Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Rockville construction update: The Escher/1900 Chapman Avenue apartments (Video+Photos)

Lots of news out of the 1900 Chapman Avenue development, on the former Syms site in Rockville. First, it finally has an official name, The Escher. Second, at long last, there is a website and leasing information. Finally, there are some impressive lighting features at The Escher, as you can see in these photos and in this video:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Signage installed at Kabuto in Rockville

The permanent signage is now up at Kabuto, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar in the ground floor of Foulger-Pratt's Rockville Metro II building, located at 1 Choice Hotels Circle. Work is coming along slowly-but-surely inside, with a wraparound bar already installed.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Yamachan Ramen to open in Rockville...and Pearl Lady Harajuku Bubble Tea Shop!

Another ramen eatery is coming to Rockville, this time to the heart of Rockville's Town Center. Yamachan Ramen has leased a prime corner spot next to Supercuts at The Upton/Cambria Hotel and Suites development, at the intersection of E. Middle Lane and Maryland Avenue. The restaurant will use the ramen noodle products of the Yamachan Ramen brand.
Pearl Lady Bubble Tea Shop logo
stenciled on the restaurant's window
Even more interesting, is that stencils on the doors and windows of the restaurant are touting Tokyo's famous Pearl Lady Harajuku Bubble Tea Shop as part of the new establishment. What a great addition to the Town Center, and definitely something to set it apart from the many competing bubble tea options in town. Pearl Lady is regularly named one of the top 5 bubble tea shops in Japan, and as far as I can tell, this would be the first Pearl Lady shop outside of Japan. A must try!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Rockville Planning Commission to go into closed session May 23

The Rockville Planning Commission will adjourn into a closed session at its 7:00 PM meeting May 23, 2018 at City Hall, to "consult with counsel to obtain legal advice regarding a pending Site Plan application." At 7:30, commissioners will then reconvene in open session for the rest of the evening's agenda, which will include a discussion of planning area boundaries for the Updated Comprehensive Master Plan. The applicant with the "pending Site Plan" is not identified.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Staycation at the Beach at Pike & Rose; mattress retailer to fill old Starbucks space (Photos)

The beach just got 150 miles closer to home at Pike & Rose. Property owner Federal Realty is turning an empty lot at the north end of the development into a seaside take on The Bullpen near Nationals Park. Just north of Rose Park along Prose Street, west of the Porsche Bethesda dealership, The Beach will offer real sand, public seating areas, games, and programmed events throughout the summer.

On weekends, The Beach will become a Happy Hour destination, thanks to catering partner Ridgewells. Their Beach Bar will offer light snacks, beer and wine, and beach-inspired cocktails that will of course include the Orange Crush.

You don't even have to be at The Beach to see The Beach - Federal Realty has installed a 24-hour camera trained on The Beach atop Pinstripes. The Beach is scheduled to be open by Memorial Day Weekend.

Meanwhile, in new tenant news at Pike & Rose, organic mattress retailer Naturepedic will soon open at store at the development. The Ohio-based retailer currently has only 12 showrooms in North America. This one will be in the former Starbucks location near the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike, which became vacant when Starbucks relocated to Grand Park Avenue.

Photo: Robert Dyer
Renderings courtesy Pike & Rose

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Taylor Gourmet to open Rockville location this morning

Taylor Gourmet's newest Montgomery County location will open today at 826 Rose Avenue at Pike & Rose. The fast casual hoagie shop is in the ground floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel at the Federal Realty development. If you are one of the first 100 people in line at 11:00 AM this morning, you will win a free tote bag featuring art by JD Deardourff.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Slapfish aiming for June opening in Rockville

Fast-casual seafood restaurant Slapfish is working towards a tentative early June opening at the Montrose Crossing shopping center at 12033 Rockville Pike. The 2250 SF restaurant will feature 68 seats inside, and 16 more on an outdoor patio space.

Slapfish will be open Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 AM to 11:00 PM. They will serve craft beer and wine among the beverage choices.

Can they succeed like Luke's Lobster, or will they fail like LobsterME? Their prices appear to be lower than LobsterME in California. Will this location offer the Lobster Ramen Burrito? Stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Rockville Farmers Market opens

The Rockville Farmers Market reopened for the season Saturday in the jury parking lot at East Jefferson and Monroe Streets in Rockville Town Center. It will be open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM every Saturday through November 17. New vendors for 2018 will offer fresh cheeses, mushrooms from the Eastern Shore, beeswax candles, soaps, empanadas, herbs, flowers and other locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Image courtesy City of Rockville

Friday, May 11, 2018

Flower Child restaurant to open in Rockville

Flower Child, another healthy dining concept from the creator of True Food Kitchen, is coming to Montgomery County. Fox Restaurant Concepts has leased spaces at Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda, and at 10016 Darnestown Road in Rockville. Flower Child's menu consists of trendy vegetable and grain-based bowls, plates and wraps, with the option to add chicken, steak, salmon or tofu.

As expected, there is an emphasis on organic, non-gmo and superfood ingredients. Salads, and a short starters list with hummus, soup and avocado toast round out the menu. Beverage selections include local craft beer, wine and, of course, kombucha.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Baked Bear to open May 19 in Rockville

Just in time for warmer temperatures, The Baked Bear will open its doors at Pike & Rose for the first time on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 1:00 PM. Is there any reason to get there early? You better believe it.

The first 300 people in line will get a free ice cream sandwich. The first 20 people in line will also get a free Baked Bear t-shirt. And the first 100 people will be entered to win 50 pre-made sandwiches for a party or event.

The Baked Bear has a Cookie-of-the-Month on the menu, and this month's sounds pretty interesting: Mexican Hot Chocolate. Find The Baked Bear at 929 Rose Avenue #404.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sneak preview of interior of JINYA Ramen Bar opening this summer in Rockville (Photos)

We knew JINYA Ramen Bar was opening at Pike & Rose, but now we know what the restaurant at 910 Prose Street will look like inside when its doors open early this summer. The chain sent me these renderings of the exterior and interior of their first Montgomery County location, and photos of a few dishes.

In addition to traditional, Americanized and custom ramen options like Spicy Chicken Ramen, Slurp Up Cilantro Ramen, Old Skool Ramen, and Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen, JINYA will also offer salads, bowls, small plates, mini tacos (salmon, tuna or pork chashu & kimchee), desserts, and even Tokyo Curry Rice.

Japanese-cocktails, local craft beers, whiskeys, sake and seasonal house-made beverages will be among the beverage options. Outdoor patio seating will also be available. JINYA will share a building with the already-open L.L. Bean store, overlooking Rose Park.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Signage installed at Pike Kitchen Asian food hall in Rockville (Photos)

Signage is up at the future Pike Kitchen Asian food hall in the Edmonston Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike. The space is located between LensCrafters and Taco Bell. Wave to me as I come through the drive-thru with a $5 box meal.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Hallmark relocates at Congressional Plaza in Rockville (Photos)

Hallmark Gold Crown has moved three doors down from its original spot at Congressional Plaza. It can now be found next to Child's Play at 1663 Rockville Pike. For those seeking employment, the store is currently hiring. Wunderbar.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Helpless Hans Riemer out of his depth on MoCo's moribund economy

Montgomery County Council President Helpless Hans Riemer appeared lost in his laughably-disastrous attempts to dismiss growing media reports of the county's tanking economy. Confronted with data from the United States government showing Montgomery at rock bottom in growth of new businesses in the region, and suffering from a stagnant economy, Riemer rambled incoherently for 30 minutes before reporters Monday - while frequently consulting cue cards on the table prepared by his staff. If you play a drinking game taking a shot each time Riemer looks down at his cue cards, you'll be knocked out a few minutes into the press conference.

Many are still trying to translate Riemer's stream-of-consciousness remarks Monday. At one point, Riemer responded to a reporter who challenged him to cite a specific error in the Sage Policy Group report with this whopper: "If you combine four or five points, seem (sic) to create a version of reality that is really a very distorted version of reality. So that's, that's fundamentally, you know, whether one data point from one year to another year might have shown what that report showed isn't really the point."


That wasn't even grammatically correct or logically coherent, much less an answer to the reporter's demand for specifics.

Ignore the official government data, Riemer advised reporters, suggesting that his own anecdotal thoughts somehow trump numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). He then threw out a number of ridiculously absurd excuses for Montgomery's woes, even while claiming there are no woes.

Riemer pointed to the federal budget sequestration impact. That made no sense, because sequestration had a far greater impact on Northern Virginia in recent years, as counties like Fairfax are home to many more defense contractors than Montgomery County. Yet Fairfax County enjoyed a net gain of 3000 new businesses this decade - which included the sequestration years. How many did Montgomery County gain over the same period? Six. SIX! Humiliating, but certainly not the fault of sequestration, as the Fairfax boom proves.

The Council President also argued the Great Recession was to blame, and that Montgomery County was enjoying "better outcomes" than other jurisdictions in the region. Again, totally false. Despite the recession "slowing down" the regional economy, all the other jurisdictions around us outperformed Montgomery County. In fact, Montgomery County was whipped across the board in economic development and job creation by not only Fairfax, Loudoun and other wealthy D.C.-area counties, but even by upstart whippersnappers like Culpeper, Spotsylvania and Rappahannock Counties.

Riemer really went off the deep end by touting Montgomery County's low unemployment rate and high incomes. Neither statistic actually has anything to do with the strength of Montgomery County's economy. They simply mean that Montgomery County residents are employed in high-wage jobs outside of our county, in places like D.C. and Fairfax County. Low unemployment in no way reflects the number of jobs in a jurisdiction, only the employment status of its residents. Yet Riemer said the low number of new businesses created this decade in Montgomery couldn't possibly be true, because of our low unemployment rate. Huh? The two statistics have nothing to do with each other.

One has to worry that someone with as poor of a grasp of basic economic concepts and data as Helpless Hans Riemer is currently in charge of directing the county's economic future. If someone actually believes that the unemployment rate reflects the number of jobs created within Montgomery County, they are clueless about economic development. God help us!

Most entertaining were the many times Riemer couldn't find an answer to a reporter's question on the cue cards in front of him. After searching his flash cards frantically for an answer to exactly why Sage's new business number was somehow wrong, Helpless Hans looked, well, helplessly around the room. "I think I'm going to have to refer you to Council staff for the exact details about why this new business starts [sigh] conversation is just out in left field."

Wait, the Council President doesn't know the numbers? And he's in charge of the next budget, and getting paid $137,000 for this job? Wow. Humiliating. If he doesn't know the numbers, why is he challenging the report?

Riemer then suggested the new business starts number doesn't correspond with other data from BLS.

"Okay, so what does BLS say?" a reporter pressed.

Riemer looked helplessly around the room again. "I don't know if Council staff is here," he stammered. "You'll have to, I'll have to, to get you together with Gene, um, after today."


Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Magazine asked Riemer regarding the County's Economic Development Corporation, "Can you think of any major accomplishments or achievements they have? What exactly has MCEDC done in the last two years?"

Riemer consulted his cue cards again to no avail. "Okay, so, what are the successes of the Economic Development Corporation? Um, [grimaces] I might need a little staff here. Uh, you know, uh, yeah, my economic development team is not here."

Asked when Montgomery County opened dialogue with Discovery Communications after it was known they were considering relocating from Silver Spring, Riemer replied, "I don't have that information." In other words, there was no dialogue.

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Riemer is clearly not yet prepared to take that step. And as a result, Montgomery County's moribund economy cannot move forward until he is replaced.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rockville construction update: Funeral home conversion (Photos)

This Rockville property transformation aims to put the fun back in funeral. A former funeral home at 1170 Rockville Pike, for decades attached to the Veneman's music store (now a Bassett Furniture emporium), is being converted to a commercial space with retail and office uses.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Meet MoCo Council candidates Thursday, May 3 at Randolph Hills forum at 8 PM

The Randolph Hills Civic Association is sponsoring a Montgomery County Council and District 18 General Assembly candidate forum tomorrow night, Thursday, May 3, 2018, from 8:00-9:30 PM at the Veirs Mill Recreation Center, located at 4425 Garrett Park Road in Silver Spring.

Candidates will introduce themselves for 2 minutes each, and then attendees can speak one-on-one to candidates who will be spread around the room.

Among those participating is Montgomery County Council At-Large candidate Robert Dyer.