Saturday, March 31, 2012


Co2 Lounge Brings DJ Manifesto from the
World Stage to Bethesda Tonight

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Tonight at 9:00, Co2 Lounge in Bethesda presents the Bethesda debut of DJ Manifesto. Manifesto brings a new plot twist to the usual dance floor m.o. He mixes electronica with classical music, and somehow manages to play a violin while working the turntables(!).

In other words, this is going to be an unusual evening you won't want to miss, for the novelty if nothing else.

DJ Manifesto has performed in London, Asia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, New York and here in DC at the swanky W Hotel.

He has played with artists such as Seal, Benny Benassi and Paul Van Dyk.

Tonight, Co2 Lounge is bringing him to Bethesda, and you can be a part of it from 9:00 until they close it down.

Co2 Lounge, 7401 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda.

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

The first fifty women at BlackFinn Bethesda's Cupcake & Cocktails event tonight at 9:00 will receive a FREE CakeDreams cupcake!

They will also get their first drink of the evening for one cent.

BlackFinn Bethesda, 4901 Fairmont Avenue. 301-951-5681.

Governors McDonnell, O'Malley Begin
Discussion on Top Regional
Transportation Priority

Isn't it great to be ahead of the curve? In addition to advocating for the construction of the DC Outer Beltway on this blog, I've also been keeping you up to date on the small moving parts behind the scenes on the issue. Like the "Outer Beltway bills" in Richmond, the redesignation of corridors, Sen. Mark Warner getting on board, etc.

So now that it is being discussed at the highest level, regular readers have known this was coming long ago.

Yes, the Outer Beltway is finally going to happen after 60 years of delay.

What does the Outer Beltway mean for Bethesda? It means great news: finally, the gridlock between Tysons Corner, the I-270 spur and Gaithersburg will be relieved. If the Rockville Freeway is also built, the spur backups would be entirely eliminated. With eventual completion of the I-270 widening, the Watkins Mill interchange, and the M-83 Highway, I-270 would essentially be jam-free.

If I-95 were one day completed through DC - as it was planned to - and the North Central Freeway and Northern Parkway were built, so too would the Beltway gridlock be a memory of the past.

But in a day of tight budgets, the Potomac Crossing is the first step.

Where will the Outer Beltway go?

There are only two reasonable route options, and only two matching connections on the Virginia side.

On our side, we have the ICC/I-370 (the final Outer Beltway alignment chosen by planners in the 1970s), and the Rockville Freeway right-of-way (Rockville Facility).

The ICC is the likely choice, as it now reaches the Sam Eig interchange of 270, as well as I-95 at its eastern end. And it's already built.

The Rockville Freeway/Facility provides access to both interstates, as well. Currently known as Matthew Henson State Park, this highway facility reaches the ICC near Indian Spring Country Club. Hence I-95 traffic could take the ICC, and exit onto the future Rockville Freeway.

The Rockville Freeway would then connect to the existing Montrose Parkway (a silly road squatting on a portion of the Rockville Freeway right-of-way). Originally, the freeway was to occupy the full west portion of Montrose Road over 270. That right of way remains all the way to Falls Road. In fact, I have seen the real estate records for the purchases of land around the future freeway's intersections with Seven Locks Road and Falls Road. (Cloverleaf interchanges would have been built at both).

Two advantages the Rockville Freeway alignment would have over the ICC are shorter distance to Virginia (hence, far cheaper), and a clearer path to the Potomac River west of 270 (cheaper yet! Those eminent domain seizures and lawsuits are expensive).

Originally, the Rockville Freeway was planned as the Outer Beltway, and was to cross the Potomac near Virginia's Riverbend Park.

That brings us to the waiting connections across the river.

The two options are VA Rt. 28, and VA Rt. 286 (formerly SR 7100) a.k.a. Fairfax County Parkway.

In a world of sensible people, both get connected to Maryland. But it's complicated.

The Rockville Freeway was designed to line up with the Fairfax County Parkway to create the western half of the Outer Beltway. Once the ICC alignment was chosen for the Outer Beltway, planners dropped the Rockville Freeway crossing.

At that point, planners on both sides began to consider the Rt. 28/Dulles Airport corridor for the Virginia portion of the Outer Beltway.

If the ICC is selected as the Potomac Crossing route, you can be pretty sure it will connect with Rt. 28 (a.k.a. Sully Road for its northern section).

Wait a minute, you might ask, why would they take the longer route?

Good question!

To answer it, pretend you are a leprechaun. I'm serious.

Now open Google Maps, and search for "Dulles Town Center" (Sterling, VA).

Ok, just to the left of that is Sully Road. Now, Lucky the Leprechaun, scroll south on Sully Road, and start counting the cloverleafs. Each one of those is a grade-separated interchange (like the Beltway, the Outer Beltway will have exits, not traffic signaled intersections).

Wow, this is your lucky day! There are a ton of them!

Now look at Fairfax County Parkway. Uh-oh. Lots of work to be done.

One of the many stealth actions smarter planners on the Virginia side have taken is to prepare Rt. 28 for interstate highway designation.

They've also taken smaller steps towards that on the Fairfax County Parkway, but as you can tell from the map, it's nowhere near ready. 28 needs work too, once you get into Centreville. But there's plenty of room there to expand.

So if you're gambling, put your money on the ICC-370-Potomac River Bridge-VA Rt. 28 alignment.

There's plenty of time and room to bring Fairfax County Parkway up to interstate standards, and one day connect it to the future Rockville Freeway via another Potomac River bridge, as originally planned.

How will the Outer Beltway be completed?

It's interesting. Remember I told you a few weeks back my prediction that the ICC will be extended to Bowie? That gets you to MD Rt. 301.

Now, take VA Rt. 28 to its end. Then take Route 17. You've got an interchange with I-95 there as you head east. You've made a critical connection with Fredericksburg. Now keep following 17 east, and then Rt. 218 east. Eventually, you connect to...

Rt. 301! You've made a complete circle. An Outer Beltway.

But there are many alternative routes to accomplish that.

Right now, expect the governors to concentrate on the bridge crossing, and handling interstate volumes between western Montgomery County and the Dulles area.

And, alas, rumor has it that there will be tolls!

Friday, March 30, 2012

UP TO $210?

First 200 People in Line to Receive
Gift Cards Saturday at 10 AM

Ladies, are you a fan of Forever 21 at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda? You may want to turn in early tonight. (Or plan to have coffee in the morning).

That's because Saturday morning, March 31, is the Grand ReOpening of Forever 21 at the mall!

More importantly, the first 200 people in line by 10 AM will receive FREE Forever 21 gift cards. The cards will have different dollar amounts, and some lucky winners will get the cards worth $210! Will you be one of them?

That's not all - another winner will be chosen Saturday to receive one of Forever 21's hottest ensembles for Spring, an outfit hand-selected by their stylists worth up to $150.

Forever 21 is located near Sears.

So set some extra alarms for tomorrow morning, because the doors open at 10:00 AM!

Has the Park Bethesda Ski Mask
Gang Reemerged on DC Side of Line?

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

The January 19 Park Bethesda armed robbers remain atop Bethesda's "Most Wanted" list.

No incidents fitting their description (3 robbers using firearms, wearing ski masks, assaulting and robbing victim of property) are found in the Montgomery County Police official crime report.


Let's check SpotCrime's unofficial report:

Assault, 5000 block of Dalton Road, Bethesda, 3/24/12

Robbery, 4200 block of Connecticut Ave. NW, DC, 3/28/12

***Armed Robbery, 4000 block of Connecticut Ave. NW, DC, 3/28/12
According to SpotCrime:
Metropolitan Police Department officers reported an armed robbery "at gunpoint" at 2:01 PM on Tuesday, March 28. Suspects described as 2 black males, who fled the scene and are still at large.

This sounds somewhat like the ski mask gang, fits their m.o. of operating near Metro stations on the Red Line (Van Ness, in this case), but there are only two robbers mentioned. And there is no specific mention of them wearing masks. Is this a different group, or have they lost their Third Musketeer?

Were they the same guys who committed that second robbery on Connecticut that same day? That second incident (above) does not mention "armed" but it is reminiscent of how the ski mask gang struck on Wisconsin Avenue one night, the victim escaped, and then they struck again just a few blocks south.

It's a waiting game at this point. Certainly, there were no armed robbery incidents reported in nearby NW or Bethesda for several weeks. No official information on this incident is available, which is strange, because the SpotCrime source for this says the robbery was reported by MPD units.

No crimes of any kind were reported in the Westbard Sector this past week. Police remain on patrol in the area.

Nothing's changed at the Westwood Shopping Center; large portions of the parking lot were pitch black again for the entire week, as of last night. Park Bethesda residents must brave the darkness to walk over to the Giant or Rite Aid, as Capital Properties - for reasons still known only to them - simply refuses to activate full lighting on the property at night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


New Beverages Debut for Spring at
Uncle Julio's at Bethesda Row

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

When you think of drinks at Uncle Julio's, their many special margaritas may be what come to mind.

But Bethesda Row's popular Mexican restaurant and Happy Hour spot has a new lineup of Spring beverages for all ages.

The weather is getting warmer, and after a long day at work - or a hot workout at the gym - these new drinks will hit the spot:

MANGO PASSION LEMONADE - You'll be passionate about this hand-shaken blend of lemonade and Uncle Julio's fresh Mango Passionfruit puree.

STRAWBERRY GUAVA LEMONADE - An exotic blend of fresh strawberries, guava nectar and lemonade.

CHERRY LIMEADE - A collision of sweet cherry and tart lime.

RASPBERRY ICED TEA - Freshly-brewed with real raspberries.

RASPBERRY ICED PALMER - Want lemonade with that Raspberry Iced Tea?

Enjoy patio dining al fresco, and cool off with one of these refreshing drinks at Uncle Julio's today.

County Promises Aerial Crossing Will
Remain in Operation Throughout Repairs

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

One of "New Bethesda's" most prominent landmarks is getting an overhaul. This spring, Montgomery County will begin an 8-month renovation of the pedestrian bridge over Old Georgetown Road.

The bridge connects Bethesda Place with The Metropolitan (which also houses the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, and a 1,100 space public parking garage).

90 feet long, this bridge is only 13 years old. I can actually remember the Metropolitan being built. It was just a skeletal framework, and all of the car horns honking in the traffic jams were echoing inside of it. Once completed, the bridge - like the Bethesda Metro Center - became a symbol of the "new" Bethesda, and the futuristic potential ahead. Alas, the record, architecturally-speaking, since then has been quite the mixed bag.

What are they doing to the bridge?

Cleaning, painting, fascia repairs, cladding and railing support replacement.

The east end approach bridge connection will be replaced. A new truss bridge drainage system will be installed. Stamped, lightweight concrete will replace the existing concrete pavers.

Last, but not least, they'll replace the expansion joint that connects the truss bridge with the approach bridge.

Got all that?

Do you use this bridge? If so, you'll be glad to know that - according to the county - the bridge will remain open during all of this work.

Now that is amazing, given the above list of repairs. This bridge has served the public well for over a decade, and this work will ensure it continues to do so well into the future.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Dear readers, I could use your help. And you could win tickets to Washingtonian Magazine's Best of Washington 2012 Party, July 11 at the National Building Museum.

If you find this blog and/or my Twitter feed @BethesdaRow to be useful, I would super appreciate if you would take a minute to vote for one or both in the Washingtonian 2012 survey.

To do so, for #31, Best Local Blog, type "Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row"

For #32, Best Local Twitter Feed, type "@BethesdaRow"

Answer whichever other questions you wish, fill in your name and phone/email at the bottom to enter the ticket drawing, and submit.


Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Good news for those who were concerned about Anika Manzoor, Bethesda resident and student at Grinnell College, who was struck by a freight train in Iowa. Manzoor is making a full recovery from her minor injuries, and will be returning to school next week.

Her father, Manzoor Hossain, posted an update here on Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row, and wanted all who expressed concern to know the family appreciated their prayers and well wishes:

"Ms. Manzoor is spending Spring Break with her parents in Bethesda and Kensington. She plans to go back to school April 02. We are happy to report that she is on her way to making a full recovery from her injuries (a simple fracture and a few cuts and bruises). She fully understands and accepts the fact that the momentary lapse of judgement on that fateful afternoon could have led to a greater tragedy. We all are very thankful to everybody for their prayers and best wishes."

-Manzoor Hossain (father)

Fabulous news! All of us make mistakes, it is a normal part of life. As someone said, if you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything. But I believe everything happens for a reason, and something good has come out of this: Although this was not a pleasant experience for her, Anika Manzoor may have saved lives, by making young people more aware about railroad safety. So there are two positive endings to this story.

Best wishes to the Manzoor family.


APRIL 16-22, 2012

Your Chance to Try All of the

Great Restaurants at Bethesda Row!

It's official! Bethesda Row Restaurant Week 2012 will be April 16-22!

Mark your calendar, and stay tuned for the official list of participating restaurants and menus.

But count on Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row to come up with the inside scoop for you: Here is a sneak preview of the Bethesda Row Restaurant Week 2012 menus for one of the most popular spots on the Row, Jaleo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

$1000 OR MORE

Oversized Montgomery County
Rapid Bus Network Would
Drain Wallets, Existing Metro System

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Can anyone stop Montgomery County's runaway rapid bus proposal? Despite a serious "Emperor's New Clothes" problem, not a single journalism outlet in the DC region has spoken out against the BRT plan, or even provided an in-depth critique.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the "Montgomery County Rapid Transit Task Force" is considering tax plans that could charge Bethesda condo and single-family home owners well over $1000 per year, according to the Washington Post. This whopping tax increase would be just to pay for BRT.

With that kind of abuse of county taxpayers ahead, someone needs to speak out soon. Strangely, the BRT process - nominally public - has provided no forum for public input, even as the task force has dragged out its deliberations for a year.

There have been a handful of presentations, a jumble of different and confusing plans, but no public comment or involvement. And much like the panels of developer agents testifying about the Rockville Pike plan before the Rockville Planning Commission, no dissenting opinions are being permitted.

Allow me to present the very first critique of perhaps the most audacious fiscal and tax boondoggle in Montgomery County history.

First of all, you can't have a few elected officials ram a $2.5 billion dollar transit project through, with a back room plan presented and voted on with one public hearing in 2013. This process needs to SLOW DOWN. NOW.

Second, there is no credible evidence that people will ride rapid buses once they are in service. If they've got the miracle numbers, why not share them with us?

Third, on routes such as Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue and Georgia Avenue, BRT is a duplicative service. If you believe people will switch from a faster subway to a slower bus, then you are taking revenue from the already struggling Metro system. But if people don't switch, the buses will be empty. Either result is a complete waste of money.

Fourth, if we can so easily raise revenue for BRT, why wouldn't we just raise enough to add capacity to the Red Line north of Grosvenor and Silver Spring?

Fifth, likewise, we could take just a fraction of the $2.5 billion, and buy more Ride On and Metrobus vehicles. Run them one behind the other on 355, for example, and you'd have the same 5 minute service intervals.

Sixth, we don't have highway capacity for these buses on many of the proposed routes. You can't take a car lane for rapid buses, and no one can take seriously the bizarre suggestion that they would knock down buildings in downtown Bethesda to make room. Ridiculous. It ain't gonna happen.

Seventh, why hasn't a figure been released for the time savings BRT will provide users? Will it be 2 minutes faster? Five? Zero? And will you be willing to pay $1000 a year more in property taxes to arrive 2 minutes faster on a bus? Is there anyone who would answer, "Yes!" to that question? Put your hand down, Warren Buffett. Most recent discussions have suggested that much of the system will run in regular traffic. If that's not a waste of money, I don't know what is.

Eighth, the primary muscle behind BRT (aside from some councilmembers' desire to point to this massive albatross and say, "look what I accomplished, now vote me to higher office") is - guess who - the developers! Just wait. We'll soon hear that neighborhoods along BRT are now eligible for "Transit Oriented Development." This means suburban, residential areas in Aspen Hill, Olney and Rockville will have their commercial areas bulldozed for "town centers" to tower over their backyards. And you'll pay for the developers to profit, to boot.

Ninth, what exactly will force the public to use BRT? We have a good bus system now, but people don't use it. Do we have to spend $2.5 billion to either subsidize laziness, or even worse, find out no one will use a rapid bus, either? I say laziness because, I've been used early in my life to walking a few blocks to get a bus to a Metro station. I've waited 30 minutes (and even 60, when the bus didn't come) in cold and/or heavy rain, often without a bus shelter to get under. Do you need to pay $1000 a year to subsidize people who think they are too special to do that? Are they made of sugar? Are they going to melt? Deal with it. I'm tired of being lectured about buses by people who don't ride them, when I've logged more Metrobus hours than they have combined!

Tenth, county and regional "smart growth" gurus keep talking about "walkability" and "pedestrian safety." How does making roads even wider, and thundering buses down the middle of them, make major roads easier and more quick to cross on foot? Hmm.

Eleventh, why are corridors like River Road excluded from BRT? The waits for buses are longer there than some of the roads proposed for BRT service.

Twelfth, how does it make any sense for Bethesda residents to pay for the BRT anyway? Bethesda Metro Center is the southern end of the line on the proposed 355 route. Hardly anyone is going north out of Bethesda in the morning, or south to Bethesda in the evening. Most downtown Bethesda residents will either commute by car, bicycle, or they will walk to the Metro and take the Red Line downtown. So what are we paying taxes for, exactly? Bethesda is getting virtually no use of the proposed system. Downtown Silver Spring residents could justifiably say the same thing.

The fact is, we have a great bus system now. Except for outrageous actions by the county council - who cut weekend and holiday service on Ride On Route 90 (Shady Grove Metro-Damascus), stranding non-driving Damascus residents in town on those days - you can actually get around quite well. We have Metro. And we have cars, but an incomplete highway system.

The Post said "County officials and task force members say (BRT) is the most affordable option available to move commuters along increasingly congested corridors such as the Midcounty Highway, Randolph Road and Rockville Pike."

Really? "Survey says... BRRRRNNNNNNNNNTTTT!!"

Come on. Midcounty Highway is not even a corridor, and MCDOT has already said BRT is unnecessary on Midcounty Highway Extended.

Rockville Pike? Again, add more conventional buses. Synchronize the stoplights. Use Metro, and/or add more Red Line capacity for less than $2.5 billion.

Randolph Road? Build the Rockville Freeway for a sliver of what the BRT would cost, and you move the long-distance, cross-county traffic off Randolph permanently. Combined with the already-scheduled interchange at the Randolph-Georgia Avenue intersection, the Rockville Freeway restores Randolph to A-1 operating capacity.

There are only a few corridors where BRT would make sense. One is Veirs Mill Road, but WMATA already has a solid plan to improve bus service along that corridor for far less than the cost of BRT.

Route 29 is another. Along with the Corridor Cities Transitway, a BRT line there would be a good pilot project. Will people really ride a bus just because it comes every 5 minutes in the middle of the road?

Even there, however, it's worth a try to promote what we've already got. Humorously, the Post claimed that the only way to reach a popular Indian grocery store on Old Columbia Pike is by car.

If this mystery store is the one I'm thinking of near the intersection of Old Columbia Pike and Briggs Chaney Road, it is served by no less than 4 - 4!! - buses: the Z6, Z8 and Z9 from Silver Spring Metro, and Ride On 39.

I've done my homework. With $1000 more in property taxes on the line for the biggest boondoggle in county history, it's time for county officials and the local media to start doing theirs.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Fellow supporters of the Rockville Freeway:

Several developments favoring construction of this long-delayed, 6-lane highway connecting the Montrose Parkway east of 355 to the ICC near Indian Spring Country Club have occurred.

The biggest news is the oversized town center known as Twinbrook Metro Place. A development equal to or larger than Rockville Town Center itself, the project includes no highway improvements to ameliorate the traffic it will generate.

There is much dispute about whether the developer's plan to get a waiver for reduced parking will result in overflow vehicles parking in other nearby retail centers. The model used by so many developers today, is that spaces will vacate after 5:00, and restaurant diners and bar revelers will then fill them. In other words, as office drone A backs out of his parking space, Lounge Lizard A is tapping his steering wheel impatiently, ready to pull in for his bottom shelf margarita and so-so chicken sandwich at the Mixed Use Mixed Grill. Does this theory translate to reality? Not in Bethesda.

Height is another concern. While it makes sense to have tall buildings near Metro stations, not all Metro stations are in 360 degree urban surroundings. Twinbrook Metro, and this proposed development site at 1592 Rockville Pike, are backed primarily by homes in Twinbrook on Rockland, Lewis and Vandegrift Avenues, and Lemay, Holland and Halpine Roads.

It is not appropriate to have buildings of 15 stories looming over single-family homes. At the same time, Rockville's Mayor and Council gained a "concession" by the developer to make it 14 floors at last Monday's meeting. It seems if you're going to 14, one more floor won't make much of a difference.

Granting these parking and height concessions now makes them standard for every other future development within the Metro station's eligible proximity. Ultimately, this is the result not of a scheme by the developer, but of Rockville's recently-updated (and supremely developer-friendly) zoning code.

A Responsible Growth zoning code, and planning principles, would have acknowledged reality, and made clear that Twinbrook Metro will never have the density of a downtown DC stop. Unfortunately that didn't happen.

In totality, this and similar projects will overwhelm the Pike and other nearby roads. Only with the Rockville Freeway in place can adequate traffic capacity be provided in the 355 corridor.

Unlike the recent JBG announcement of its second White Flint project, Twinbrook Metro Place offers no unique architecture or sense of place, either. But the bottom line is, if you are bringing this many cars to Rockville Pike, the developer and the city have an obligation to provide the infrastructure required to support that growth.

With a second JBG project at White Flint, thousands of new units at the soon-to-be demolished White Flint Mall, the County Council trying to add apartments to the proposed Walmart site on Rockville Pike, and the Mid-Pike Plaza mini-Manhattan on the way, Twinbrook Metro Place only increases the pressure to build the Rockville Freeway. Without it, 355 simply cannot manage the coming volume requirements for traffic.

Finally, the council has tentatively tabled funding for the Montrose Parkway East. Like the existing Montrose Parkway, the extension will primarily use the existing right-of-way meant for the Rockville Freeway.

Stopping that project is good news. The Montrose Parkway is too narrow at 4 lanes, and its speed limit is too low. But worst of all, instead of building an interchange at Veirs Mill Road (as the Rockville Freeway would), Montrose Parkway East diverts from that route and connects to Veirs Mill across from Aspen Hill Road.

This alignment is a catastrophe. First, it means more land seizures from owners who had no way to know this would happen. The Rockville Freeway's long designated path requires virtually no demolitions of homes or other property.

Second, going forward with the parkway means having to pay for an intersection, but then building a ramped interchange anyway when the Rockville Freeway is built.

Third, we'd be making the same mistake again: 4 lanes when six are needed, and a silly parkway design rather than an interstate-standard highway. Why in the world is Montrose Parkway like that, when Montrose Road is six lanes, and has interstate-style sound barriers?

Fourth, the Parkway would dump eastbound traffic into the residential neighborhoods of Aspen Hill. In contrast, the Rockville Freeway would take cars closer to their ultimate destinations in Howard County, Baltimore and eastern Montgomery County.

The parkway delay is the perfect time to reassess the mess, and plan to build the Rockville Freeway instead. There is no other way to provide the capacity needed along Rockville Pike, Randolph Road, Edmonston Drive, Veirs Mill, Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Ave.

The Rockville Freeway will connect the burgeoning employment and residential hubs of White Flint and Columbia.

If it is built!


Weather Channel Ranks Maryland
#3 Tornado Risk State in US

Head for the basement, folks - Experts at The Weather Channel have conducted a study. Compiled a list. And when it comes to deadly tornadoes, they have just declared Maryland the third most dangerous state in America.

Who knew?

The Weather Channel's Greg Forbes said we're just behind Florida and Kansas, because of the atmospheric effects from the Appalachian mountains, Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.

According to the study, Maryland has 9.9 tornadoes per every 10,000 square miles (pretty impressive, considering we don't even have 10,000 square miles in the state!).

First earthquakes, now tornadoes. Time to stock up on canned goods!

Sunday, March 25, 2012




Sold Out Movie Inspires Costumes,

Workouts and Hairstyles

When die-hard fans, some in costume, gathered at Barnes and Noble at Bethesda Row the evening before the Hunger Games premiere, fever over the year's first blockbuster was just beginning.

Friday night, fans attended a special premiere at Montgomery Mall, which raised money for Invisible Children - the charitable arm of the Stop Kony movement.

Rain drove more people into theaters this weekend, and preliminary box office numbers are big.

All of this hype is creating opportunities for local businesses to capitalize on the moment.

Washington Sports Club is offering a free "Train Like a Tribute" workout on the next 7 Tuesdays, at their Chevy Chase, DC location (just take the Red Line one stop down from Bethesda to Friendship Heights). This punishing workout will pit you against your classmates until one is left standing. WSC promises to whip you into Jennifer Lawrence shape, including a bow and arrow portion. Maybe you don't want to stand right in front of the person behind you...

A little less taxing offer for ladies who want to look like the Hunger Games heroine is Refinery 29's DIY Guide to the Katniss braid, no hair salon necessary.

As for myself, call me when The Avengers opens.

Popular Farmers Market Moves to
Bethesda ES Parking Lot April 1

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Today's Bethesda Central Farm Market in the Elm Street parking lot from 9-12:30 will be the last ever at Bethesda Row.


Not to worry, however: Next Sunday, April 1, the BCFM will move to its new weekly location, the ample parking lot of Bethesda Elementary School. For out-of-towners, Bethesda ES is located at the corner of Arlington Road and Wilson Lane. Vehicles can enter from Arlington Road. In addition, you can ride the Bethesda Circulator over that way.

The main reason for the move, is that Woodmont Avenue - between Bethesda and Miller Avenues - will be closing for a couple of years, starting in about two months. This closure is necessary for the construction of two new mixed-use buildings on soon-to-be-former public Parking Lots 31 and 31A.

Engineers with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation have advised that traffic will be more congested than ever in the Bethesda Row area. Traffic patterns will change, and drivers will be frantically searching for parking spaces in the vicinity. Because the BCFM is in a parking lot, and also generates its own traffic, the decision was made to move to Bethesda ES, to better accomodate the safety of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists around Bethesda Row on Sunday mornings.

Two other benefits, are that parking will be free and easy at the new site, and there will be plenty of room to add new vendors, entertainment and activities as BCFM continues to grow in popularity.

Obviously, this is an inconvenience and disappointment for those who live in Upstairs at Bethesda Row or The Seasons. But it is not that far to walk, and the weather is now great for walking.

In addition, the new site is - true to the market's name - more centrally located. So in addition to the easy walk from Bethesda Row or the neighborhood behind Giant and the Bethesda Library, more folks who live in "Old Town" Bethesda (Triangle Towers, 8200, Whitehall, The Palisades, Bethesda Place, Fairmont Plaza, Lionsgate, etc. - just to name a few!) will be able to walk over and enjoy the market.

The location is changing next week, but it will be the same market as always, so the new spot will be old hat before you know it.

**P.S. The market needs 5 volunteers on Sunday, April 1, to man (or woman) the old Elm St. location and direct patrons to the new Bethesda ES site. Volunteers will receive a $25 BCFM gift certificate! To volunteer, email Mitch at

Saturday, March 24, 2012






Is there a bigger style icon in the world than Kate Middleton?

Are you one of those women who follows Kate's sartorial tour de force as she travels the globe?

Luna boutique on Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Row wants you to know that you won't have to travel the world to find this exact pair of jeans Kate wore while counseling a fellow enduring a severe Fashion Emergency in London recently.

That's because Luna carries them.

Montgomery May Soon Be Last
County in MD without a Casino

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

If you own the Arundel Mills Casino, you're having a bad weekend.

First, Prince Georges County announced plans to open a casino with more slots than a Vegas parlor.

Friday, multiple media outlets reported that Charles County wants a piece of the action. State lawmakers are quickly and quietly moving on legislation to allow the southern Maryland county to open a casino.

Here's the best part: it is located less than one foot from Virginia soil.

If you're not aware, starting at the low tide mark on the shore in Colonial Beach, Virginia, Maryland has jurisdiction over the waters of the Potomac River.

During the 1950s, several casinos operated on piers at Colonial Beach until the gambling was outlawed. On those perches over the water, they were technically in Charles County.

One such casino remained after the golden age ended. I happen to be very familiar with Colonial Beach, and I can tell you this place used to be called The Reno.

Today, it is known as "The Riverboat on the Potomac," and Virginia company Blueridge Ventures is asking for a license to add 1200 slot machines. It estimates these machines would raise $46.5 million annually for the state of Maryland.

The proposal would require the consent of Maryland voters on the 2012 ballot. We now know that Maryland voters will approve just about anything they are told to approve, given that those same "anti-casino" voters handily approved slots a few years ago.

So this legislation is near certain to pass. It should be especially appealing to Maryland politicians and voters, because Maryland gets all the revenue, while Virginia mops up any resulting crime or social problems.

At the same time, I can also tell you from experience, that Colonial Beach has been experiencing hard times tourism-wise since slots left town in the late 50s. Obviously, that was before my time, but the last nice stuff was crumbling away through the 80s and 90s.

So they'll be glad for the influx of gamblers. And the world doesn't seem to end in the many Canadian towns that host casinos. But it does pose a challenge to destinations that want to be known as "family-friendly."

It's funny that just a few weeks ago, I was raising the question of whether a casino would ever open in Montgomery County. The idea seems impossible now. But, as I mentioned, look what happened in Prince Georges County. Much like statewide opinion polls showed, Prince Georges overwhelmingly opposed slots when Gov. Bob Ehrlich proposed legalizing them. And Gov. O'Malley said slots were "morally bankrupt."

About a year later, O'Malley was the biggest backer of one-armed bandits on the East Coast. Ike Leggett and several councilmembers urged Montgomery's delegation in Annapolis to vote for slots - and most did.

And Prince Georges County? A recent poll showed a very slim majority of residents now support slots.

I mention these facts for your consideration, to realize just how quickly political machines in Maryland and local counties can flip-flop on a hot potato issue as contentious as slots.

And how quickly they can use the media to change public opinion.

National Harbor developer Peterson Cos. is supporting that massive casino, which would be located at that site. Peterson is now part of a smaller development here in Bethesda, called Rock Spring. It has been said that hotels at National Harbor and in Ocean City were pre-configured for slots, even though no official plans existed for such casinos at the time.

With casinos popping up in every large county in the state, politicians ready to flip-flop overnight, and county and state spending increasing rather than downsizing... much longer will it be before someone asks for a casino license in Montgomery County?

You have to wonder. I'm predicting it now. Write that down, and tell me if I'm right in a few years.

What do you think about a casino (or more than one) opening in Burtonsville or Bethesda? Impossible? Terrible idea? "Brilliant, I'll be there every weekend?"

The news from Charles and Prince Georges County suggests the time to think about the issue is now.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Park Bethesda Ski Mask Gang
Still at Large

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Another week without an armed robbery has passed, and the Montgomery County Police official crime report contains no incidents related to the 3 armed, ski mask robbers who struck in the Park Bethesda parking lot January 19.

Let's check the unofficial SpotCrime report for any incidents that might relate to the Ski Mask Gang or a similar group:

Robbery, 4400 block of Reservoir Rd., NW, DC, 3/18/12

Assault, 7900 block of Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 3/19/12

Assault, Bethesda Metro Center, 3/17/12

Assault, 9600 block of Forest Rd., Bethesda, 3/19/12

Assault, 5800 block of Conway Rd., Bethesda, 3/16/12

None of these sound like the ski mask trio. Police continue stepped up patrols in the Westbard area. It seems that the ski mask folks are laying low indefinitely. Meanwhile, Capital Properties maintained its reduced lighting policy in the Westwood Shopping Center parking lot, which reduces safety for patrons at night. Except for a short return of the lights two weeks ago, large portions of the lot have been pitch black at night for more than a month.

But What Grocery Store Will
End Up in The Darcy?

Remember I said to be skeptical about the last announcement of a closure date for Bethesda Avenue lots 31 and 31A?

Well, you were ready then for the latest delay. Yes, they've moved it (again) from April 1 to April 10.

And 60 days later, Woodmont Avenue will close between Bethesda and Miller Avenues.

I'm wondering just what the parking impact will be. The new electronic signs at the Elm Street Bethesda Avenue garages claim there are between 100-something and 400 spaces available during the evening rush hour/dinner time.

Are those all dining/shopping-suitable spaces? And with 279 spaces being lost, you can tell that 150 spaces in the garage won't cut it. Some people refuse to park in a garage, and some of those folks may be gone for good.

The future replacement parking will be all garage.

The Darcy is one of the two buildings going up on the site, and there are new questions about what grocery store it will have onsite.

Rumors last fall suggested that Harris Teeter would come to Bethesda Row. I seconded that prediction based on the comments of a real estate veteran, and the fact that the same developer snagged Harris Teeter for a building it opened in the District.

But talk of Harris Teeter coming to the (disappointing) Trillium replacement project at Wisconsin and Battery Lane, starts the debate anew.

Can there be two Harris Teeters that close, just as Safeway has two downtown Bethesda stores? It's certainly possible. Will the developer turn to another chain (alas, fellow Wegmans fans, there isn't enough room on the ground floor for Rochester's finest grocery store - unless they give them two floors!)?

Or will the promised grocery concierge simply go down the block to the Bethesda Row Giant?

Stay tuned!

Westfield Montgomery Mall Pairs
Movie Excitement with a Cause

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Hunger Games fans will be able to enjoy the movie, and boost a cause, at tonight's Westfield Montgomery Mall Theater premiere.

A thought-provoking book series and film - with themes of socioeconomic inequity and violence involving young people - lends itself well to the real-life human castastrophes in Africa today.

Westfield is offering a special premiere package for $20, a portion of which will go to the Invisible Children organization. The package includes one Hunger Games ticket, a medium popcorn, and a soda.

Here is tonight's schedule:

6:00-7:15 Music, "mingling and munchies." Meet the Invisible Children "roadies," and learn more about their organization.

7:30 PM Screening of "Kony 2012"

8:00 PM Hunger Games

You don't have to donate or watch "Kony 2012," however. Simply buy an ordinary ticket and enter at 8:00 for the movie. (Of course, if you're like me, and hate coming in late when all the good seats are taken, you're probably going to have to sit through Kony!).

There are always other theaters. But if the Hunger Games has inspired you to become more involved in politics, charitable causes and the local and world community, Westfield is offering a great opportunity to take action tonight, even as you enjoy this long-awaited film.

Obviously, this screening could sell out, so take my advice and get your tickets early today at or at the Montgomery Mall theater box office. Call the theater directly at 301-469-5180 anytime today if you have questions.

Until next time, save us the aisle seats.

The Movies at Montgomery Mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

More Italian wines to try in downtown Bethesda - the great news is that these are different from the ones poured at Cesco last night. So even if you tried the 10 wines at Cesco, these are two you didn't.

The best news? This tasting is FREE!!

Capital Beer and Wine will offer samples of two Italian wines today from 5:30-7:30 PM.

The first is a Ca'Stella Pinot Grigio, from Friuli in northeast Italy. CBW says it "has light, slightly tart fruit flavors of lemons and peaches," and pairs well with linguini and clams or chicken with mustard sauce.

Second is a red, Montaribaldi's Dolcetto D'Alba "Vagnona," from Italy's northwest Piedmont region. Its low acidity and "rich flavors of ripe red raspberries" make it an ideal companion for beef, sausage, pasta or stews.

Stop by today for the free tasting, or any day for more great wine advice at Capital Beer and Wine.

7903 Norfolk Avenue, Bethesda. 301-656-8855.

Katharine McPhee has one. Carrie Underwood has two. Even Eddie Van Halen has one. Yes, every celebrity seems to be carrying around a little dog these days. Can you strut your mutt like those stars?

Of course you can! And this Saturday from 11-2 on Bethesda Lane at Bethesda Row, you can help the Washington Humane Society in the process.

For a $25 donation to WHS, your pet will receive a 10 minute photo session, and one digital photo from the shoot to take home. Behind the camera will be Stephen Bobb of Fidojournalism.

Is your dog ready for his or her close-up? Find out Saturday at Bethesda Row! To reserve a time slot in advance, go to and sign up.




Westbard Bowling Alley Plays Up

Retro Theme with Revamped Entrance

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Check out the new signs on the front entrance of Bowlmor in Bethesda. The individual bulb design is a throwback to classic American signs of the 50s. What do you think about them?

These are the type of signs you might have found at motels, bars, bowling alleys or in Vegas during the 50s-70s. Although I wonder how Westland parents feel about having a "Bar and Grill" sign so close to the school? I suppose one reason they added that sign was to let people know that it isn't just a bowling alley, and that you can order cocktails and dinner even if you don't bowl.

Of course, the Westbard area continues to lack a family-oriented, sit-down restaurant. The last was Farrell's, which sadly closed in the mid-80s. Today, Farrell's is better known as Anglo Dutch Pool and Toys, which took over the space in the Westwood Shopping Center.

I used to play arcade games, bowl and eat hot dogs at this classic bowling alley when it was Bowl America. The building is a landmark, and I'm glad the interim owner, Strike Bethesda, was able to keep it standing and operational as a bowling alley. I do miss Bowl America, though.

While the overall vibe of the new entrance signs is retro, Bowlmor features upscale food by celebrity chef David Burke.

They also have special events like Sunday Funday, Sundays from 8:00 to close. Games are only $4 and shoe rentals $2.

Bowlmor is great for dates, groups or corporate/office events (which are a specialty for them).

Call 301-652-0955 for more information about planning events.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Cesco Osteria, the new Italian restaurant and nightspot on Woodmont Avenue, is offering a special $20 tasting of Italian wines tonight, 6:30-8:00 PM.

Walk-ins are welcome!

Try 10 Italian wines, including the three "Killer Bs:" single-vineyard Barolos, traditional and modern Brunellos and Piedmont Barbarescos.

You'll also enjoy hors d'ouevres, included in the price.

Ladies, stick around the rest of the evening in Cesco's CO2 Lounge, because it's Ladies Night.

So, if you've been wanting to try some new wines without breaking the bank, tonight's the night at Cesco.

7401 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda. 301-654-8333. 21+

Mechanical Bull Returns to Union Jack's

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

The mechanical bull is back at Union Jack's Bethesda, tonight at 8 PM!!!

Union Jack's bets you can't stay on for 8 seconds - them there's fightin' words, pardner! Are you up to the challenge?

Take the bull by the horns, or just enjoy the entertainment as your fellow humans try to. But everyone will enjoy 50-cent wings, and $2-off all craft and specialty beers all night.

Union Jack's, 4915 St. Elmo Avenue.


Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

McDonald's just introduced two new items yesterday: the Strawberry & Creme Pie, and the Strawberry Milkshake.

This limited edition pie is the first two-filling pie in McDonald's history. And the Strawberry Milkshake returns after a hiatus, new and improved. The milkshake is made with real fruit, not just flavoring.

How do they taste?

Click here for my exclusive video review of both!

Try these new treats today at both Bethesda McDonald's locations. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @BethesdaRow to find out what's going on in Bethesda 24/7!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012




New England-Style Seafood Restaurant

Gets Closer to the Beach in Bethesda

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Regular customers or passersby at Bethesda's Freddy's Lobster and Clams have likely noticed the work being done out in front of the Cordell Avenue restaurant.

Freddy's' "extreme makeover" appears to be just about finished, and here are photos of the result. In addition to being an upgrade of the original, the redesign would be at home on any famous Atlantic boardwalk. If you turned around 180 degrees, you would expect the beach and the ocean to be behind you. Who knows, maybe Freddy's will one day follow Mussel Bar to Atlantic City (or, preferably, Ocean City!).

But for now, the only place in the world to enjoy Freddy's lobster rolls, one-day-a-week fried chicken special, and stupendous beer list is right here in Bethesda! Now, if they can just replace the sidewalk with a boardwalk...

Freddy's Lobster and Clams, 4867 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814



Not-so-"Desperate" Actress and Activist

Celebrates Birthday in DC with Help from

Elm Street's Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

Activist and actress Eva Longoria was in Washington this week, and her birthday just happened to fall during her trip.

Rather than cancel her trip - which included her appearance as a national co-chair of President Barack Obama's reelection campaign - Longoria celebrated here in DC, at the swanky W Hotel near the White House.

And the birthday cake?

Her cake was custom-ordered from Fancy Cakes by Leslie, right here at Bethesda Row on Elm Street.

To see the cake yourself, click here

As you would expect for a star who sets flashbulbs ablaze on red carpets, and has fashionistas envying her latest wardrobe change, the cake design was anything but ordinary.

Longoria's busy schedule includes a repeat turn as executive producer and host of the Alma Awards this year.

Hopefully, next time around, she'll stop by the boutiques and restaurants of Bethesda Row.

After all, her role as an activist brings her often to Washington. And her official gig with the Obama campaign means she must be pretty tight with Michelle Obama, who has visited Bethesda Row several times.

That's right: an Eva/Michelle ladies' night at Bethesda Row, and our Commander-in-Chief finally stopping by Kraze Burger to try The Matiz burger.

Sounds like an Alma Awards weekend plan for Longoria, who might just want to stop by Fancy Cakes by Leslie for some baked goods to go.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Project Runway on Bethesda Lane for
Year 4 of DC's Biggest Fashion Event

It's official: The Front Row at Bethesda Row 2012 will be the biggest yet!

Mark your calendar for May 17-19 for the biggest fashion event in the DC area.

This year's VIP guest will be Andy Cohen of Project Runway, The Rachel Zoe Project, Top Design and The Real Housewives of...

He'll be signing his book, "Most Talkative," and be front and center for the Bethesda Lane fashion show on May 18.

The movie at Bethesda Row Cinema this year will be an exclusive screening of "God Save My Shoes," and it will include a live Q&A with producer Thierry Daher.

And, of course, more sales and fashion events at the boutiques of Bethesda Row than ever before.

Stay tuned for more details, and follow me at @BethesdaRow on Twitter.

The Easter Bunny will be making exclusive appearances at Westfield Montgomery Mall, starting this Saturday, March 24.

Mr. Bunny will be holding court near Macy's on the lower level to pose for photos from 11-2 and 3-5 and 7-9, Monday-Saturday, and 11-2 and 3-6 on Sundays through Saturday, April 7.

What does he do during the off hours? According to Westfield, his contract calls for "carrot breaks."

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Bethesda Rhythmic Gymnast Brings
Pacific Rim Gold Haul to 3

Bethesda's Julie Zetlin is on a winning streak ahead of her trip to the 2012 London Olympics. Zetlin followed up Friday's All-Around gold medal with two more Saturday, at the Kellogg's Pacific Rim Championships.

The previous Pan American champion took first place in Ball (25.300) and Ribbon (25.250). Zetlin's performances suggest she has recovered from her injuries last year, and bode well for her prospects against formidable competition in London this summer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


2012 Olympian Taking Home Medal for
All-Around Victory, More Events Today

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

In a warm-up for the 2012 London Olympics, Bethesda's Julie Zetlin bested the rhythmic gymnastics field in the All-Around event yesterday at the Kellogg's Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Washington.

Zetlin took the gold with a total score of 99.900.

Her event scores were:
Clubs 23.150
Hoop 25.950
Ribbon 25.100
Ball 25.700

Competition continues today at 6 PM EDT, with individual events. NBC will broadcast highlights of yesterday's events from 1-3 PM this afternoon. If you get the "rainbow package" on cable, it's possible you might find live coverage tonight at 6 on one of NBC's digital channels (or on your digital broadcast TV (4.2, 4.3, etc.).

Friday, March 16, 2012


No New Armed Robberies to Report,
Capital Properties Takes
Westwood Shopping Center
Back to Dark Ages

Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

The Jan. 19 Park Bethesda armed, masked trio is still at large. No armed robberies fitting the gang's method of operation have been reported.

Let's examine any other crimes within the group's operating area, which centers on the Western Avenue border between Maryland and the District. Specifically, assaults, robberies and auto thefts. This trio clearly has utilized vehicles, given the distance of the Park Bethesda from the nearest Metro station. Criminals in this situation could make use of stolen cars, and switch them as necessary.

Assault, 5100 block of Dalecarlia Place, Bethesda, 3/13/2012 (SpotCrime)
Assault, 7359 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, 3/13/2012 (SpotCrime)
Robbery, 2800 block of New Mexico Avenue, NW, DC, 3/13/2012 (SpotCrime)
Assault, 4900 block of Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda, 3/11/2012 (SpotCrime)
Assault, 4900 block of Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda, 3/10/2012 (SpotCrime)
Robbery, 4800 block of Nebraska Avenue, NW, DC, 3/9/2012 (SpotCrime)

The only notable incident reported by the Montgomery County Police was a theft of vehicle at Macarthur Blvd. and Brickyard Rd., outside of the Park Bethesda robbers' area of activity.

In other news, Capital Properties bizarrely has turned off the lights in one-third of the parking area at the Westwood Shopping Center. Apparently, they think the community is not intelligent enough to realize the lights are off. Once again, it is a dark and dangerous trip to the grocery and drug stores for residents of Park Bethesda and Westbard Mews, who walk across the darkened area of the lot.

After Friendship Heights retailers agreed to leave on more exterior lighting, and Pepco replaced some faulty streetlights, it is beyond embarrassing for Capital Properties to decrease public safety in the Westbard area by extinguishing lights that have been lit at night for decades.

The lights have been off three nights, as of Thursday night. Lighting remains on in parking areas directly in front of stores in the shopping center, as it did during the three week blackout that ended eight days ago.

Now that the lights are out again, nearby residents are wondering what Capital Properties' message is to the neighborhood, even as the developer hopes to win community support for redevelopment of the Westbard sector. Not a great way to go about winning support!


Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive!!!

St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year, and that means it will be an even bigger party than usual.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have a St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Bethesda. I'm hoping that will change some year soon. Redwood showed that things like this can actually be done when they - finally - brought Oktoberfest to Bethesda, for the first time in the town's modern history. If you didn't attend, it was held right here at Bethesda Row on Bethesda Lane. Maybe one day we can have a real St. Patrick's Day parade, like every other town in America! Okay, let me get down off of the community soapbox.

Now to turn to the celebrations that are available around town this weekend:

McDonald's - The Shamrock Shake is the official non-alcoholic beverage of St. Patrick's Day. This new and improved Irish treat not only tastes better than ever, but comes with whipped cream and a cherry on top! Available at East West Highway and River Road locations.

Dunkin' Donuts - Another special for the whole family is the Lucky Mint Donut. This limited-time glazed chocolate donut with chocolate icing is sprinkled with mint bark. Get yours today at Dunkin' Donuts at Bethesda Row, on Bethesda Avenue.

Flanagan's Harp & Fiddle - Where else to start your St. Patrick's revelry than the successor to Dennis Walsh's original Flanagan's Irish Pub: Flanagan's Harp & Fiddle on Cordell Avenue! Flanagan's has secured a place in Bethesda history, and you can secure your place for a traditional Irish breakfast Saturday, starting at 8 AM. But that's just the beginning. Stand clear for the live Irish bands, Irish dancers and bagpiper. Catch your choice of live European rugby or NCAA tournament games on the big screens. Enter the Sexy Leprechaun Contest. Win prizes! Enjoy giveaways! If you know how serious Flanagan's is about giving you a real Irish experience every day in downtown Bethesda, you won't be surprised that they're going all out for the biggest Irish-American holiday of the year.

Ri-Ra - The other obvious choice is Ri-Ra on Elm Street. The Irish pub will have live bands from 11 AM - 1:30 AM Saturday. Kids are welcome for facepainting, balloon artists and Irish dancers. All proceeds go to Bethesda Cares, which keeps your donations right here in our community, to help the less fortunate. Imagine helping others while enjoying St. Patrick's festivities - now that's in the spirit of the day. Naturally, you'll find a nice pint of Guinness here. And you can cast your vote in their Bully vs. Bacon contest, by choosing your favorite: Bully Corned Beef and Cabbage or traditional Irish Bacon and Cabbage.

Freddy's Lobster - Do they have Leprechauns in Maine? If what Freddy's Lobster and Clams have in store for Saturday is any indication, the answer is an authoritative, "YES!" Stop by this popular Cordell Avenue restaurant all day for the usual favorites, plus these St. Patrick's Day specials: Irish Salmon Stew, Irish Lobster Rolls, and Green Whoopie Pies! Order a mug of Frederick's own Flying Dog Lucky SOB Irish Red Ale, brewed with real four leaf clovers. How can you beat that? Oh, and did I mention they're having FREE giveaways of prizes all day and all night? Sounds like Freddy's is another must-visit spot this Saturday!

Union Jack's - FREE breakfast buffet!! 8-10 AM. It doesn't get any better than that, folks! $1 Killian 8 AM-5 PM. From 5 PM to close, enjoy $3 Killian, $3 Lucky Charm shooters, $4 Jameson Irish Whiskey, and half-price car bombs. One other unique draw at Bethesda's British pub: a chance to win a FREE Caribbean vacation! Less unique: they're also having a Sexy Leprechaun contest. And, like Freddy's, they've also tapped Flying Dog Lucky SOB Irish Red Ale. St. Patrick's Day at a British pub? Yes - just don't tell an Irish person you did it. St. Elmo Avenue.

The Parva - The South Beach-inspired restaurant and lounge is one place in Bethesda that is advertising a St. Patrick's Day must - GREEN BEER. $3 Green Beer to be exact. So much Green Beer that they're celebrating with specials both Friday (5-10 PM) and Saturday (6-10 PM): $3 Green Beer, $2 shots and $4 cocktails. Special note: WEAR GREEN and get extra shots! You have to love the ad copy The Parva sent out - in all caps -"LET'S PARTY LIKE IRISH DO - DRINK DRINK, PARTY PARTY!!!!!!!!" Never be subtle when directness will do.

Caddies on Cordell - Caddies is part of the breakfast club in Bethesda, offering "Kegs and Eggs" starting at 10 AM. They'll also fire up the Bloody Mary Bar. Other specials include $6.50 Frozen Green-Ritas, $4 16 oz. green aluminum Bud Light, $6 Green Bulls, $5.50 Red Bull Bombs, $6.50 Car Bombs. No Sexy Leprechauns, but they promise a visit by the Jameson Girls, bearing shots and Jameson swag.

BlackFinn Bethesda - Breakfast here, too. "Kegs and Eggs." Now where have I heard that before? 10 AM. Giveaways and drink specials all day and night. They also have the magic words: Green Beer! Norfolk and Fairmont Avenues.

CESCO Osteria - The newest spot on the list, the Woodmont Avenue Italian restaurant and lounge in the Newlands Building adjacent to Metro, is saluting the Irish from 11 AM - 2 AM Saturday. Enjoy the these bar specials and Irish music: $5 pints of Guiness/Harp/Black and Tan, $5 Jameson shots, $5 Bailey's and cream, $7 Car Bombs, $5 select drafts including Fat Tire and Peroni, and $6 Svedka/Bacardi/Jose Cuervo/Johnny Walker Red/Jim Beam drinks. Select appetizers will be $6, also. CESCO is the only place offering you a Sunday morning recovery program: Bloody Marys and gourmet breakfast pizzas.

Well, lads and lassies, that concludes this ultimate 2012 Bethesda St. Patrick's Day list. Plan ahead, and you may be able to hit every place on the list. Each one offers something, so take advantage of everything.

Slan go foill! Go n-eiri do thuras leat!