the community by reducing the cost of eating out. First-month customers will receive 30%-off on their dining check, and a parking reimbursement discount will offered for each reservation. "We have always wanted to open a second restaurant closer to our home, in our community," Deniz Gulluoglu said. "Bethesda restaurants offer an array of culinary flavors, and we are thrilled to offer the community Ala Bethesda, an exceptional Levantine dining experience, in the heart of Bethesda."

Photos courtesy funfoodgroup

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bethesda Black cemetery advocates to protest at Jamie Raskin campaign event tonight

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will hold a protest rally outside of a campaign event for Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin (D) tonight, February 22, 2024, at 7:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda have been seeking Raskin's help in getting federal action on the historic gravesite, which is hidden under parking lots behind the Westwood Tower apartments. BACC President Marsha Coleman-Adebayo says that the cemetery is in Raskin's district, but that he "refuses to condemn the desecration and flooding" of the burial ground.

Those interesting in participating in tonight's protest are asked to meet up at Ben and Jerry's at 903 Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring (across from the Civic Building) at 6:00 PM tonight. But if you can't get there that early, just head to the Civic Building at 7:00.

Dig Bethesda soft opening appears to be underway today

A soft opening appears to be underway today, February 22, 2024, at Dig. Located at 4733 Elm Street in Bethesda, the fast-casual "seasonal comfort food" is now officially scheduled to open tomorrow, February 23. But if you are in the area already, you might want to check it out today.

Bethesda Lidl grocery store construction to start

Work on the interior fit-out of the new Lidl grocery store at 7625 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda is set to begin. A construction permit for the interior work has just been issued by Montgomery County, and has been posted at the site. Some preliminary work on a vestibule area was performed in December 2023. Lidl will be the new anchor tenant of the Bethesda Place development, replacing Safeway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ledo Pizza Corner Shoppe expected to reopen at Westbard, Potomac Giant stores today

The new Ledo Pizza Corner Shoppe inside the Westbard Giant grocery store at 5320 Zenith Overlook in Bethesda shut down only a couple of weeks after it opened. Last Friday night, the Take-and-Bake Ledo pizzas were gone, and other non-Ledo merchandise was placed on the shelves. The Corner Shoppe page, which listed all of the participating Giant locations and menus, disappeared from the Ledo website a few days later. What happened?

Last Friday night

A spokesperson for Ledo Pizza said that the company began the Corner Shoppe program without realizing that additional paperwork had to be filed with the State of Maryland. Those documents have now been submitted. According to the spokesperson, the Westbard Giant and Potomac Promenade Giant Ledo Pizza Corner Shoppe locations are anticipated to reopen and begin serving pizzas again today, February 21, 2024.

Non-Ledo Pizza merchandise filling the shelves
last Friday night

Corner Shoppe page on Ledo Pizza website

7126 Wisconsin high-rise plan revised to accommodate neighbor The Seasons in Bethesda

Developer Foulger-Pratt has revised the design of its planned high-rise at 7126 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, in response to concerns from next-door neighbor The Seasons. The wing of the building that is to be adjacent to The Seasons, which is also a high-rise apartment building, will now be 10' back from the property line on the second-through-sixth floors. A corresponding change has been made to the same wing on the Miller Avenue side of the building. 

Bethesda Avenue design "before"

Bethesda Avenue design "after"

Foulger-Pratt's attorney, Heather Dlhopolsky, writes in a letter to the Montgomery County Planning Department that it is "the Applicant's understanding that the representatives of The Seasons are now supportive of the project and its accompanying revisions." The changes have reduced the total gross floor area of the project, and will therefore reduce the amount of the required Park Impact Payment to Montgomery County. With windows now facing west on the affected lower floors, the new design is also more pedestrian-friendly under the "eyes on the street" theory.

Miller Avenue "before"

Miller Avenue "after"

7126 Wisconsin Avenue incorporates several lots, including the current or former homes of Vace Italian Delicatessen, Starbucks, Lance's Beer & Wine, Carroll Community Bank and Capital One Bank. When completed, it will hold up to 335 residential units, up to 9000-square-feet of retail space, and underground parking. The project revisions will be reviewed by the Bethesda Design Advisory Panel today, and - tentatively - by the Montgomery County Planning Board at its March 7, 2024 meeting.

Renderings courtesy SK+I Architecture/Architect: Andy Czajkowski

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Suspects sought in assault and theft at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police are looking for three suspects in a February 5, 2024 assault and shoplifting incident at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The three entered Zara and grabbed merchandise, police say. On their way out of the fashion boutique at 12:22 PM, they allegedly assaulted a store employee. This is the second assault reported at the mall this year.

Police describe the suspects as a Black male around 40 years of age, a Black male aged 20-25, and a Black female aged 20-25. If you can identify any of the suspects, or have any information related to this incident, you are asked to call police at the anonymous Crime Solvers tipline at 1-866-411-8477, or the non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Dig opening "next week" in Bethesda

The highly-anticipated opening of Dig at 4733 Elm Street in Bethesda will be happening "next week," the New York-based company posted on social media yesterday. This will be the "seasonal comfort food" chain's 34th location nationwide, according to the post. A succession of fallen dining tenants have lived short business lives at this space, despite its prime corner location next to Bethesda Row. There's hope that Dig, with the backing of Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, will have the money and buzz factor to draw the crowds here. 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Bethesda Boards crowdfunding The Alley pub

The owner of Bethesda Boards is reaching out to the community for financial support to help fully realize the vision for The Alley, a pub, live music venue and event space at the skateboard shop, located at 7900 Woodmont Avenue. Raising $35,000 would facilitate construction of two ADA-compliant restrooms, and electrical and plumbing upgrades, which are all necessary to receive approval from Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services inspectors. The GoFundMe account has brought in $920 as of this writing. Owner Kaare Wieneke says the project "has proven to be more challenging and costly than initially expected. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment, requiring additional support to bring this vision fully to life."

Super-bright lights installed at Kenwood Station in Bethesda

A spotlight is being shone on the parking lot at the Kenwood Station shopping center in Bethesda - literally. Ultra-bright light towers have just been installed around the lot of the shopping center, which is anchored by the popular Whole Foods Market grocery store. Photos can't do the intensity level of the lights justice, which may shine into windows of the adjacent homes in Kenwood. 

Like many retail properties, Kenwood Station is responding to the increase in crime in Montgomery County, seeking to improve safety and security. While the shopping center is not known as a crime hot spot, police did fatally shoot a burglar behind the grocery store thirty years ago, in April of 1994. At the time, the store was a Fresh Fields supermarket.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Assault at Potomac restaurant draws police response

Montgomery County police officers were summoned to a restaurant in the Potomac Village area this past Thursday night, February 15, 2024, after an individual reported having been the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a restaurant in the 9900 block of Falls Road at 8:07 PM Thursday.

Pinnacle bank branch leases ground floor space at The Wilson in Bethesda

, a financial services and banking firm, has leased a ground floor retail space at 7270 Wisconsin Avenue in The Wilson office tower.  As you can see, furniture, wall art, and even some potted plants have already been loaded into the branch office. Pinnacle has two other locations in the region, in Tysons and Columbia. Given the business focus of the office tenants upstairs, it probably makes sense to have a bank in the ground floor of the tower.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Assault reported at Pyle Middle School in Bethesda

Montgomery County police were dispatched to Thomas W. Pyle Middle School Wednesday morning, February 14, 2024, after a 2nd-degree assault was reported there. The assault was reported at 8:07 AM Wednesday.

Westwood Shopping Center fenced off in Bethesda (Photos)

The Westwood Shopping Center on Westbard Avenue in Bethesda has been fenced off. As a result, the remaining vehicle entrance to the property from Westbard now only provides access to the Kenwood Place condominium residences and professional offices. The 1959 strip mall and surface parking will be demolished to make way for a new apartment building with ground-floor retail and restaurant space, a town square, a new street and an EYA townhome development. Anchor tenant Giant has relocated to the Phase 1 building of that Westbard Square development, directly adjacent to the old shopping center.