Friday, May 30, 2014


Doritos has 3 new mystery flavors, and I decided to try Test Flavor 855 first because it has blue cheese listed on the ingredients. 855 also has cayenne pepper, cheddar cheese, buttermilk, paprika... Can I guess what it is? And how good is it? Watch my review and find out!

Thursday, May 29, 2014


A transportation forum featuring candidates for the Montgomery County Council will be held tonight (May 29), at 7:00 PM, at the Silver Spring Civic Building (there is public garage parking directly across Ellsworth Drive from the building).

The topics covered are inspected to include transit, the Purple Line, the county's proposed Bus Rapid Transit system, and the M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended. Obviously, the BRT system proposal directly affects Rockville, and the Rockville Pike Plan outcome.

Martin Di Caro of WAMU FM will be the moderator. The debate is sponsored by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Purple Line Now, Action Committee for Transit, Montgomery County Sierra Club, Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and the TAME Coalition.

Silver Spring Civic Building
1 Veterans Place

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


All candidates for the Montgomery County Council At-Large will participate in a candidate forum, sponsored by the Aspen Hill Civic Association, at the Aspen Hill Library tonight (May 28) at 7:30 PM. The event is convenient to the Wheaton, Glenmont, Rockville and Olney areas, for those wanting to learn more about the candidates for the 4 countywide seats on the council.

Aspen Hill Library
4407 Aspen Hill Road

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Rockville on May 23-25, according to crime data:

May 23

Assault. 400 block Elmcroft Boulevard.

Theft. 1 block Gude Drive.

Assault. 500 block Pinewood Road.

Assault. 1 block Maryland Avenue.

Stolen car. 1000 block Copperstone Court.

Theft. 5700 block Crawford Drive.

May 24

Stolen car. 100 block Moore Drive.

Assault. 100 block Gibbs Street.

May 25

Assault. 1400 block Rockville Pike.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Active duty members/veterans of the U.S. military - and their spouses - can get 10 of Hooters' famous wings FREE today, with any drink purchase. The offer is good only for dine-in customers, and you may have to show your military I.D. for this Memorial Day special.

Hooters of Rockville
1584 Rockville Pike

Friday, May 23, 2014


Here's a roundup of crimes reported between May 20-21 across Rockville, according to crime data:

May 20

Assault. 800 block Hungerford Drive.

Theft. 500 block King Farm Boulevard.

Vehicle theft. 2000 block Gaither Road.

Vehicle theft. 200 block Poplar Spring Road (King Farm area).

Sexual assault. 7300 block Calhoun Place.

Vehicle theft. 300 block Frederick Avenue.

Vehicle theft. 400 block Hungerford Drive.

Theft. 200 block N. Stonestreet Avenue.

Theft. 1500 block Rockville Pike.

May 21

Assault. 1 block Maryland Avenue.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The Kettler mixed-use project that will be constructed on the former site of the demolished Suburban Trust Building (a.k.a. the Pink Bank) will be about 7-stories tall, with ground floor retail and restaurants. These renderings show what it will look like from different vantage points around the property. The architecture appears to reference some design elements of the adjacent Rockville Town Square development, but is hardly as unique as the New Formalist building it replaces.

Images courtesy Kettler/City of Rockville
All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


JBG's attorney, Bob Harris, and Senior Development Analyst Devon Lauer returned to City Hall Monday night, to brief the Rockville Mayor and Council on changes the developer seeks for its 5 Choke Cherry Road project in the Upper Rock District.

There are no real points of contention with the project at this point, although Harris again indicated that JBG will return with greater detail at future meetings. Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr asked about the bicycle plan and stormwater management for the site. Neither Harris nor Lauer were familiar enough with the bike issues at the site to comment, but said they would have that information at the next meeting. City staff said that the project, while having been approved long ago, would be built under current Rockville stormwater requirements.

Councilmember Tom Moore asked if the green space once designated as an office building could be developed as residential in the future, "[i]f the residential market picked up at some point?" Harris said he did not foresee any changes to the current proposal in the future. In a previous presentation before the Rockville Planning Commission, Harris said residential development was not sustainable, given the proximity of Crown Farm and other projects under construction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


What better beverage to test out during the NBA Playoffs than the limited-edition LeBron James Sprite? Watch my video review. This soft drink adds cherry and orange flavors to Sprite's trademark lemon-lime. Is this the "King" of soft drinks? These are the questions to ponder when your team (Washington Bullets) has already been bounced from the playoffs.

Monday, May 19, 2014


A major tenant in Pike Center on Rockville Pike in south Rockville, Catherine's Plus Sizes, is going to close. A closing sale is underway at the store. Another storefront is currently vacant. Pike Center had been sought as a location by Walmart, but the big box chain was rebuffed by the Montgomery County Council, and the developer withdrew the proposed plan. Savings are posted as being up to 40% off during the closing sale.

Friday, May 16, 2014


More evidence of Montgomery County's abysmal office market was on display at this week's Rockville Planning Commission meeting. Developer JBG is requesting an amendment to its Pre-Development Plan for 5 Choke Cherry Road, in the Upper Rock District off Shady Grove Road.

When the plan was approved on May 23, 2005, it included 293 residential units, retail and restaurant space, a community park, and 73,700 square feet of office space, with a surface parking lot.

Devon Lauer, Senior Development Analyst for JBG, said the company wants to replace the 73,700 SF office space component with 35,000 SF of retail and restaurant space. This would be arranged in four, single-story structures, with surface parking serving all four. Potential tenants under discussion include CVS and MOM's Organic Market.

The applicant's attorney, Bob Harris of Lerch, Early & Brewer, said the change is needed due to the poor office market. Residential would not work either, Harris said, due to “the evolution of the residential marketplace in this area,”  noting that such units would have to compete with Crown Farm, the Reed Brothers project, and others on the east side of MD 355, around the Shady Grove Metro. That "softness in the office market” is being felt by existing office building owners near the Upper Rock District. JBG believes that adding retail and restaurant amenities will help it attract new tenants to its existing office space in Upper Rock, as well as to nearby office buildings. Harris recalled another office owner saying he’s struggling to keep his tenants, and could use the retail nearby to help retain them.

JBG will return at future sessions with more detailed information for the commissioners regarding the request. Once again, the weak office market is casting doubt on whether smart growth can be applied in Montgomery County, if there are not adequate, high-wage jobs nearby these new developments.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


The transformation of the former Legacy Hotel into an EVEN Hotel continues on Rockville Pike. EVEN Hotels is a wellness-themed brand within the IHG hospitality group, which also includes Holiday Inn. The hotel is designed to not only make healthy travel accommodations available, but also accessible and easy to take advantage of.

In the hotel room renderings by IHG below, you can see that exercise equipment is not just in the expected fitness center of the hotel, but also right in the room. I've seen this trend myself in some Hilton hotels, for example, where there was a treadmill right in the room. On-site food and beverages will also fit the wellness theme, quite a change from the decadent carrot cake I had in the old Phillips Restaurant in the Legacy Hotel.

You may notice some of the Legacy Hotel's windows are being bricked up; as you can see in the IHG rendering below, that brown rectangle is where those windows are being eliminated as part of the redesign.
EVEN Hotel as seen from
Rockville Pike

Note the exercise ball by the window

Spa-type shower

In-room exercise gear

That exercise ball just won't stop
giving you the guilt trip, will it?

Front windows being bricked up (L)

What you'll do at EVEN Hotels

Keep your wellness routine
on the road

Side view

Hotel shuttle, or just
a mobile ad?

Right this way...

Photos by Rockville Nights
Renderings by IHG, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 14, 2014



Here are some photos of the future Dough Roller in the King Farm Village shopping center in Rockville. The company does not yet have an opening date set, but a spokesperson said yesterday that they "know everyone on the western shore is ready for some good pizza." This is a good-size space for the future restaurant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014



Legendary Ocean City, Maryland pizza and pancake restaurant Dough Roller is expanding to Rockville. Dough Roller's first location outside of OC will be in the King Farm Village Shopping Center, at 403 Redland Boulevard. The restaurant will be near Safeway, and next to Kick's Karate.

Voted "OC's Best Pizza" for the last 13 years, Dough Roller is also one of the resort town's top breakfast spots. The menu at the Rockville Dough Roller is expected to be more like their 3rd, 41st, and 70th Street locations than the S. Division Street outlet (meaning, no Dayton's Fried Chicken). There will be their classic pizza and pancakes, omelets, sandwiches and subs.

Stay tuned for an opening date. Depending on your level of obsession with Ocean City, this could well be the biggest DC-area restaurant story of 2014. Is Thrasher's next?

Logo courtesy of Dough Roller
All rights reserved

Monday, May 12, 2014


The vacant former Magruder's store in College Plaza on MD 355 finally has a tenant. New York Mart has leased the space, and will be the latest competitor in the international groceries category now flourishing in Rockville. New York Mart will literally be just up the road from Kam Sam Supermarket, Great Wall Supermarket and Maxim Gourmet Oriental Market along the Rockville Pike corridor. The burgeoning Asian population in Rockville has made it one of the prime spots for Asian food markets, and restaurants, in the DC area.

Friday, May 9, 2014


School construction was the major focus for Rockville's mayor and council, during a presentation by Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice Monday evening. While Rice said the council made an effort to obtain additional funds from the state, "the end result wasn't what we wanted." The plan was rebuffed by politicians in the Maryland General Assembly during the 2014 session.

"We are ready, willing and able to join with get to Annapolis" to testify for additional funds, Mayor Bridget Newton said.

Councilmember Tom Moore asked Rice for "every consideration" for construction of Richard Montgomery Elementary School No. 5. The cluster's elementary schools are "greatly overcrowded," Moore noted, and the new school is desperately needed.

Rice said, based on his review of Rockville's priorities, that the county council is "trying to adhere to many of the same policy goals," as the city. He also stressed the importance of assisting workforce development for those with special needs, and organizations such as Jubilee and ARC.

Ultimately, the holdup of construction funds for Rockville schools "is a joint problem," Rice said, that can only be resolved by working together with the city and the state.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Rockville on May 5-6, according to crime data:


Assault. 12900 block Twinbrook Parkway.

Theft from vehicle. 1500 block Rockville Pike.

Theft. 1500 block Rockville Pike.

Theft from vehicle. 1600 block Rockville Pike.

Theft. 1800 block Rockville Pike.

Assault. 1200 block 1st Street.

Theft. 1 block W. Montgomery Avenue.

Assault. 7700 block Eagles Head Court.


Assault with deadly weapon. 14500 block Avery Road.

Sexual assault. 8100 block Needwood Road.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


The future Zhang Restaurant and Bar at 1560 Rockville Pike has applied for a Montgomery County liquor license. Zhang will serve Chinese and Thai cuisine, and offer sushi as well. The location used to house a Chicken Out, which moved up the Pike to College Plaza.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



Frozen yogurt chain Tutti Fruitti is the latest tenant to sign on at the under-construction Pike & Rose development, in the White Flint area of south Rockville. But the shop won't be in the newer Federal Realty buildings going up right now. Tutti Fruitti will be located in an existing retail building at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike.

That structure will be getting a makeover to better fit with the newer development on the site. Tutti Fruitti will move into the space next to Bank of America and Chipotle. Montgomery County has 3 Tutti Fruittis already, located in Wheaton, Germantown and Damascus.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Here's a TV dinner with no pretenses of being a health food choice. No vegetables are to be found. Just three things many Americans enjoy eating: fried chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and a brownie.

You can find this meal for about $1 in the grocery store. How does it taste? Watch my review to find out.

Friday, May 2, 2014


A request for a parking waiver by JBG entity "Hungerford Retail II, LLC" failed to convince a skeptical Rockville Planning Commission last week, leading the development's attorney to request a deferment of the petition. The project is a 2-story, mixed-use building with office and restaurant space, where a former Giant grocery store was recently demolished. A 41% decrease in parking spaces was requested for the structure, which will include a one-level, below-grade garage.

The waiver request stumbled out of the gate, with the last-minute revelation that the applicant had not apprised nearby residents of the parking changes. A communication from the West End Citizen's Association earlier in the day suggested neighbors were not yet informed of the plan, and requested a postponement of the decision. “It is with some puzzlement that I’ve learned that WECA was not involved, was not notified about this parking waiver," Commissioner Jack Leiderman said. "We did receive a letter from the president of WECA to postpone the waiver. As a commission, we need to slow down and get the input of the community." Commissioner John Tyner concurred, characterizing the applicant's failure to inform WECA in advance as "a strategic error." City planning staff member Cas Chasten said that, while waiver applicants are not required to notify neighbors, city staff had strongly advised them to do so.

Commissioner Dion Trahan was equally concerned about neighborhoods that would be affected by parking changes in East Rockville, such as Lincoln Park. The failure to notify them made the applicant appear "insincere," he said. "Whenever the citizenry talk about these back room deals going on in City Hall, this is what they’re talking about,” Trahan added.

The applicant's attorney, Erica Leatham, said they apologized to WECA and the Planning Commission for the lack of communication.

Another major concern among commissioners was the relevance and accuracy of the parking studies submitted by the applicant, which were designed to support approval of the waiver.

The wheels came entirely off when the applicant's parking consultant, Edward Papazian, was caught off-guard during cross examination by Leiderman.

Papazian had stated that the high volume of parking recorded in a study of Rockville Town Square garages on Thursday, December 12, 2013, was atypical. Demand would be less on the average night, Papazian claimed, because the city's Christmas tree lighting event had inflated the numbers on the 12th.

"Would it surprise you, sir," Leiderman asked, "to learn that the tree lighting event was actually a week before, on Thursday, December 5th?”

"We were there, our people were there," Papazian insisted.

Leiderman begged to differ, citing official transcripts of a Mayor and Council meeting three days before Papazian's claimed tree lighting ceremony.

"It’s a matter of public record," Leiderman said. "I have The Mayor and Council meeting [transcript] of December 9th, [during which] Councilmember [Beryl] Feinberg reported that she attended the Rockville Christmas tree lighting on Thursday, December 5th."

Leiderman said the false information regarding the parking counts called the whole report into question. "I don’t trust your report, with all due respect. If I had more time, what other junk would I find in it?" Leiderman asked. "You’re coming here with this report that’s filled with numbers, and we’re supposed to base important land use decisions on the accuracy of them. You’re attributing [numbers] to something that didn’t even happen, some data that could have just been a routine Thursday night with [it being] hard to park in the city. You’re saying it’s [the tree lighting]. It didn’t happen. So, I’m looking at this report going…”, Leiderman concluded with an expression of disbelief.

Many commissioners, including Chairman Don Hadley, expressed concern that the urban parking concept was out of sync with the reality of Rockville as a suburban city of residential neighborhoods. Using Montgomery County parking studies and practices would put future growth in Rockville on a course more in line with denser areas like White Flint or downtown Bethesda, something the city does not want, Hadley suggested.

"The assumption that this is an urban area…probably misses the mark on what we deem or believe to be the reality in Rockville, now and for the future," Hadley said. "[I]f [people] want an urban area, they can go to New York, Chicago or L.A." Large parking garages may not be preferable to suburban clientele, Hadley said. Most families with children won't ride bikes to the town center, he argued, saying most will "hop in the car." Moreover, between existing transit options, and those on the drawing board, many suburban residents "won’t have public transportation that is desirable for their preferences” anytime soon, he said. Hadley noted that Montgomery County Government's perception of urban is “vastly different” from Rockville’s definition.

Leiderman expressed similar skepticism of the applicant's smart growth predictions. He pointed out that previous town center projects were held to a higher standard than the applicant was proposing for itself. Urbanization proponents, Leiderman said, are "wanting to buy in to the aspirational goal that Rockville will no longer be a suburb, it will be an urban center, and everyone is going to be on a bike, and walking, and 75% of the people working here will use transit…that’s not what the numbers for the Choice Hotels site were based on." Leiderman predicted "people are going to park in the residential neighborhoods,” or take their business elsewhere, if parking is difficult.

Commissioner Charles Littlefield expanded on Leiderman's reference to the impact on businesses, warning that one bad parking experience is enough to send patrons elsewhere to dine and shop. Littlefield cited the free and ample parking at Gaithersburg's Washingtonian Center as a better model. "I’ve never once not been able to find parking” at Washingtonian Center, Littlefield noted. Leiderman said difficulty and inconvenience locating parking would deter customers, "as things get built out, having a harder time finding parking, having to go higher and higher” in the garages, he said.

The idea that customers could park in other garages would be shifting the cost of parking to taxpayers and other adjacent property owners, Leiderman said.

By this point, the applicant had also lost Commissioner David Hill's support. Considering that the applicant had already received significant exemptions on parking for the project, Hill said, "I as a public official can’t countenance making that number bigger. He said Bethesda or White Flint-style development is not what Rockville wants for its future.

"I'm not comfortable passing our responsibility onto the chief of planning," Hill said. "I have no problem with the argument that you qualify for the waiver [but] I would like to see us leave this in a position where we can continue talking."

In addition, Hill felt that the city is facing a larger issue with this and future parking waiver requests, which the city's zoning code is currently unequipped to address. "I think that what we should be doing right now is having a legislative discussion about changing the zoning ordinance," Hill suggested. He also doubted the numbers regarding how many customers would indeed be on-site, as opposed to traveling by car. "You haven’t cleared the very high wall" to justify an exemption, Hill concluded.

With the request obviously heading for rejection, Leatham then asked the commission for a deferral. After some discussion among commissioners as to how citizens could best be heard, and to whether or not it would be best to extend this petition, or require a new one, the commission voted unanimously to defer the waiver request, and leave the public record open.

The applicant was advised to gain public input from residents of nearby neighborhoods before returning. Leatham said there was no guarantee the specifics of the request would change, but that the applicant would gather more data in support of a waiver.

Hadley somewhat jokingly apologized to the applicant's representatives, for having to take a "horsewhipping" during the four-hour meeting.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Construction continues at the future site of a Cambria Suites hotel, and the Upton Rockville luxury apartments, at E. Middle Lane in Rockville Town Center.

The Upton will include a 15th floor rooftop deck and club room, and a 9th-floor sky terrace (did they get those reversed?).

Click photos to enlarge for greater detail: