Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fogo de Chão sets opening date at Pike & Rose

Fogo de Chão, the Brazilian churrascaria that has taken over the Nike Factory Store corner spot at Pike & Rose, is about a month away from opening. Construction continues inside ahead of the June 24 grand opening date. Lighting fixtures, seating and even artworks on the walls are already in place throughout the dining room.

This is the fourth Mid-Atlantic location for Fogo de Chão, following openings in Baltimore, D.C. and Montgomery County's arch-rival Fairfax County. Moises Lopes will be Head Gaucho Chef and General Manager of this location, and first learned how to cook meats gaucho style growing up on his family's farm in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

The Pike & Rose Fogo de Chão will seat 300 indoors, with additional seating at the bar and outdoors. Founded in 1979, the chain's signature dining experience centers around the roasting of high-quality cuts of meats over open flame, which are then carved tableside by Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs. With a month to go, they are still hiring staff. Applicants for both the front and back of house can visit, or call 301-841-9200 for more information.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Five Below sets opening date in Rockville

The new Five Below store at the Congressional North shopping center on Rockville Pike will open on June 14, 2019. As you can see, the sign is now in place above the storefront. Here's a sneak peek inside the new store, which sells "cool stuff for $5 or less." Think of it as an upscale dollar store.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Thomasville Furniture space cleared, signage removed at Congressional Plaza

Thomasville Furniture closed earlier this year at Congressional Plaza in Rockville. Their space has now been cleared out, and their signage removed from the building. Thomasville was one more victim of the moribund Montgomery County economy, in a jurisdiction where "Going Out of Business!" signs have become ubiquitous.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Final week for Payless at Montgomery Mall

This is your last chance to pay less at Payless at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The store is in its final week of business, the latest victim of Montgomery County's moribund economy. Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Rockville City Council race begins taking shape; Mullican declares

Twinbrook resident and former Rockville planning commissioner Brigitta Mullican announced her entry into the 2019 Rockville City Council race yesterday. She cites her extensive community service resume among her qualifications, including being a founder and past President and Vice-President of the Rockville Sister City Corporation, VP and secretary of the Twinbrook Citizen's Association, and member of the Richard Montgomery High School PTA and Booster Club.

Mullican is a graduate of Richard Montgomery, and an alumnus of Montgomery College and the University of Maryland, from which she earned a management degree. She says she will use her experience of working with government officials at all levels to "improve Rockville’s working relationship with both the county and state governments."

Among the issues Mullican plans to campaign on are school overcrowding, increasing the number of City Council seats to seven, and traffic congestion. She endorses Gov. Larry Hogan's plan for Express Lanes on I-270 and the Beltway. While she pledges to help small businesses in the city, she has misgivings about the appearance that elected officials are offering "selective bailouts" to some struggling businesses like Dawson's Market, but not to others.
Cynthia Cotte Griffiths
Mullican joins two other candidates who have declared for the Council race. Cynthia Cotte Griffiths is the Richard Montgomery High School's Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) President and editor of the former Rockville Central blog and Facebook page. With an extensive professional background in non-profits, she is currently Executive Director of DC-MD Justice For Our Neighbors in Rockville. Her top issues include transit-oriented development, economic development, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and requiring the Mayor and Council to appoint a new member if a vacancy opens.

Cotte Griffiths has been a commissioner on the City of Rockville Traffic and Transportation Commission since 2015, a past commissioner on the City of Rockville Human Service Advisory Commission from 2008-2014, a member of the 2009 City Boards and Commissions Task Force, a member of the City's Sesquicentennial Committee, and won a Good Neighbor Award from the City in 2006 for volunteer efforts in the community and at Ritchie Park Elementary School.
James J. Hedrick
James J. Hedrick is a member of the board of Rockville Housing Enterprises, and a Rockville resident since 2014. He is currently a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) employee, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Twinbrook Citizens Association. After starting his career at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hedrick worked as a consultant to local governments for several years. His firm advised towns and cities on budget, staffing, services, and strategic planning. He says he hopes to bring this experience to the Council.

Hedrick's top issues include better mobility connections among the different parts of the city, economic development, more diverse representation on boards and commissions, and environmental sustainability.

Expect the field to grow, and if you enter the race, send your press releases throughout the campaign season to Rockville Nights.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

David Blair launches MoCo public policy non-profit

Montgomery County businessman David Blair, who narrowly missed being elected County Executive last year, has returned to the political stage. He has just announced the launch of a non-profit public policy organization, The Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions, of which he will serve as Chair.

Other notable members of CAPS' Advisory Board include Bethesda realtor Jane Fairweather, former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party Terry Lierman, Gov. Larry Hogan administration appointee Rose Li, former associate counsel to President Obama Jason Green and Badlands Playspace CEO Mikel Blair.

Blair says CAPS will fill the information void left by the disappearance of local newspapers by providing accurate information and data about the impact of public policies. It will advocate for new policies and initiatives, and launch private pilot programs. Blair announced the first such pilot today, a Seed Stage Incubator Program in partnership with the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce.

“We have bright students, and brilliant faculty within Maryland’s business schools, and that’s something worth investing in and cultivating,” Blair said. “We’ll provide space for these early-stage businesses, connect students with established business leaders within the community to provide networking and mentorship, and facilitate introductions to angel investors.”

CAPS today also announced its first policy study, which will examine the best practices to recruit and retain teachers of color in Montgomery County Public Schools. The organization's website also hosts a beginner's guide to understanding the Montgomery County budget.

The launch of CAPS indicates Blair intends to remain engaged on County issues, specifically citing economic development, infrastructure and education as primary focuses. With the County economy and budget picture remaining bleak, Blair could be in a strong position to run for executive again in 2022.

Robeks Juice now open in Rockville - Grand Opening celebration May 18

Robeks Juice has opened at 1403 Research Boulevard, in the Research Row shopping center in Rockville. So if you've been looking forward to the opening, stop by today.

But they are also hosting an official Grand Opening celebration at the store this Saturday, May 18, 2019, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Attendees will enjoy free Classic Smoothies, free snack samples, face painting, and a balloon artist, in an event for the whole family.

In addition to the free samples, during the Grand Opening, there will be a Buy-One-Get-One-Free offer on smoothies and juices. Acai bowls will be 50%-off. And you will save 20%-off of your entire purchase.

Eion Callwood was a loyal Robeks customer. Now he is the logical man to bring Robeks back to Rockville at Research Row. “I share Robeks’ mission of providing our community with a flavorful and healthy option,” Callwood said.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rockville Farmers Market returns Saturday, May 18

The chill in the air makes it somewhat hard to believe, but summer is around the corner. Another sign of that is the return of the Rockville Farmers Market this Saturday, May 18, 2019. Hours will be 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturdays this year at the market, which will run through November 23.

New vendors at the market this year will offer fresh cheeses, mushrooms from the Eastern Shore,  and beeswax candles. The market is located in the Jury Parking Lot at East Jefferson Street (Route 28) and Monroe Street.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bambu Cafe sign installed in Rockville

The lit sign has been installed above the storefront of Bambu Cafe at 12242 Rockville Pike. It is already lighting up, even though the cafe has not opened yet. Note the name change from the original Bambu Che branding. Bambu Cafe is in the Towne Plaza shopping center.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Katsu Go holding soft opening in Rockville

Katsu Go, located at 12238 Rockville Pike, will officially open on June 1, 2019. But if you can't wait for that, try stopping by now, when they will be holding soft opening hours until 7:00 PM most days. Katsu means "cutlet" in Japanese. Katsu Go's menu is focused on Japanese curry dishes to start. The owner plans to add a Japanese grocery section and bar to the restaurant in the future.

Friendship BBQ, Taro Cents Family, Kyoto Matcha & Gyuzo coming to Rockville Town Square

Update 11:43 AM: Two of the restaurant names have been corrected, based on a source familiar with the new businesses.

Federal Realty has added four new dining tenants to their struggling Rockville Town Square development. One of the larger vacancies created by the departure of Mellow Mushroom has resulted in the division of that space into smaller units.

Filling the new spaces in the former Mellow Mushroom space will be Gyuzo, a Japanese Wagyu beef barbecue restaurant; tea shop Kyoto Matcha, and a Taiwanese dessert shop called Taro Cents Family.

But wait, there's more...barbecue. Friendship BBQ will open on Maryland Avenue in the space next to Color Me Mine. Federal Realty is probably smart to again focus on the Asian market with these new signings. Rockville is now solidly in the top two Asian dining destinations in the D.C. region.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rockville construction update: Phase II of Rockville Town Center (Photos)

Groundbreaking for the new Duball, LLC development atop land that formerly housed the last half of Rockville Town Center's largest parking lot took place April 29. You can see the tent that was used for the ceremony in many of the photos here. The 400-unit apartment building will have 150 units set aside as affordable housing for seniors. Delivery of the 18-story tower is expected in 2021. Duball was also the developer of the Cambria Suites hotel and Upton apartments across the street.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Playa Bowls to open at Cabin John Shopping Center

Playa Bowls, a Jersey Shore-based acai bowl chain, will open its first Montgomery County location at 7733 Tuckerman Lane in the Cabin John Shopping Center. The 535 SF space was formerly home to Robeks Juice. The company's only existing Maryland location is in College Park.

Use of all-plant-based cutlery, bowls, lids and straws is part of Playa Bowls' green branding. Superfoods used in their bowls include acai, pitaya, chia seeds, coconut, kale and bananas.

Photo courtesy Playa Bowls

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Signage installed at Fogo de Chão in Rockville

The signs are up at the future Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse at Pike & Rose. Work continues on the interior of the space at 11600 Old Georgetown Road, which was previously the Nike Factory Store and City Sports.
While the churrascaria fad hit the District and other major cities a number of years back, Fogo de Chão's arrival here caps off Pike & Rose's status as having arguably the best set of dining options at a single development in the county. Del Frisco's Grille, City Perch, Kusshi, Owen's Ordinary, Nada, JINYA Ramen Bar, Baked Bear, Summer House, Stella Barra, and a future Asian dining hall are just some of the top-rated options on-site.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

AutoZone opens on Rockville Pike

AutoZone has opened its first Rockville store at 824 Rockville Pike. This is good news for automobile owners, and a sharp blow to the Montgomery County political cartel which banned Walmart from opening any more stores in MoCo. Two planned Walmarts on Rockville Pike and in Aspen Hill were deep-sixed by the County Council earlier this decade, forcing their constituents to continue overpaying for groceries.

Unlike the County Council's successful efforts to keep grocery prices high and moving higher (Walmart customers save an average of over $12 per week on groceries compared to customers of Giant, Safeway, etc.), the arrival of AutoZone will push a downward force on auto accessory prices in the city.  Not everyone is making six-figure, taxpayer-funded salaries like our elected officials, who shop at Whole Foods and hipster upscale markets.

Monday, May 6, 2019

MoCo Planning Board to discuss 6-month pilot allowing ebikes/scooters on trails

The Montgomery County Planning Board will discuss a proposed six-month pilot program that would allow e-bikes and electric scooters to operate on some County trails at their meeting this Thursday, May 9, 2019. Montgomery County is still working out an agreement with four dockless e-bike companies for the pilot. If approved by the board, the pilot could begin as early as this month.

Only bikes powered by rechargeable battery will be allowed on the trails during the pilot. The trails selected are the Matthew Henson Trail (Aspen Hill/Silver Spring), Sligo Creek Trail (only the Montgomery County section), Long Branch Trail, Rock Creek Trail, and the paved sections of the Northwest Branch Trail within Montgomery County. Signs will be posted at the selected trails, and public announcements will be made by County government agencies, at least two weeks prior to the start of the program, County officials say.
Paved surface trails where e-bikes
and e-scooters could be used during
the six-month pilot program
Planning staff says that the trails selected are more often used for longer distance trips through stream valleys. The Parks Department wants to evaluate the results and user feedback before allowing the electric bikes on busier trails like the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. They'll be examining conflicts with other trail users, rules violations, safety, logistics, and personal vs. commercial use.

Gas scooters and electric hoverboards and skateboards will remain illegal on all County trails during the pilot. Bikes cannot have throttle assist mechanisms.

The groundwork for the pilot was laid by a related park directive approved two years ago by the board. Staff are recommending approval of the pilot program.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Loyal Companion pet store opening Saturday in Rockville

Loyal Companion is replacing Bark! at Congressional Plaza in Rockville. The new store will host a grand opening celebration tomorrow, Saturday, May 4, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Sunday, May 5, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Loyal Companion aims to be a one-stop shop for pet owners, offering everything from pet food and toys to grooming and training classes.

Sears sign being removed at closed Montgomery Mall store (Photos)

Sears has been closed for several months at Westfield Montgomery Mall. But workers have now begun removing the iconic sign from the department store's facade.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Smashburger Rockville closed - for good?

Smashburger at 1800-A Rockville Pike has been closed for a number of weeks. But a sign in the window insists the closure is temporary, while giving no rational explanation for the situation.

Everything inside the restaurant is still there, from furniture to still-lit menu boards. There's even a contrary banner declaring the restaurant is open, strangely enough. Given the tight profit margins in the restaurant field - and the high cost of doing business in Montgomery County, it is rare that a restaurant can afford to close for any extended period and make a comeback.

Smashburger had entered the County with high hopes several years ago. But in moribund MoCo, each of their locations has wound up closing over time. Sometimes it seems the only business owners making a profit besides the Council's developer sugar daddies are the folks who print those now-ubiquitous "Going out of business!" signs, which are plastered in windows countywide these days.

More Montgomery County headlines:

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Sprint store closes at Montgomery Mall, more signs of Eyebobs

Another retail closure in
Montgomery County
Not even the traitorous Verizon Guy could save Sprint from the moribund Montgomery County economy. The Sprint store at Westfield Montgomery Mall has permanently closed. Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association.

In other mall news, future tenant Eyebobs has installed some Coming Soon signage at their space. Eyebobs aims to be the Warby Parker of the suburban mall.