Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Scott/Veirs Drive path would connect Carl Henn Millennium Trail to new Pepco Trail

The City of Rockville has received $60,000 from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for a feasibility study for a new shared-use path along Scott Drive and Veirs Drive to Glen Mill Road. If built, the path would provide a bike connection between the existing Carl Henn Millennium Trail and the new Pepco Trail being constructed by Exelon and Montgomery County. The 6-mile Pepco Trail will connect the South Germantown Recreational Park with Muddy Branch Stream Valley Park.

Schools and a senior living community are among the properties that would benefit from the new path, which was called for in the Rockville Bikeways Master Plan approved in 2017. The feasibility study will determine the best alignment for the path along the route. Once completed, engineering work can begin on the project.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pearl Lady tea shop opens in Rockville

The new Pearl Lady bubble tea shop and Yamachan Ramen have opened at 201 E. Middle Lane in Rockville Town Center. They are in the ground floor of the Cambria Suites hotel. This is the first Pearl Lady location outside of Japan, and among the drinks the Rockville shop is highlighting is their Amber Boba. The ramen menu is also available.

Friday, July 27, 2018

JINYA Ramen Bar sets opening date at Pike & Rose

JINYA Ramen Bar announced its long-anticipated opening date at Pike & Rose on Thursday. The third D.C.-area location of the sit-down, full-service restaurant will open on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 11:00 AM. Festivities will begin with a ribbon-cutting, and the first 100 guests will receive a free bowl of ramen. All guests will have a chance to win door prizes, and a portion of the opening day proceeds will be donated to Manna Food Center in Montgomery County.

Specializing in authentic Tonkotsu ramen, JINYA Ramen Bar simmers their broth for over ten hours for flavor, and ages their hand-made noodles for three days. Also authentic will be the Japanese Whisky Highball, not to be confused with the typical highball served in American bars. When added to the menu in the future, the drink will be made with a special Highball machine distributed by Suntory Toki itself. JINYA will be the first D.C.-area establishment to have the machine.

Closer to home, local craft beers will share the list with Japanese brews. To show support for flood-damaged Ellicott City, JINYA is launching with beers from Manor Hill Brewing.

With five types of broth, four noodles, a variety of tare seasonings and oils, and over 25 toppings, you are unlikely to exhaust every customized menu option possible anytime soon. Beyond ramen, there are other JINYA specialties like Salmon Poke mini tacos, the JINYA Bun, Brussels Sprouts Tempura with truffle oil, Takoyaki, JINYA Quinoa Salad, and a selection of rice bowls and curry. For dessert, you will be able to finish your meal with choices such as Green Tea or Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream, Panna Cotta and Green Tea Pistachio or Triple Berry White Chocolate BlockPops.

JINYA will have indoor seating for 74, including the ten seats at the full bar, and communal outdoor seating for 18 around a fire pit. The restaurant is located at 910 Prose Street, at Rose Park, alongside The Baked Bear and L.L. Bean. Initial business hours at launch will be Sunday – Thursday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM. and Friday - Saturday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Happy Hour specials will be served daily from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. The owner says hours may change as the Pike & Rose neighborhood continues to grow and evolve over time.

Photos courtesy JINYA Ramen Bar

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Reappointment of planning commissioner on Mayor & Council agenda August 1

There is currently one vacancy on the Rockville Planning Commission. Current commissioner Charles Littlefield is willing to serve another term, and his potential reappointment is on the Mayor & Council's agenda for their August 1 meeting. If approved, Littlefield would serve until July 1, 2023.

There are also three vacancies on the Historic District Commission, for two members and one alternate. That body has found itself making key decisions on high-profile controversies in recent years, including the "Pink Bank," the Rockville Confederate statue, and the future of the Chestnut Lodge site.

An alternate member is also needed on the Board of Appeals. All three bodies play key and powerful roles in preserving the quality of life and character of Rockville.

To see all current vacancies on City boards and commissions, and to submit an application, visit the Boards and Commissions page on the City website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

UNIQLO to open September 1 in Rockville

Famed Japanese apparel retailer UNIQLO has posted huge "Coming Soon" signage at their future Pike & Rose location at 11853 Grand Park Avenue. And now we know their opening date, as well - Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 10:00 AM.

The new store's manager will be Elissa Jackson, and they are still hiring employees. For the guys, yes, they also have a large line of men's apparel, as well as women's and children's.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Moribund MoCo economy continues to tank in 2018

New regional statistics indicate Montgomery County's moribund economy is continuing its steep decline, even as boom times continue across the river in Northern Virginia. The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University noted in its June summary of area economic indicators that in 2018, the suburban Maryland jurisdictions of the D.C. area have only accounted for 5% of regional job growth. In contrast, Northern Virginia has accounted for a whopping 78% of job growth in our region so far this year, a devastating comparison.

Virginia currently enjoys a 3.2% unemployment rate, compared to 4.3% in Maryland. According to Aaron Gregg of the Washington Post, job growth in suburban Maryland counties has "softened" further. He quotes Fuller as noting Montgomery County doesn't have the private sector federal contractors that could benefit from the Trump administration's massive boost in defense spending.
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Andy Bauer, a regional economist with the Richmond Federal Reserve, reports to the Post that "we're not seeing much job growth at all" in the suburban Maryland counties. "Northern Virginia just hasn't seen the weakness we've seen on the Maryland side."

Montgomery County has notoriously failed to attract defense and aerospace contractors - and any major corporate headquarters at all - over the last two decades. And the County Council has made aggressive moves in recent years to urge existing aerospace firm Lockheed Martin to leave the County, moves that even earned them a rebuke from their Democratic peers at the state level. "We don't need the Lockheed headquarters," Councilmember Nancy Floreen infamously told residents at the Aspen Hill Library in 2010. The Council removed a second Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area - an essential piece of infrastructure to compete with Northern Virginia for government contractors and international business firms - from the County's master plan. And it failed to win the Northrop headquarters, which ended up in - where else? - Northern Virginia.

In the Fuller Institute's June report, the authors wistfully recall the greater regional balance of decades past, when Montgomery County used to be a major player in the region, and Northern Virginia usually only accounted for 50% of regional job growth - not today's whopping 80%. To underline the stakes in the regional competition for the supposed 50,000 jobs of Amazon's HQ2, that job number is only 1500 less than the number of jobs created in the whole region between June 2017 and June 2018.
Montgomery County Council lead economic
advisor Vladimir Lenin
Unmentioned in either report are the County Council's record 2016 property tax and recordation tax hikes, 2010 energy tax hike, $15 minimum wage, and a barrage of other anti-business taxes, fees, restrictions and regulations passed since 2010 alone. While Virginia builds mile after mile of Express Lanes and steals our jobs, our Council is fighting Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes plan for I-270 and the Beltway at every turn. The Council's economic development trips abroad have been only to Communist and socialist nations including China, Cuba, and El Salvador under the rule of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who was a commander in the Communist FMLN during the country's civil war. The County even boasted that it had brought in Communist Chinese officials as advisors on the Council's $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle.

With fellow travelers like these, is it any wonder Montgomery County's economy is circling the drain?

BurgerFi to open Rockville location

Burger lovers at Pike & Rose have largely had to rely on upscale restaurants like Del Frisco's Grille and City Perch at the Federal Realty property. Now a fast casual option is on the horizon. BurgerFi, a modern and eco-friendly burger chain, has leased a spot at 11881 Grand Park Avenue.

Located next to bluemercury in the Canopy by Hilton hotel, BurgerFi will serve all-natural hamburgers, Vienna beef dogs, and veggie and vegan burgers. Their 100% natural Angus beef patties have no steroids, antibiotics or growth hormones.

Burger Fi's menu also includes fresh, hand-cut fries, double-battered crispy onion rings, craft beer, wine, natural sugar cane sodas, and frozen custards and shakes. The restaurant is currently scheduled to open this winter.

“We are extremely excited to become a new member of the Pike & Rose community, a thriving new destination to live, work, shop and dine," the Pike & Rose BurgerFi location's owner Maria Fabelo said in a statement yesterday. "We look forward to bringing our all-natural unique offerings to one of the fastest growing and cosmopolitan neighborhoods in the U.S."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hot Pot Legend opens in Rockville

Hot Pot Legend is now open at 595 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The Chinese favorite is bringing hot pot cuisine from Chengdu to Hungerford Drive, and is one of several hot pot restaurants to open in the city over the last two years. A panda theme fills the dining room, from the giant mascot to the panda seat cushions available for children.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Rockville's exploding Asian restaurant market now hits bookshelves and e-readers

Rockville has established itself as arguably the Asian dining hub of the D.C. area, only slightly exceeded in reputation at this point by Annandale. In addition to the popular entries from star chefs and mom-and-pop operators alike, one of three Asian food halls coming to Rockville has just opened its doors in Rockville Town Center. Now summer readers will find the burgeoning Asian dining scene in Rockville has hit the fiction section of their favorite neighborhood or online bookseller.

Number One Chinese Restaurant, by debut novelist Lillian Li, tells the story of the fictional Beijing Duck House and its employees. Equally heavy on cuisine and drama, the 304-page hardcover has been named a Summer Must-Read by TIME, Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal, Star Tribune, Fast Company, The Village Voice, Toronto Star, Fortune Magazine, InStyle, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Li originally hails from the D.C. area, and has since moved to Ann Arbor. So it will be interesting to see what real-life details about Rockville outside the restaurant - if any - are featured in the story.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Slapfish Rockville review (Video+Photos)

Slapfish opens tomorrow, July 20, 2018 at 11:00 AM at 12033 Rockville Pike, in the Montrose Crossing shopping center. The first 107 people in line at 11 will get a free lobster roll. But this morning, you can watch my review from a soft opening event last night.

In keeping with the sustainability theme of the
restaurant, water comes in boxes rather than
plastic bottles; at right is a cane sugar-sweetened
cola available on tap

Chowder Fries

Chowder Fries are loaded with bacon,
clam chowder, cheese and onions

Jersey Sauce (left) and
Awesome Sauce (right) are among the
dipping options

Lobster Roll with fries

Fish and chips with fries

Whitefish is used for the fish and chips

Great colors in the lobster roll

Served on a warm butter roll

The first 107 people in line at 11:00 AM
Friday will get one of these free

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

City Perch teams up with rooftop farm at Pike & Rose

City Perch Kitchen + Bar at Pike & Rose announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Up Top Acres, the rooftop farm at the Federal Realty development. Up Top Acres, the Mid-Atlantic's largest rooftop farm at 17000 SF, will supply the upscale restaurant with fresh produce grown just above the restaurant between the iPic Theatres and the Pallas luxury apartment building.

Previously, the output of the farm has primarily been going to those signed up in the Farm Membership Program, which is currently sold-out. Now City Perch will be acquiring salad greens, heirloom tomato varieties, cucumbers, scallions, peppers and eggplant, as well as herbs like cilantro and basil, into its summer menu. New to the menu is a “Chef’s Rooftop Salad” that will change based on produce available from the farm each week.

“As a seasonal American dining room, we source locally from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I have been a fan of Up Top Acres since they started in DC in 2014 and had 'produce envy' of my DC Chef friends! This is a Chef’s dream come true!  We are excited to incorporate Up Top Acres into our menus,” Chef Sherry Yard, Chief Operating Officer at iPic® Entertainment said Tuesday.  "I am truly grateful to Federal Realty and Up Top Acres for bringing sustainable produce to Pike & Rose that allows us to provide our guests with local ingredients at peak freshness and flavor.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Five Guys opens at Montrose Crossing

Five Guys has moved over to its new home at the Montrose Crossing shopping center at 12029 Rockville Pike. The restaurant is now open in the new location, and has an outdoor dining area.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Adarash Market to open in Twinbrook

Adarash Market is opening a new Rockville location, in the Twinbrook Center at 2000-B Veirs Mill Road. The Ethiopian market chain already has stores in Long Branch and White Oak. Adarash will provide some international competition to Lotte Plaza Market, already open in the former Twinbrook Safeway building.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rockville's newest Starbucks is now open

The new Starbucks at 11860 Grand Park Avenue is now open at Pike & Rose. It moved over from its original location at the southeast corner of the property last Friday.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Buffalo Wild Wings cuts back hours in Rockville as MoCo nighttime economy continues to tank

Effective this week, Buffalo Wild Wings at 33-C Maryland Avenue will close an hour earlier each night, except for Sunday nights, which will remain the same. Monday through Thursday, the popular chicken wing restaurant will close at 12:00 AM instead of 1:00 AM. And on Friday and Saturday nights, BWW will now close at 1:00 AM, instead of 2:00 AM as before.
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Montgomery County's nightlife business continues to tank following the disastrous "nighttime economy initiative" by County Council President Hans Riemer. The Nighttime Economy Task Force debacle led to the closure of 15 nightspots in downtown Bethesda alone, and cutbacks in late-night hours similar to what we are witnessing with Buffalo Wild Wings here. Instead of ending the County's archaic government liquor monopoly that is killing restaurants and bars, Riemer led the Council move to strengthen the monopoly. The same monopoly keeps residents from being able to buy beer and wine at grocery, drug and convenience stores countywide.

There simply aren't enough people out late at night anymore to sustain businesses during those hours. Rockville and downtown Silver Spring have fared slightly better than Bethesda, but we can see things are still moving in the wrong direction countywide.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Veterinary Holistic Care coming to Rockville

Veterinary Holistic Care, a veterinary practice that has operated in Bethesda since 1995, is moving to Rockville. Their existing office is located on a site now planned to be redeveloped into a six-story apartment building by ZOM Living, at 4820 Moorland Lane.

The new home of VHC will be at 4 West Middle Lane, in the Courthouse Center shopping center. In this larger facility, VHC plans to add an underwater pet treadmill, a full surgery suite, and full pet grooming services. No official moving date has been announced as of press time.