Monday, September 24, 2018

Mellow Mushroom closes at Rockville Town Square

Mellow Mushroom has closed permanently at Rockville Town Square. The closure is a high-profile one, in a central on-the-square location, at a development that continues to struggle with tenant turnover. Mellow Mushroom's owner, Danny Trahan, has openly spoken in the past about the high costs of operating a restaurant in Rockville and Montgomery County. "Did I make a mistake in coming to Montgomery County?" he asked last year. "I feel like I did."

Several forces may have contributed to the demise of Mellow Mushroom. The owner was outspoken in his criticism of landlord Federal Realty and the City of Rockville regarding the parking policies at Rockville Town Square. Trahan estimated that the parking fees cost Town Square tenants $5 million in sales annually. Patrons must buy something to receive validation to avoid paying for parking. About 20% are unaware of the validation option, and pay the fees even if they did buy something at a Town Square business, Federal Realty reported at a Mayor and Council worksession on Town Center parking issues.

Many casual visitors who aren't sure they will spend money have been going where parking is free - Rio/Washingtonian Center, Downtown Crown and Pike & Rose (2 hours free at the latter). Property owners in the Town Center area have said they cannot afford to cover the cost of free parking under the restraints of the existing financial arrangements they have with lenders.

Trahan and other business owners have also complained that the limited hours of the Rockville Memorial Library across the square draw less foot traffic than a popular restaurant or retailer would. Montgomery County has slammed restaurant owners repeatedly this decade, starting with a massive hike in the Energy Tax in 2010. The County Council followed up with a historic property tax increase in 2016 that exceeded the charter limit, and a $15 minimum wage hike. "That's a lot of extra Slurpees to sell," one business owner said at a Council hearing on the wage increase.

The City's ban on outdoor smoking at the Town Square was the last straw for Trahan. "Are you trying to slow-poison business?" he asked the Mayor and Council incredulously at a 2017 worksession.


18 comments:

  1. Looks like Dyer is downplaying criticism of his sponsor, Federal Realty.

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    1. 8:45: You apparently didn't even read the article before trolling. Super low-energy, just like your boss.

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  2. Their food and service was wildly inconsistent and the owner was not a nice person. But the mix of shops at Rockville Town Square is not as good as Pike & Rose and the parking validation is a pain.

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  3. Like Taylor Gourmet this is a business that fails to see the fault of their own plan of operation. From the start I was not a fan of the place beginning with the nauseating decor, poor service, and mediocre cuisine. I find it hilarious that the finger pointing targets the library as another reason for their demise. WHAT? Total BS. Next!

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  4. Or, you know, the restaurant was entirely mediocre. FRIT absolutely blows when it comes to filling Town Square with quality tenants. It's embarrassing. I'd guess the weird seafood place goes next.

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    1. Not at all a surprise, they just announced that they are closing.

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  5. I wanted to like the place, but as others said, service was poor. Food was usually mediocre to good but quite expensive. Servers were very young and could not answer any basic questions about bar beverages (nor did they bother to ask someone who did).

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  6. Regarding Trahan's complaints about the library and the parking fees, it looks like he made a bad choice in leasing there.

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  7. Rockville Town Square is always full of (upper middle class) people. The problem is the tenant roster. I don't get why P&R gets all these new, top tier tenants when it attracts just a fraction of the foot traffic. I guess Federal Realty's intro rents for P&R are quite low, comparatively.

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  8. The market demographics for P&R are much higher than Rockville city, this the higher-end retail tenant.

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  9. You missed an addtional restaurant closure, this one on the Pike. Mi Rancho is also no longer.

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  10. You really don't have to purchase anything to get the free parking. Just walk into any establishment, get your ticket punched, and voila. Free parking.

    It's simply a pain in the ass to eat or shop there. Having to park downstairs and behind a building is not convenient compared to a parking lot right out front like other places. Plus, it's loud and busy in that central plaza. Not a place I like to go for a relaxing time out. Should have never put in that playground atmosphere. It's a turn off for people not in that demo.

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    1. The concept, the plaza, is no different than P&R or Crown, and with those locations you park behind the retail and not in front. So our point is mute. Same idea in downtown SS as well.

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  11. POOR service = closure; this guy has no clue on how to run a proper restaurant

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  12. Yup. Absolutely horrible service closed this place.

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  13. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: Smoke-free laws do not harm business at restaurants or bars. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0144.pdf

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  14. This owner was completely clueless. Poor product and deplorable service.

    Twice I ordered pizza and waited 45 minutes and upon inquiring why it was taken so long - the answer the pizza came out of the oven but they forgot to give it to me. One on the owners account - he took my order left the store comes back 30 minutes later and doesn’t ask his staff why is this guy still here - he goes about his business without inquiring. When his staff realized the mistake he stayed in the corner with his thumb up his ass instead of apologizing or taking action.

    Never went there again. Good riddance. Karma is a bitch

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