Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Hope Floats leases Wisconsin Avenue space in Bethesda

Hope Floats
has leased a storefront at 7625 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The flotation therapy spa's current location is nearby at 4709 Chase Avenue. You can see a full list of therapy services provided on the Hope Floats website.

Shouk "coming soon" to Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda

has posted coming-soon signage at its future space at 5436 Westbard Avenue, in the Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda. The globally-inspired, plant-based street food chain is also opening a Rockville location at 5568 Randolph Road, in the Montrose Shopping Center. Both locations are expected to open this fall.

Shouk's future Rockville location

The Bethesda location will initially be carry-out only, as it is moving into the small China Cafe space. At a later date in the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Center, it will move to a larger, newly-constructed space in the new Westbard Square development that recently began construction. The Rockville location will be full-service with indoor dining.

Shouk Burger

Shouk's most famous menu item is the Shouk Burger, a veggie burger that has won several awards. Celebrity chef Carla Hall called it "the best dang burger I've ever tasted," and "mind-blowing" on the Food Network. Pita bread sandwiches, bowls, hummus and salads round out the menu.

Vacant former China Cafe space

Both the Rockville and Bethesda locations will be constructed of reclaimed materials, and will be 100% wind-powered. Shouk uses renewable packaging from plant sources, such as wooden utensils and biodegradable materials.

One piece of interesting trivia: Shouk's arrival will give the Westwood Shopping Center two eateries in its 62-year history that served dishes named "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network. Mo Rocca chose former tenant Farrell's' Gibson Girl Sundae as the best thing he ever ate. Rocca originally ate the sundae at the Westwood Shopping Center Farrell's location in the 1970s.

Monday, August 30, 2021

New Bethesda Starbucks opening delayed

The newest Starbucks in downtown Bethesda at 7200 Wisconsin Avenue missed its August 20 opening date, and still has not opened as of this writing. Everything looks the same inside as it did a couple of weeks ago. When it does open, it will replace the current store across Bethesda Avenue. That one is being demolished to make way for a new apartment tower.

McDonald's adds Glazed Pull-Apart Donut to menu in Bethesda

has added a new item to its McCafe line of baked goods designed to go with coffee beverages. The Glazed Pull-Apart Donut is shareable, with donut holes attached to the center that can be torn off. McDonald's says it is a limited-time item, and will be available all day, not just for breakfast. 

The new donut has already appeared at some McDonald's locations in Montgomery County, and will be available at all McDonald's nationwide on September 1, 2021. How does it compare to Krispy Kreme? Watch my review to find out.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Moh Moh Licious opens in Bethesda

Moh Moh Licious
has expanded to Bethesda. The Nepalese restaurant known for its dumplings at 7414 Georgia Avenue NW in the District has opened a new restaurant at 4925 Bethesda Avenue. An employee says the Bethesda location is takeout-only for now, with no indoor dining. The menu is the same as the D.C. location.

Hair Cuttery has reopened at Bethesda Row

The Hair Cuttery at 4818 Bethesda Avenue has reopened for business. A burst pipe forced the salon to temporarily close last Thursday. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Historic Potomac restaurant space available for lease

10710 Falls Road,
currently home to Normandie Farm restaurant, is being marketed for lease by Rappaport Co. Normandie Farm is still operating and open for business. But its historic 10,426 square foot building is available for lease as restaurant or retail space.

The online listing notes that 19,231 vehicles pass by the property on Falls Road each day, and the affluent surroundings. Normandie Farm has been in operation since 1931.

Photos courtesy Rappaport Co.

Bethesda Row Hair Cuttery update

I have an update on the temporary closure of the Hair Cuttery at Bethesda Row. I'm told there was a pipe burst at the rear of the salon, and repairs and cleanup needed as a result. They will be reopening soon.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Marriott HQ tower signage installation complete (Photos)

The latest signage addition to Marriott International's future headquarters at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda is now complete. A final piece has been added to the north-facing tower logo sign. Marriott employees are expected to relocate down here from the existing North Bethesda Marriott HQ in 2022.

Little Sesame opening Bethesda Row location

D.C.-based Little Sesame is expanding to the suburbs at Bethesda Row. The fast-casual hummus restaurant serving portions ranging from bowls to rotisserie meals will be at 7118 Bethesda Lane, the company announced in a press release Thursday. Little Sesame is expected to open before the end of 2021.

Rendering courtesy Little Sesame

Amazon Fresh opens in Chevy Chase (Video+Photos)

Amazon opened its first Amazon Fresh grocery store in Montgomery County yesterday, at the Collection at Chevy Chase in Friendship Heights. Shoppers passed under high-school prom balloon arches, and auto dealership-style stringed pennants flapped in the breeze outside. But the big question on everyone's mind after months of glazed-over windows was, "What's inside?"

Love Amazon tech or hate it, the gang's all here - the Amazon app, Prime, Alexa, and Amazon Lockers (for same-day pickup for Prime members). So are some of the Amazon house brands that are increasingly populating their flagship website and their Whole Foods grocery stores, like Happy Belly, Presto!, Aplenty, and Amazon Kitchen. Their house brands are a notch above the private label merchandise at standard grocery stores. For example, I've found their Presto! paper towels to be pretty close to Bounty in quality, and better than Brawny, which was previously Bounty's closest competitor in strength and absorption.

There are fresh-looking salads and appetizing pizzas available by the slice, as well as a hot bar. Pricing is lower than Jeff Bezos' Whole Foods, which is very appropriate with the recent downscaling of once-opulent Friendship Heights. 

While the flight of the rich to lower-tax jurisdictions - and the high-end buying power they took with them - tanked the luxe retail economy of this strip once touted as "Montgomery County's Rodeo Drive," leaving empty storefronts "aplenty," Bezos is coming to the rescue with $0.15 cent bananas; $0.89 cent freshly-baked bread; $1.79 freshly-baked pizza slices; and $4.97 rotisserie chickens. Deals the spacefaring billionaire was offering on opening day included $2.69 for a 12-pack of Coca-Cola, buy-one-get-one-free Lay’s chips (7.5-8 oz.), and 50% off all Aplenty products.

The interior design of the store is minimalist and contemporary, with all of the exposed ventilation ducts, pipes and industrial surfaces you could ask for. Flooring is nicer than the plain concrete you might expect. Overall, the design puts your full attention on the merchandise. To Amazon's credit, it also realized the store was in Friendship Heights and not "Chevy Chase Village," in time for the fabrication of the in-store signage.

Dash Cart is the new Amazon tech feature most prominent in the store. While the function of it is impressive and sure to be copied by other chains, it isn't quite right for everyone. I had imagined it as being a large grocery cart like any other, but scanning any items I would put into it for a roll-through checkout upon leaving. Instead, it holds only two bags, meaning it is geared more toward the urban couple, or someone who wants to maximize their exposure to the Delta variant by shopping every day instead of once a week.

Surprisingly, there isn't a traditional self-checkout machine area. So if you are buying more than two bags with Dash Cart, you will have to get in line at a traditional cashier checkout.

One other drawback? The inventory and selection are less than you would find at Wegmans, Giant, or Safeway. A 10:00 PM closing time is also not competitive with stores like Giant that stay open until midnight. Amazon Fresh opens at 7:00 AM daily.

Amazon celebrated yesterday's opening with giveaways, and they have also promised to donate surplus food to local food banks. “We’re excited to introduce Amazon Fresh to the Chevy Chase community today," the store's manager Amy Denner said. "As we open our doors, customers will discover a unique checkout-free shopping experience with our Amazon Dash Cart, which offers the ultimate convenience when shopping for low-priced, high-quality foods. I’m looking forward to the positive impact this new store will have on the local area, which starts with the hundreds of good jobs we’ve created for the community.”

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Hair Cuttery temporarily closed at Bethesda Row

Hair Cuttery at 4818 Bethesda Avenue was unexpectedly temporarily closed today. A sign in the window directed clientele to locations in North Bethesda, Kensington and Rockville. No explanation for the closure, nor a reopening date - tomorrow or otherwise, was given. I recommend calling ahead if you have an appointment or plan to walk-in Friday.

Police release suspect description in armed robbery of Bethesda gas station

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating a suspect in the August 16, 2021 armed robbery of a gas station in the 5100 block of River Road. Detectives say the male suspect entered the gas station brandishing a firearm. He allegedly pointed it at the cashier, and ordered the cash register drawer and a separate lockbox to be opened. Taking cash from both, the suspect then fled.

The victim described the suspect as a dark-skinned black male, thin build, 6' tall, weighing approximately 150 lbs., in his 20s, and wearing a black bandana, a black t-shirt and black pants at the time of the robbery.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this crime is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or submit a Crime Solvers tip online or via the app. Crime Solvers may pay a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

It's PSL season at McDonald's, too

Starbucks has had no shortage of competition in the pumpkin spice latte field in recent years. Dunkin' Donuts got a head start for 2021, releasing theirs ahead of the OG Starbucks. Yesterday, McDonald's at 5214 River Road in Bethesda began offering its hot and cold pumpkin spice lattes, the same day as Starbucks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Sneak peek: Sports & Social at Pike & Rose (Photos)

Here's a look at the latest additions to the interior of the future Sports & Social at Pike & Rose, opening September 9, 2021. Yesterday, sports-themed artwork was installed on the walls. You can also see the bar area and gaming tables.