Friday, December 30, 2016

CS NY Pizza to bring New York-style pizza to Rockville

Having mastered the art of real Neapolitan pizza, the owners of Pizza CS in Rockville are turning their attention to a pizza capital a little closer to home: New York City. CS NY Pizza is promising to bring authentic New York-style pizza to the Edmonston Crossing shopping center, located at 1020-1066 Rockville Pike, just north of Taco Bell.

CS NY Pizza is scheduled to open in March.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rockville is ready for A Bite of China

A Bite of China isn't just a Chinese television show anymore. It's also going to be the newest addition to Rockville's exploding Asian community and businesses. The restaurant will be located at 15106-A Frederick Road, in the College Plaza shopping center. A Bite of China has applied for a liquor license from Montgomery County. Stay tuned for further details.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winchester Homes closes on 1900 Chapman Avenue deal in Rockville

Winchester Homes is the developer that will construct 61 townhomes at 1900 Chapman Avenue in Rockville. The former site of Syms, the property is divided between Winchester's project, and a 318 unit apartment building by a separate developer. Winchester has now purchased the 104855 SF site for $10,365,000, according to real estate records. The project is directly adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks and Twinbrook Parkway.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

GNC stores in Rockville to close Wednesday, reopen as One New GNC on Thursday

Struggling vitamin and supplement retailer GNC is making a dramatic effort to right the ship this week. Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 28, all of their stores nationwide - including the ones in Fallsgrove and Federal Plaza - will close for the day. When they reopen on Thursday, they will be rebranded as One New GNC, according to a company spokesperson.

Store staff will be armed with tablets to assist customers, and new point-of-sale terminals will provide faster checkouts. A new loyalty program and mobile app will go online at the same time, with the idea of increasing customer incentives to shop at GNC. And inventory will be more diverse, with new brands, and more stock of currently-popular products.

During January, a 1 Million Point Giveaway Contest will be held, and other samples and prizes will be awarded in stores on Saturdays. Robert F. Moran, Interim Chief Executive Officer of GNC, doesn't underestimate the challenge of turning the company around.  "The New GNC leaves the old, broken model behind," he said in a statement. "We're confident it will have a positive impact on the business, but it will take time for the changes to take hold and translate to improved financial results."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rockville Mayor elected chair of National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton was unanimously elected Chairman of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board for 2017 on Wednesday.  The TPB includes representatives of local governments, state transportation agencies, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and members of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, and prepares regional plans and programs for approval by the federal government. Without those plans and approvals, the region cannot receive federal funds for important projects and programs.

Newton is completing her fourth term on the TPB, and served as its vice-chair this past year. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a member at large of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Board of Directors and served as president of MML's Montgomery County chapter from November 2012 through May 2015. She is in her sixth term on the MML Legislative Committee, of which she was appointed committee chairman in June 2015.

"I am honored and humbled to serve as chairman of the TPB in 2017," Newton said in a statement yesterday. "As a regional, long-range planning board, the TPB has a unique responsibility for thinking across jurisdictional boundaries and decades into the future. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues from across the metro area to address our region's long-term transportation needs."

Newton's election to this key leadership position gives Rockville and Montgomery County an important seat at the table, as critical transportation policy decisions are made for the D.C. region.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Barwood files for bankruptcy after MoCo Council charged you to subsidize it

"If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it."
- Ronald Reagan

SPECIAL REPORT: Abuse of the system

The Montgomery County Council proved yet again why term limits were supported by nearly 80% of their constituents this week, when the dinosaur taxicab company it tried to preserve for the last year using your tax dollars filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Barwood Cab announced the filing yesterday, about 18 months after the Council gave the company several regulatory breaks, and charged Uber users and taxpayers to subsidize changes that would help it compete with Uber and Lyft.
Fox 5 News
The private-sector entrepreneurs who created Uber and other ride-sharing services spent years and many thousands of dollars developing the mobile apps that brought them so much success. Barwood and other taxi monopolies around the country could have invested in and implemented such apps years ago, if they wished. They didn't.

What did the Montgomery County Council do? They charged their constituents and Uber new taxes and fees to fund the creation of what they claimed would be a hip, new Barwood app - a.k.a. "a centralized dispatch system" - at YOUR expense.
Montgomery County Council
generously using your money
to help Barwood Cab
"Compete With Companies
Like Uber," NBC4 reported
The laws passed also gave numerous, money-saving breaks to Barwood that weren't in the public interest, such as allowing them to use older vehicles longer (not exactly a move to increase service reliability, as your mechanic might be able to tell you), relax meter standards and color requirements, and allow sublicensing and temporary identification cards for taxicab companies - which are not ride-sharing services like Uber, and therefore were supposed to be more regulated.

Fact is, the Council was once again caught "fighting the future," trying to drive the very ride-sharing services their constituents now choose over the Stone Age taxicab out of the county.

Who were the lead faces behind Barwood-subsidizing Uber"taxicab reform?" Councilmembers Roger Berliner (who once had the owner of Barwood serve as his County Council campaign treasurer) and - surprise! - Hans Riemer. Once again, Councilmember Riemer has proved every initiative he takes on will end in complete and utter failure.

Ending the County liquor monopoly? I'll give you a few minutes here, to roll around on the floor with laughter. After claiming with great media fanfare that government had no business running the liquor business, Riemer ended up ramming through a proposal that would preserve the dinosaur liquor monopoly at the expense of taxpayers, and restaurant and bar owners. It was such a great proposal that his own Democratic colleagues in Annapolis tore it up and threw it in the trash upon its arrival. Riemer has since endorsed numerous variations on the theme - solutions that preserve government control, while charging new taxes to subsidize that monopoly. Nice.

Food trucks? Riemer's own political operative, who was appointed to a $150,000 County position, was put in charge of "helping food trucks." The changes he and Riemer implemented resulted in 96% of food trucks going out of business, or retreating back into the District. A handful remain, which operate only on private property.

Cybersecurity? Riemer promised in 2010 to make MoCo a "cybersecurity hub" on the east coast. Four years later, it was exposed that the county government was running on Windows 2000, perhaps the most insecure platform in the world. Six years later, a State audit revealed critical cybersecurity weaknesses in Montgomery County Public Schools' computer network. These flaws put private student information a few clicks away for hackers, and gave access to the entire MCPS network, including log-in passwords for personnel. Yikes.

Jobs? Riemer was given a friendly platform by the faux-conservative Washington Examiner in 2012 to announce he was going to do something about the county's "sluggish job growth." Results? Four years later, Riemer's own former chief of staff criticized the county's "stagnant" private-sector economy, which remains moribund. The County continues to experience a net loss in private-sector jobs since 2000, including a loss of 2000 retail jobs, according to the Maryland Association of Retailers. Not one single major corporation has moved its headquarters to Montgomery County in two decades. Ouch.

Hans Riemer made himself the public face of a snow removal law that cost County taxpayers $6 million, for his own publicity purposes and political gain. Then winter hit, and snow remained unshoveled in front of properties owned by wealthy developers, and more embarrassingly, by Montgomery County itself! To cap off the humiliation, Riemer and his council colleagues rode past the snow piles multiple times on a tourist bus tour of the Westbard area, and after seeing the unshoveled sidewalks, still took no action. Best of all, in recent weeks, Riemer has put himself forward in the media again as the "snow guy." Oh, boy, is this winter going to be fun.

Changes ahead for Barwood? They will paint their cabs black (in fact, they've already started doing so), and will use iPads for payment. The former would eliminate the one branding element they've been known for. As for the latter - why would you want to deal with somebody's dirty public iPad, when Uber lets you use your own phone for the entire transaction, including receipt? Talk about the stone age.

After the "success" of using their constituents' money to boost Barwood Cab, what's the next venture for Riemer and the Council? They're going into the banking business!

That's right. The seemingly endless number of banks all around us are no longer enough. Berliner is going to start his own bank - with your money. How generous! Local businesspeople will go to the Bank of The Montgomery County Council and get a loan. They represent a risk that real, private banks won't take on. But that's not a problem at the Council's bank - because it's your money they'll be doling out, not theirs.

You won't even get a lollipop.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rockville fire displaces residents

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded to a fire in the 1700 block of Pasture Brook Way in Rockville around 9:45 last night. They found a 3-story home ablaze in heavy fire. The initial investigation suggests the cause was ashes that had been disposed of in the garage, according to MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer. Fire spread from the garage to the rest of the home, he said.

Over 75 firefighters were needed to extinguish the heavy flames. Neighbors called 911 to report the fire, Piringer said. Damage is estimated at over $600,000, and two adult residents have been displaced.

Piringer stressed the importance of properly disposing of fireplace ashes. Place them in a metal container with a lid, and never in a cardboard box, plastic trash can or bag. Once filled, place the container outside away from your house, or any combustible material. Never place ashes in the garage.

Photo: Pete Piringer/MCFRS

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Take a virtual tour of Rockville's new liquor store (Photos)

What's on the shelves at the new Montgomery County Liquor store at 300 N. Washington Street in Rockville? The beer selection is not outstanding, but if you want the hard stuff, the County's government liquor monopoly requires you to shop in their stores. Let's take a look:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sazon Inka appears to be for sale in Rockville

Just short of its two-year anniversary in Rockville, Peruvian restaurant Sazon Inka is apparently being offered for sale by its owners. They are ready to "make a great deal" on selling or leasing the business, due to "personal issues," the Craigslist ad states.

While the ad does not state the name of the restaurant, the photos and location match up with Sazon Inka. The restaurant remains open for business.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rockville construction update: Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet (Photos)

Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet's new dealership location in Wintergreen Plaza on Rockville Pike looks just about ready to open. The furniture and artwork are already in the showroom, with the latter depicting some of the most famous lines and designs in Chevy history.

We're about a month past when Ourisman had originally planned to have moved down from its existing dealership location, at 15301 N. Frederick Road, but the logistics of the move must be enormous.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Rockville store offers designer apparel for plus-size men (Photos)

The models and mannequins are huskier than usual in the display windows at the new DXL men's apparel store in the Pike Center, now open at 12137-C Rockville Pike. DXL, short for Destination XL, offers familiar brands, including high-end labels, in waist sizes 38-64 and Tall Sizes to 6XLT. They also carry shoes up to size 16, and widths up to 5E.

DXL says it is the only retailer that carries Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Reebok and True Religion in these largest sizes. Other famous labels include  Polo Ralph Lauren, Levi's, Cutter & Buck, Nautica, Jack Victor, Lucky Jeans, Robert Graham, and Cole Haan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fresh Baguette opening in Rockville

Fresh Baguette, an authentic French bakery, is opening in Rockville early next year. The bakery, which started with a downtown Bethesda location three years ago, will be located in the former Banner Glass space at 804 Hungerford Drive. That is very close to an existing Rockville French bakery, Lavande Patisserie on N. Washington Street.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rockville construction update: Mission BBQ (Photos)

Glen Burnie-based Mission BBQ is beginning the build-out of its newest location in Rockville. The restaurant will be located in the recently-vacated Benjarong space at Wintergreen Plaza, at 885 Rockville Pike.

Benjarong closed but the loss is BBQ fans' gain, as Mission BBQ is inspired by some of the great BBQ joints across America. Launched with its first location on September 11, 2001, the chain's dining rooms pay tribute to America's heroes in uniform. Mission BBQ supports a massive list of charities and organizations that serve or represent active duty soldiers, veterans, police officers and firefighters at the national and local levels.

As you can see, they've also applied for their liquor license. From what I understand, they also pay tribute once each day to American heroes with the national anthem at noon. They also have seasonal menu items, currently featuring a prime rib, creamed corn and Bourbon Street Caramel Bread Pudding that look mighty good.

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Montgomery County Liquor Store opens in Rockville (Photos)

A new Montgomery County Liquor store has opened in the former Kam Sam Supermarket at 300 N. Washington Street in Rockville.