Friday, August 30, 2019

Kneipp closes at Montgomery Mall, EJJI Ramen reopens

Kneipp, a German retailer of natural, vegan bath and body products, has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The shop was the latest victim of the moribund Montgomery County economy, which has suffered a net loss of over 2100 retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association. Kneipp's storefront is now blacked out, but inside it has been cleared out.

Another closure at the mall earlier this week was temporary. EJJI Ramen was closed at the beginning of the week. But the company, which has another location in Baltimore, says they had to close due to a mechanical problem. EJJI Ramen is now open again in the Dining Terrace.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Chase Bank coming to Rockville?

Chase Bank is aggressively expanding across the country, having already opened two branches in downtown Bethesda alone, with a third Bethesda location in the works. But they don't yet have a Rockville branch. Now I'm hearing they will open a future branch at Pike & Rose, on a pad site along Prose Street.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Rockville Mayor & Council TV debate schedule set

Before Rockville residents vote by mail on who will become the next Mayor and Council, three live, televised candidate forums will be held. The public can attend in person, or watch live on Channel 11 or on a livestream on the City website. They will also later be uploaded to YouTube.

Here is the debate schedule, with more community and organization-hosted non-televised debates likely to be added in the coming weeks:

  • 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive. Presented by the League of Women Voters.
  • 1-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Thomas Farm Community Center, 700 Fallsgrove Drive. Presented by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce.
  • 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center, 12920 Twinbrook Parkway. Presented by Twinbrook Village in association withTwinbrook Community Association

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Escher apartments under new management in Rockville

The Escher apartments have been open for fourteen months at 1900 Chapman Avenue in Rockville. Owner Compatriot Capital has just announced the building is now under new management. Village Green, a property management firm based in Detroit, will now be in charge. The company has been around since 1919, which is pretty impressive.

"By partnering with Village Green, we know we're getting a team with a proven track record for delivering the personal touches and prioritizing the needs of residents that will enhance their living experience beyond the walls of their apartment," Compatriot President Mark Van Kirk this morning. "With more than 100 years of experience creating homes and over 50 years in apartment management, we're thrilled to leverage that expertise to provide Escher residents with a truly meaningful living experience and sense of community," Village Green CEO Diane Batayeh added.

The management of the property changed hands August 1, according to Village Green.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Partial power outage last night at Rockville Town Square

Power appeared to be out to several businesses on the west side of Gibbs Street early last night at Rockville Town Square. The businesses impacted were those between SunTrust Bank and Five Guys.

Five Guys Rockville Town Square closes for renovations

You'll have to head north or south on Rockville Pike to satisfy your appetite for Five Guys in the coming days. Their Rockville Town Square location has temporarily closed for renovations. It will reopen September 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM.

Friday, August 23, 2019

MOD Pizza Rockville opening date set

Last week, I showed you a preview of the interior of MOD Pizza at the Montrose Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike. Now they have announced their opening date - next Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM. The first 50 people through the doors when they open will get free pizza.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

White Flint Mall site reclaimed by nature (Photos)

The former site of White Flint Mall on Rockville Pike has been reclaimed by nature. Several years have passed since the mall was demolished, and now it is an overgrown field guarded by hyperaggressive security. Perhaps they fear a giant rabbit may jump the fence and munch on the vegetation. The heady greed that led the owners to pull the plug on a fully-leased mall, with crowded parking lots and popular restaurants, has dissipated. Replacing it is stagnation and malaise. And lots of weeds.
An area touted as Montgomery County's answer to Tysons fell victim to MoCo's moribund economy, corrupt and incompetent County Council, and hostile business climate. Tysons is booming, while White Flint Mall's former site is only blooming with weeds and brush. Developers and investors have fled, abandoning or downsizing their plans. Only Federal Realty moved forward with a fully-realized development, leading their CEO, Don Wood, to criticize County officials for not delivering on their end of the bargain in White Flint.
The Montgomery County Council hasn't taken a single action to address our economic development crisis since taking office last December, as MoCo stagnates with the lowest-ranked economy in the region by every relevant measure. No major corporation has moved its headquarters to Montgomery County in over twenty years. County taxes are at an all-time high, but tax revenue is declining, as the ultra-rich flee to lower-tax jurisdictions in the region.

Yet our elected officials have decided to simply put a piece of carpet tape over the "Check Engine" light screaming at them from the civic dashboard. It's intriguing that Lerner is compelled to provide entertainment for the public on a future development site they own in bustling Tysons, but here the Council allows them to leave us an overgrown field. That says a lot about the difference between the two jurisdictions, and the competency of their respective leadership.

This stretch of Rockville Pike looks
exactly the same as it did over nine years
ago, when the White Flint sector plan passed

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Silver Diner Rio review - Gaithersburg (Video+Photos)

Rockville Town Center just got even tougher free-parking-competition in Gaithersburg. The newest Silver Diner opens for dinner hours this week at Rio Lakefront, beginning tonight. Located in the old Cafe Deluxe space, but completely remodeled with new lakefront boardwalk patio seating, the restaurant will officially open on Monday, August 26, 2019 for breakfast, lunch and dinner service.

Rockville has its own Silver Diner with free parking just south of the city limits, of course. But Rio has pumped itself up further this summer, with a new boardwalk, concert stage, luxurious AMC cineplex with bar and restaurant-quality kitchen, Yard House and Dave & Buster's. With free parking, and now its own Silver Diner with waterside outdoor seating, the Gaithersburg development is now an even more dangerous competitor in the battle for local dollars.
I was able to test out the new menu at a soft opening night.  While the menu is not a book like The Cheesecake Factory, Silver Diner has the same ability to please a family or group of very diverse tastes. They also have even more options than the Cheesecake Factory for those on special diets. Whether someone wants a trendy, internationally-inspired dish, or old favorites like meatloaf, crab cakes or burgers, it's almost certain each diner will find something of interest,
For my dinner, I ordered Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup (a cup; bowl size is also available), the Chicken Tender Platter with crispy fries and coleslaw, and a seasonal dessert special, the Churro Doughnut Sundae, topped with Breyers vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, and drizzled with Nutella and raspberry sauce.
Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup
Watch my review of the new Silver Diner at Rio in Gaithersburg right now on the Robert Dyer Channel on YouTube, or at the bottom of this page.
Chicken Tender Platter

The platter includes organic, antibiotic-and-hormone-free
chicken tenders, honey mustard sauce, crispy fries,
and coleslaw for $13.99

Churro Doughnut Sundae

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Edmonston Drive bridge rehabilitation project completed in Rockville

The rehabilitation of the John C. Brown Memorial Bridge on Edmonston Drive in Rockville is now complete. New support pillars, new bridge fencing, a new road surface, and a new plaque honoring Brown are among the upgrades to this heavily-traveled bridge over the CSX and WMATA tracks. Brown was the first Marylander killed during the Korean War.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Monday, August 19, 2019

Bangkok Garden sign installed in Rockville

The sign is up at Bangkok Garden's new restaurant at Wintergreen Plaza at 891-D Rockville Pike. It looks like the construction on the interior is pretty close to finished, as well. This will be their second venture in Montgomery County; the original Bangkok Garden is in downtown Bethesda.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Impossible Whopper review (Photos)

The Impossible Whopper at Burger King is the first nationwide release of a plant-based burger at a quick-service chain with locations in every region of the country, and has generated tremendous interest from beef and non-meat eaters alike. It is flame-grilled on the same equipment as the beef burgers at Burger King, as noted on the chain's website. The Impossible Whopper is not necessarily more healthy than the all-beef Original Whopper, and with the Whopper being my favorite burger, I certainly approached the sandwich with high expectations - and a high price, more than a beef Whopper at over $7.00 here in Montgomery County.
 Out of the wrapper, the overall sandwich looks like a Whopper at first glance - it has all the same toppings, and comes without cheese unless requested for an extra fee like the Original Whopper. The toppings were colorful, fresh and high-quality as they are on the beef Whopper, as well. It appears the Impossible Whopper patty is the same circumference and width as the classic Whopper.
Once the top bun is removed, however, the illusion falters. The Impossible patty is perfectly circular, and perfectly flat, unlike a hand-formed beef burger's irregular surface and edge. While sporting the identical flame-broiled grill marks as the famous Whopper, the patty does not match the beef Whopper in color - it leans toward brown more than grey. It looks like a mechanically-sliced patty from a machine-formed loaf.
The Impossible Whopper has the flame-grilled aroma of a Whopper, but does not replicate the beef aroma. Biting into the Impossible Whopper, one finds the texture is similar to ground beef in chewiness, but not in overall texture. The patty material is packed differently from a beef patty. There is no juiciness, making it a drier burger than a real beef Whopper.
Flavorwise, the Impossible Whopper has even-stronger flame-grilled taste - it's almost too much, and appears to be perhaps intentionally so to mask the lack of real beef flavor. A beef Whopper has a more balanced beef-smoke ratio, and tastes like a burger you made on a backyard grill. The Impossible Whopper tastes as if additional smoke flavor has been added beyond what the flame-broiling process alone bestows.

My final verdict? The Impossible Whopper seems to have overwhelmed hipsters in the mainstream press. The Washington Post declared it indistinguishable from a regular beef Whopper. They need to get out more often. I know the Whopper, I love the Whopper, and I would not be fooled in the least in a blind taste test that I was eating a beef Whopper with the Impossible Whopper. Perhaps you could fool the average person that they were eating a cafeteria hamburger, but that's as far as you could dupe most people - on a good day.

The Impossible Whopper is an event. You really should try one yourself. It may be a luxury item compared to what it forced on the American people down the road. And if you either simply want a non-meat alternative on the menu, or you love the Whopper but for whatever reason are no longer able to eat beef, this could be a great choice for you.

But if you're an extreme Whopper fan like me, you'll likely find it fails to recreate the magic of Burger King's signature burger. I'd recommend running out now and getting a fresh, juicy Original all-beef Whopper, which I rate six out of five stars (not a misprint). As far as the Impossible Whopper, I will give it a "good" three stars out of five - it delivers the alternative some diners very much want, but can't fool true Whopper fans enough to earn five stars.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fuddrucker's Rockville closing

Fuddrucker's is closing at 1592-A Rockville Pike. An auction of the restaurant's contents has been scheduled for September 17, 2019. The restaurant is on the future site of B.F. Saul's Twinbrook Corner development.

MOD Pizza Rockville opening soon (Photos)

There are a few more boxes and pallets to unpack at MOD Pizza at the Montrose Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike, and the pizzeria should be ready to open. All decor, furniture, and light fixtures are in place. The patio out front is also set up.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Signage installed at Fallsgrove Jersey Mike's in Rockville

The signs are up at Jersey Mike's Subs at the Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville. Work continues inside, but you can see that the flooring is now in place, as well as some of the counters. This will be the popular sub sandwich chain's second Rockville location, with the other being at Wintergreen Plaza on Rockville Pike.