Thursday, November 30, 2017

Earthquake rattles Bethesda

An earthquake 10km ENE of Dover, Delaware was felt here in Bethesda just before 5:00 PM this afternoon. The earthquake's magnitude has been estimated to have been between 4.1 and 5.06. At the moment, it is being termed a 4.1, after several revisions. The quake lasted about 6-10 seconds here in Bethesda, causing minor rattling of structures and objects.

A 2011 earthquake felt here lasted longer, and was significantly stronger. It was a 5.8 centered near Mineral, Virginia. Now, we can expect two aftershocks, based on my experience in the 2011 Virginia earthquake. Listen out, because they were missed by many in Bethesda that year.

All-day restaurant Julii to open at Pike & Rose, 930 Rose model unit opens this Saturday

More Phase II developments at Pike & Rose: Everyone who has visited Pinstripes or Rose Park has been wondering for months who the future tenant will be in that sleek, glass building on the edge of the park. The founders of the local Cava empire have answered that question. They will open an all-day restaurant called Julii, serving French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual atmosphere for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Julii's menu will include everything from croissants to shakshouka to roasted chicken. The restaurant will also have a coffee shop. “We selected Pike & Rose for many reasons, particularly the tenant mix of new, diverse brands – many exclusive to this community,” Ted Xenohristos, co-founder of CAVA, said in a statement yesterday. “With amenities from bowling to ramen to the great outdoors, Federal Realty is building something special at Pike & Rose and we want to be part of it."

The street address of Julii will be 11915 Grand Park Avenue. No target opening date has been announced.
930 Rose model unit
Less distant in the future at Pike & Rose will be the grand opening of the first model unit at the 930 Rose luxury condos, atop the future Canopy by Hilton hotel, this Saturday, December 2, from noon until 4:00 PM. Enjoy appetizers from neighboring restaurant Summer House while you tour the model and learn about the hotel amenities and services that will also be available to 930 Rose residents.

930 Rose is at the corner of Rose Avenue and Grand Park Avenue, across from L.L. Bean and Rose Park. Parking is available in the Trade Street Garage, directly behind the Canopy/930 Rose building.

New lights on Bethesda Avenue

You may have seen the scaffolding above Williams-Sonoma at Bethesda Row in recent weeks. The result of the work is improved exterior lighting on the second floor above Bethesda Avenue.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Little Falls watershed advocates press for changes to Westbard Self Storage project

Members of the Little Falls Watershed Alliance are calling for changes to the stormwater management, pedestrian pathway and aesthetic appearance of a proposed self storage project behind the McDonald's on River Road. They've outlined their criticisms and recommended changes in an email to Montgomery County planners. You can add your voice by sending an email to the property owner, and linking to the LFWA's summary, letting him know you support these changes as well. Advocates are concerned about the environmental and aesthetic impacts of the building on the Willett Branch stream, and on the future greenway park alongside it.
Willett Branch stream

Barre3 to open in Bethesda - free classes tonight & Dec. 6, 13

Step up to the barre - - the latest fitness studio entry with a "barre"-branded name will be Barre3. They're going to open in the ground floor of the Palisades apartments at 4835 Cordell Avenue in downtown Bethesda. But at 6:00 PM tonight (Wednesday, November 29) and December 6 and 13, you can try one of their classes for free in the Palisades' community room. No Barre3 experience is necessary.

Just bring a yoga mat and water bottle, and enter the Palisades' main entrance, stay to the right past the elevators, then turn left and follow the signs to the community room. Barre3 is described as "a killer 60 minute workout that will give you a deep muscle burn, heart rate spike and an endorphin high while also balancing your body and centering your mind."

When the actual Barre3 studio opens, they will have a Play Lounge where you can drop off your kids while you work out.

Leggett blows off Bethesda black cemetery advocates at NAACP meeting

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett pointedly ignored advocates for the historic Moses African Cemetery on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda at an NAACP meeting last night in Rockville. About seven community members holding signs referring to the cemetery waited to ask Leggett to take action to protect it, during a Q&A session following Leggett's remarks to a packed room. When it was time to take questions, Leggett's finger pointed to just about any other place in the room than toward those advocating for the cemetery.

Leggett certainly recognized most of the cemetery advocates, as some have sat in on negotiations between Macedonia Baptist Church and Leggett's office earlier this year. And they were holding signs referring to the cemetery. The County Executive took many questions on other topics, then abruptly departed the room.

Among those waiting to ask Leggett about the cemetery was Harvey Matthews, who was a resident of the lost black community along River Road until 1959, when his family was swindled out of their land - which now is home to a Whole Foods Market. The episode was indeed odd - advocates for a black cemetery, who have the stated support of the local NAACP chapter in their quest to save the graveyard from a plan to build a parking garage atop the graves, being pointedly snubbed by Leggett, the first African-American to serve as a County Councilmember and Executive in Montgomery County.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Water main break on Marengo Road last night

The WSSC responded to a water main break on Marengo Road in the Springfield neighborhood of Bethesda last night. Water could be seen running down the hill on Marengo between Newington Road and Cromwell Drive around 10:00 PM. While traffic could still get by on Cromwell, the work added to drivers' confusion, who were turning off Massachusetts Avenue due to a police-related road closure there at the same time.

Police investigation closed Massachusetts Ave. for 5 hours at Capital Crescent Trail bridge last night

Updated 9:35 AM: An email from Walt Whitman High School Prinicipal Alan Goodwin to parents is now beginning to circulate. It states that a Whitman student died last evening. Sources tell me it was related to the police investigation reported below, but police have not officially confirmed that yet.

Here is the text of the email; however, I am redacting the name of the student - and identifying details - for now out of respect for her, and her family:

Dear Whitman Community, 

A Whitman student unexpectedly died last night, and our school is in mourning. [xxxxxx] was a [xx]th grader, a member of the [xxxxx] and next year she was going to be a leader of our [xxxxx] Club. We have numerous upset staff and students. Our counselors are meeting with students and staff, and MCPS has sent additional counselors and psychologists to help. Nothing saddens me more than the loss of a child. I will share any information I learn from the family regarding arrangements as they become available. Please keep [xxxx] and her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. 


Alan Goodwin

I will update this story when it is appropriate to provide identifying information. I thank the commenter below for being one of the people to share the email with me. I will hide that comment for now, again, out of respect for the student and her family. The cause of death has not been officially identified yet.

Massachusetts Avenue remained closed in Bethesda between Westbard Avenue and Little Falls Parkway for about five hours last night, as Montgomery County police conducted what appeared to be a death investigation in the roadway. Officers were called to the scene for a report of a pedestrian being struck by a car near the Capital Crescent Trail bridge around 8:15 PM last night.

A substantial number of police cruisers remained on the scene for the rest of the evening, blocking the road as officers detoured traffic. A diagonal line of cones directed drivers onto Westbard from Massachusetts.The road reopened around 1:00 AM this morning.

Police have not released any information to the public regarding the case as of press time. Three sources tell me officers were investigating a death.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Collision has Sangamore Rd. down to one lane at Walhonding Rd. in Bethesda

A collision has seriously damaged two vehicles, and reduced Sangamore Road to a single lane near Walhonding Road in Bethesda. Two vehicles collided at that intersection around 9:00 AM. A Mercedes Benz suffered major front-end damage, and a Toyota Highlander needs to be towed away with a broken axle, according to a police officer at the scene. Avoid the area by taking Fort Sumner Drive, or Goldsboro Road to MacArthur Boulevard, among many other options.

Cemetery advocates to press Leggett at NAACP meeting

Advocates for the historic African-American cemetery on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda will press Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to take several actions to preserve it, when he appears before the County's NAACP chapter Tuesday night, November 28 at 7:00 PM, at the Carver Education Center, located at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Organizers stress they will not attempt to disrupt the meeting in any way, but hope to turn out as many cemetery supporters as possible to ask questions during the question-and-answer session following Leggett's remarks.

Led by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) - Montgomery County, organizers hope to ask Leggett to:

  • intervene on behalf of Macedonia Baptist Church to ensure access to the HOC property where the cemetery is (since HOC has indicated that we can proceed with the delineation 
  • If the County will pay for the cemetery delineation study, as he offered in Feb 2017
  • If Macedonia Baptist Church will be allowed to choose the archaeological team to conduct the cemetery delineation study
  • If the County will purchase that land and make it a designated historic park with a living memorial
  • If the County will support a museum devoted to local African American history

Where the money went

Chico's, the latest victim of the
exodus of the ultra-rich from
Montgomery County to
nearby jurisdictions
The boutiques along what used to be called "Montgomery County's Rodeo Drive" in Chevy Chase continue to close, as the wealthy flee to lower-tax jurisdictions in our area. While Montgomery County has entirely dropped off of the Forbes Richest Counties in America top ten list, our rival Loudoun County continues to not only prosper, but remain number one on the list. Yesterday's Washington Post gave us a tour along the gilded streets of Loudoun's elite town of Middleburg.

While the article by Thomas Heath notes that some small businesses that need heavy foot traffic have closed in the small town of 780 people, and retail stores nationwide are struggling against online shopping, it reports the owner of high-end Highcliffe Clothiers in Middleburg "is wrapping up his best year ever." Heath gives the lay of land in Loudoun's "bastion of wealth and aristocracy," with its Foxcroft "elite boarding school for girls," and renowned "fox hunting, private airstrips, and smattering of aristocracy with names such as Mellon, Birdseye, DuPont, Mars and Firestone."

Estimating that Highcliffe's owner, Mark Metzger, takes in $1 million in sales per year, Heath describes the kind of recession-proof spending power that kept those Chevy Chase shops humming along for decades - - until the Montgomery County Council brought it all crashing down, and the ultra-rich headed for the exits. "They are the under-the-radar rich folks who own homes in the countryside. They think nothing of dropping $1000 at Metzger's shop. For that crowd, he stocks his inventory with high-end goods from the United States and from England and Spain."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chico's closes in Chevy Chase (Photos)

The retail exodus from what used to be called "Montgomery County's Rodeo Drive" continues, as the County has now plummeted out of the Forbes Richest Counties Top Ten List into irrelevance. Chico's is the latest victim of wealthy residents fleeing the County, having now closed its doors at 5418 Wisconsin Avenue.
The Chico's building architecture was
designed to fit in with the
grand department stores like
Woodward & Lothrop (now demolished)
that once surrounded it
The exodus of wealthy residents to nearby jurisdictions like Frederick, Howard, Loudoun and Fairfax, combined with the moribund County economy, has reduced tax revenues even as Montgomery has raised taxes to a record high. That's made the County Council's structural deficit even harder to overcome in the years ahead.
Chico's in more--gilded
times in Montgomery County
Charitable giving has taken a hit at the same time. Fewer MoCo residents can afford to donate, and the few tycoons who remain apparently aren't as generous as those who've relocated to the other side of the river. In 30 days, "wealthy" Montgomery County residents could only come up with $600,000 for the 125 survivors of the Flower Branch apartments explosion who lost everything (a whopping $4800 per homeless victim - "Tell them what they've won, Rod Roddy!" "A shopping spree at Goodwill!!!!!")

Still on the Forbes Top Ten: Arlington County at #8, Howard County at #4, Fairfax County at #3, the independent City of Falls Church at #2 and...drum roll, please...Loudoun County at #1. And, with the steep decline in Montgomery County Public Schools since 2010, all of those jurisdictions' school systems are now at least as good as ours, if not better.

Wow, we are in real trouble, folks.

Sign installed at new Bethesda Row lululemon location

The sign is up at the future home of lululemon at Bethesda Row. Most recently home to Read Wall, the high-turnover space hopes for better stability with the popular yoga pants headquarters moving in. The current lululemon location remains open for business until the move, but the new sign at 4838 Bethesda Avenue was lit last night.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Construction underway at new Ethiopian restaurant in Bethesda

Construction has begun inside the future Ethiopian restaurant taking over the Grapeseed space at 4865 Cordell Avenue. I noticed that restaurant's name is listed differently on its liquor license application, which refers to it as Dinqnesh Ethiopian, instead of Lucy. Both names refer to the 3.5 million-year-old fossil Lucy, a female hominin found in Hadar in the 1970s.

The name change may be to distinguish this location from the owners' original Silver Spring restaurant, also called Lucy. Workers were going in and out of the Cordell Avenue space yesterday evening. An employee reached by phone at their Silver Spring location said no official opening date has been announced, but that they are tentatively hoping to open in January.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday closer to home in Bethesda

GAP at Pike & Rose
Don't want to brave the crowds and parking spot search at the mall today? Black Friday savings can be found closer to home in Bethesda's urban centers and suburban strip malls. Many businesses at Bethesda Row will be offering doorbusters when they open this morning, as well as Black Friday discounts.

GAP at Pike & Rose has slashed the price of everything in the store by 50% today, and H&M on the next block will have savings of as much as 70% on some items, and 20% off all items. AMP by Strathmore will be slashing ticket prices on almost every future concert by $10 today at Pike & Rose; you can order tickets online with promo code "BlackFriday." Neighbor Owen's Ordinary is offering $20 off tickets to their annual New Year's Eve Steampunk Soiree, this weekend only.
Anglo Dutch Pools & Toys at the
Westwood Shopping Center
Support local small businesses like Anglo Dutch Pools & Toys in the Westwood Shopping Center at 5460 Westbard Avenue, where everything is 20% off today. Like GAP and H&M, you can also shop online at Anglo Dutch, and avoid going out altogether.

Shanghai Bao Kitchen closes at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photo)

Here's a surprising and disappointing closure to report from the Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Shanghai Bao Kitchen has closed, only a couple of weeks after next-door neighbor Shilla Bakery opened. A blank wall has been erected in front of their space. Shanghai Bao Kitchen had a solid 4-star rating on Yelp, and had been reviewed favorably since it opened exactly two years ago.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Westfield Montgomery Mall primed for Black Friday in Bethesda (Photos)

Elves have literally been working through the night at Westfield Montgomery Mall, installing even more holiday decorations for Black Friday - which begins on Thanksgiving these days. This year, you can even make a reservation to meet Santa Claus instead of waiting in line, just like Macy's in New York City. The mall will be open from 6:00 PM to midnight tonight (grab a turkey leg on your way from the dinner table to the mall), and 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM on Black Friday.

Here's an exclusive shot from the Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Elf Cam:
Elves began working after the mall
closed last night, including installing
decorations in the high ceiling above
the Dining Terrace here, using
hydraulic lifts

Bethesda restaurants open Thanksgiving 2017 (Video + Photos + Menus)

Did you wake up this morning and realize you have no Thanksgiving dinner plans? Not to worry, the annual Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row guide to Bethesda restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day is here.

Things change and seats fill up - for example, Founding Farmers seems to have focused on carry-out dinners this year, and La Ferme reports it is all booked up. That's why I strongly recommend:

Make sure to call ahead to reserve your seat, and ensure there are still reservations available for the time you plan to dine. I can't guarantee every restaurant on this list will still have seats to accommodate you, but I can guarantee that you will find a reservation available by the time you reach the bottom of this list.


Positano has been a fixture in downtown Bethesda since 1977, and is open every day of the year. While known for its Italian menu, you can also get a traditional Thanksgiving day feast with turkey (white or dark meat), mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, string beans, cranberry sauce and Italian bread at this spacious restaurant on Fairmont Avenue for $28. Pumpkin and apple pie, as well as several flavors of ice cream, are available to round out the meal. They'll be open from noon until 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving, their regular Italian menu will be available, and they have gluten-free options, as well.

4948-4940 Fairmont Avenue
Dessert options on the
Thanksgiving menu at
Del Frisco's Grille
Del Frisco's Grille

Enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Pike & Rose with sliced roast turkey, sage apple sausage stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Starter options are a butternut squash soup with rye croutons, deviled eggs and a holiday salad with mixed greens, dried cranberries, goat cheese and candied pecans. Dessert choices include pumpkin cheesecake, Nutella bread pudding, Molten Chocolate Cake, and Salted Caramel Pudding Jar. $39 ($15 for kids). Regular menu available. Open 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Thanksgiving this year.

WATCH: Video review of Thanksgiving 2015 at Del Frisco's Grille

11800 Grand Park Avenue
(301) 881-0308
Dine with an aerial view of
the holiday lights of
Pike & Rose at City Perch
this Thanksgiving
City Perch

City Perch is switching to a buffet this year for Thanksgiving. For $58 ($48 for members), you can choose from options like slow-roasted turkey, house-cured honey-baked ham, and dry-aged prime rib. Finish your meal with renowned pastry chef Sherry Yard's 3-layer Silken Pumpkin Pie.

11830 Grand Park Avenue

Clyde's of Chevy Chase

The Clyde's Thanksgiving dinner tradition continues at the Collection at Chevy Chase.

5441 Wisconsin Avenue
(301) 951-9600

The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille in Chevy Chase will offer their Executive Chef's take on Thanksgiving favorites, as well as their regular menu.

5310 Western Avenue
(301) 718-7812

Le Vieux Logis

Yes, the revamped restaurant in downtown Bethesda raved about in the Washington Post is in the Thankgiving sweepstakes for the third year in a row, and the menu can be as American or French as you want.

7925 Old Georgetown Road
(301) 652-6816


Chef Geoff Tracy's Lia's in Friendship Heights will be serving their traditional Thanksgiving menu from 1:00 to 7:00 PM today.

4435 Willard Avenue


A long-standing fixture on my list, Maggiano's will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal family-style.

Chevy Chase Pavilion
5333 Wisconsin Ave NW
(202) 966-5500


A veritable Thanksgiving tradition, atop the Bethesda Metro station.

7400 Wisconsin Avenue
(301) 657-2650

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

The Irish Inn will be serving dinner from 12:00-7:00 PM, $40 per adult, and $20 per child under 10. A wide variety of starters are available on the Thanksgiving menu, which ranges from the traditional to the Indian-inspired.

6119 Tulane Avenue
(301) 229-6600

Ruth's Chris Steak House

The Thanksgiving restaurant meal that can start with a Louisiana seafood gumbo, if you wish. Another Thanksgiving tradition in downtown Bethesda. Check out the menu here.

7315 Wisconsin Avenue
(301) 652-7877

Seasons 52

This health-conscious restaurant at North Bethesda Market is entering the Thanksgiving lineup for the first time. So you'll find a Pumpkin Pie Mini Indulgence on the menu. Open until 8:00 PM tonight.

11414 Rockville Pike
(301) 984-5252

Happy Thanksgiving
Robert Dyer
Bethesda Row!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New Bethesda high-rise would replace 7-Eleven and EagleBank building in Woodmont Triangle

Another high-rise is being proposed for Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda, this time on the sites currently home to 7-Eleven and EagleBank at Wisconsin and Fairmont Avenue. The properties in question are 7820 Wisconsin and 7815 Woodmont Avenue.

This is certainly the right place for a high-density, mixed-use development near Metro. However, unless the developer brings back 7-Eleven on the ground floor of the new building, it's likely to face opposition from Woodmont Triangle residents on that count alone. This is widely recognized as the best 7-Eleven in the area, and it would be quite a loss if the owner can't come back, or find a nearby location to relocate to.

A public meeting on the project is scheduled to be held on December 6, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the cafeteria at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School at 4301 East-West Highway.

Bowlmor Lanes to make interior changes

Bowlmor Lanes on Westbard Avenue will be updating their interior. The popular bowling alley bar & grill will spend $120,000 to make alterations for an arcade, according to a construction permit requested from Montgomery County.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pike & Rose lights up for the holidays, as Porsche Bethesda prepares to open (Photos)

This is the first holiday season at Pike & Rose since the development's Phase II section opened earlier this year, so the lights and decorations are spread out over several blocks, rather than the one dead-end street of previous years. The Christmas tree is close to where it has been previously, just no longer in the roadway stub of Grand Park Avenue. A menorah is in the new Rose Park, near the just-opened L.L. Bean store. Porsche Bethesda is about to become the newest business at the Federal Realty development, having set an opening date of December 4. Will you have a 911 Turbo S under the tree this year?

Bethesda Row Giant wants your opinion

The Giant store at Bethesda Row is surveying customers electronically at the check-out right now. A touch screen above the credit card reader is asking customers to answer 3 questions about their experience at the grocery store. Sample question: "How would you rate the selection of prepared foods at this store?" In recent years, the grocery chain has deployed simpler, one-question polls and surveys in various departments of their stores. This is the most-sophisticated campaign yet.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bethesda construction update: Bethesda Porsche at Pike & Rose (Photos)

The new Bethesda Porsche dealership building is turning heads on Rockville Pike. Nearing the finish line at Pike & Rose, the new building will house Rockville Porsche, which will move down the Pike and get a name change with even more cache. The curved, modern lines of the building stand out from the typical boxy car dealership you find along the Pike. It does look like a building you might find in the former West Germany, very appropriately. At night, you can get the full effect of the lighting.