Thursday, December 31, 2020

"Bring your blankets" as Bethesda restaurants soldier on after court denies relief from indoor dining ban

"Bring your blankets," Brickside Food & Drink advises on-site diners who can eat al fresco on their heated terrace at 4866 Cordell Avenue in downtown Bethesda. It's the latest sign of changes restaurants are making to survive what may be the harshest winter yet in an already-hostile-to-business jurisdiction, where indoor dining has been banned by the government. 

Tent atop Tommy Joe's roof at
Cordell and Norfolk Avenues

Tommy Joe's - which has the advantage of a fairly spacious rooftop - has a tent up there now, as Caddies has for some time around the corner. Pines of Rome, one of Bethesda's longest-running restaurants, announced it will now be open every day of the week; it previously would be closed on Tuesdays. Pines will also be open today and on New Year's Day.

Shadows of diners can be
seen inside the tent atop
Tommy Joe's

Intrepid diners are being invited into the newest tent Bethesda Urban Partnership erected in Veterans Park. The Bethesda UP tents, unlike those operated by individual restaurants, are self-serve as diners carry their takeout orders and seat themselves. Health authorities have not definitely stated what the level of risk in outdoor tent enclosures is versus indoor dining, but have said that at least one flap of the tent should be raised. Bethesda UP has said it is opening two flaps on its tents.

This all comes after restaurateurs who challenged the Montgomery County government's ban on indoor dining in court were rebuffed by the Circuit Court judge, even as Anne Arundel County's ban was rejected by a judge who once served as a Republican on the Anne Arundel County Council. That decision has so far not been accepted as precedent by his peers in Montgomery, Prince George's County or Baltimore City.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bethesda construction update: The Wilson/The Elm (Video+Photos)

Let's check in at the construction site of Carr Properties' 7272 Wisconsin Avenue development, featuring The Wilson office tower and The Elm residential tower. The Elm is now offering hard hat tours for prospective residents. Meanwhile, out front at The Wilson, you can see the bump-out jewel box lobby entrance on Wisconsin. 

The Wilson is now fully-leased before it has even opened, in spite of Montgomery County's continuing inability to attract a single major corporate headquarters in a quarter-century. Anchor tenant here will be TV station Fox 5.

Car stolen in Chevy Chase

A car was reported stolen in Chevy Chase yesterday morning. The vehicle was taken from the driveway of a home in the 6800 block of Connecticut Avenue, just north of Bradley Lane. Crime data indicates property was also stolen from another vehicle parked at a home in the same block. It is believed the car was stolen sometime between 7:00 PM Monday night and 7:00 AM Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Charles Schwartz & Son moving in Chevy Chase

Charles Schwartz & Son
is following the path of past neighbor Pampillonia in relocating from inside Mazza Gallerie to a nearby traditional storefront. However, Charles Schwartz will be staying within Friendship Heights rather than going to Bethesda Row. The jeweler is moving to the ground floor of the Barlow Building at 5454 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase. Their new space was previously home to TTR Sotheby's International Realty.

Armed robbery at Glen Echo convenience store as police investigate another at a Bethesda 7-Eleven

Even as Montgomery County police detectives investigate the armed robbery of the 7-Eleven at 5114 River Road that took place on December 19, a nearby convenience store in Glen Echo has fallen victim to the same crime. Police have not identified the latest target of armed robbers by name, but the business is described as a convenience store in the 7300 block of MacArthur Boulevard in Montgomery County crime data. That store was held up last night around 8:30 PM. There is a 7-Eleven on that block of MacArthur.

Police have released surveillance camera images of the suspect in the robbery of the River Road 7-Eleven. Detectives believe he escaped in a Chevrolet sedan, but have not yet given a description of the model, year or color of that car.

Anyone with information about the suspect or this armed robbery is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.  Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Solvers by phone: 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), online, or via the Crime Solvers app. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Somerset Mayor inducted into Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame

Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin was inducted into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame yesterday. The seven-term mayor has served on the District of Columbia's Human Rights Commission, the Women's Campaign Fund Board of Directors, the national LGBTQ Task Force Board of Directors, the Maryland Municipal League Board of Directors, the Maryland Mayors Association, and the MML's Montgomery County chapter.

Slavin was the first openly LGBTQ elected official to serve in Somerset, and as Vice-Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. He is currently a member of the Maryland Black Mayors Association, the Montgomery County NAACP, and the National Council of Negro Women.

In recent years, Slavin made news when he resigned from his lifelong membership at the Woodmont Country Club, after some members of the club suggested they would not welcome President Barack Obama as a member because they opposed his policies on Israel. Slavin was also one of very, very few local elected officials to publicly support advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda.

Six people in total were inducted into the Hall yesterday. The others were former Montgomery County Councilmember Bruce Adams, first woman president of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Association Marcine Goodloe, Montgomery County Chief of Police Marcus Jones, biomedical scientist and nationally-prominent Asian-American activist Dr. Michael Lin, and former Montgomery County Chief of Police Darryl McSwain, who now leads the Maryland National Capital Park Police Montgomery County Division.

Francesca's closing at Bethesda Row

is closing at 4844 Bethesda Avenue at Bethesda Row. The store is the latest area Francesca's location to fall victim to the fashion chain's bankruptcy filing. Their Pike & Rose store closed last year. A total of more than 200 store closures are anticipated by January 31, 2021, the company says.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Blue Christmas at Avocet Tower in downtown Bethesda

It's been a blue Christmas at StonebridgeCarras' Avocet Tower, now under construction at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The rising office-hotel tower has been illuminated in blue light on recent evenings.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Downtown Bethesda Christmas decorations (Photos)

We've looked a few times this year at the Christmas decorations and lights around the Bethesda Row area. Now let's take a look at some of the Woodmont Triangle's festive displays for 2020.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Another block of Norfolk Avenue shut down for outdoor dining

An additional block of Norfolk Avenue was closed to vehicular traffic for outdoor dining yesterday in downtown Bethesda. The expansion is likely more about providing tents closer to a greater number of restaurants than responding to increased demand. Usage of the existing tents has been sparse so far. The new closure of Norfolk is between Cordell and Del Ray Avenues.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ssong's Hot Dog opening today at Montgomery Mall

Ssong's Hot Dog
 is ready to make its eagerly-awaited debut at Westfield Montgomery Mall. Their newest location in the mall's Dining Terrace food court will open today, December 24, 2020. Ssong's Hot Dog features Korean-style hot dogs with a variety of toppings you can choose, served on skewers like a corn dog. There are also seafood, potato and rice options, as well as their Tornado Fries.

Montgomery County judge won't end indoor dining ban

Parker Lewis can't lose. And neither can Montgomery County government in a Maryland courtroom, it can often seem. The recent decision by a judge in Anne Arundel County overturning that jurisdiction's ban on indoor and outdoor dining set up an excellent measuring stick for the Montgomery County decision that came last night in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Judge James Bonifant declined to grant an injunction against Montgomery County's ban on indoor dining. Another hearing on the matter will be held after the Christmas holiday. Similar efforts to overturn bans were also rejected in Baltimore City and Prince George's County on Wednesday. 

Purse snatching at Bethesda grocery store

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a purse snatching at a grocery store in downtown Bethesda on Tuesday afternoon. The incident took place at a supermarket in the 7100 block of Arlington Road around 4:58 PM. Giant is the only store fitting that description on that block.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Strong-arm rape reported in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm rape in Bethesda Monday night. The assault was reported in a "park" in the 9600 block of Montgomery Drive around 8:00 PM. Crime data does not specify the park being referred to, but the Bethesda Trolley Trail runs along that street.

Mimosa Salon opens in Bethesda

Mimosa Salon
, a nail salon and spa, is now open at 8227 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, above The Shop Salon. Services offered include manicures, pedicures, coloring, dipping powder, and hand, foot or body massage. Waxing services for arms, legs and face are also available.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Armed robbery at Bethesda convenience store

Montgomery County police were called to the scene of a reported armed robbery at a Bethesda convenience store early Saturday morning. The robbery was reported at a store in the 5100 block of River Road around 6:00 AM.